How Do I Move From Being Capable to Offering Expert Consulting?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Consulting Business, skmurphy

Offering expert consulting means developing a specialization and focus that enable you to execute with distinction. The phrases “finding the niche for your product” and “product market fit” are essentially equivalent. A key definition of a market is that members reference each other’s buy decisions and therefore building up a set of references lowers your next prospect’s perception of the risks in your product or service (not just will it work or will you do what you say you can do but are you going to offer them significant value.

Kierkegaard: Creativity Must Master Dread of the Unknown

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, skmurphy

Entrepreneurs can be paralyzed by the rich set of possibilities they face. It seems almost paradoxical that when you have one choice you can start immediately, when you have two you can flip a coin, but as possibilities multiply the desire to make the best choice can paralyze you. To fully embrace your creativity you must master your dread of the unknown.

Q: How Do We Get A Business Prospect To Talk To Us?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Acquisition, Lead Generation, skmurphy

Each interaction with a  business prospect or a customer has to promise an exchange of value: their time or money for at least the strong possibility of benefit. Many of the startup fantasy camp customer development training models neglect this and teach beginning entrepreneurs to rely on the kindness of strangers. This may work in certain consumer verticals but it rarely works in B2B markets.

Getting Better at Customer Discovery Conversations

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

Getting better at customer discovery conversations requires preparation, practice, note taking, and follow-up. It can also be tremendously helpful if you can arrange for a partner who can observe, contribute,  take notes, and de-brief with you. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur “trade interviews” with another entrepreneur: agree to help them with one of their interviews if they will help you with one of yours. Here is a recent exchange I had during an office hours edited for clarity.

Am I Making A Fool Of Myself?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, checklist, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

One of the most common questions I hear in conversations with entrepreneurs at a Bootstrapper Breakfasts, in Office Hours calls, or with clients–and not infrequently from myself when comparing notes with peers–is, “Am I making a fool of myself?” Here are some questions you can use to clarify your situation when you are starting to feel like a fool.

Primary Research Tools: Q&A With Jen Berkley Jackson

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, skmurphy

I recently did an in depth interview with Jen Berkley Jackson of The Insight Advantage on primary research tools. Jen works with companies to help them make sure that they understand their customers better than any competitor or potential competitor. Her firm performs primary research for clients, using a variety of tools to gather information from customers, prospective customers, and the general market. Because of her considerable experience with a range of primary research tools I took this as an opportunity to explore the spectrum approaches that are available.

Organizing Your Experiment Log

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

In Chapter 9 of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig goes into an extended explanation of the Scientific Method using the metaphor of motorcycle repair. He stresses the value of an experiment log, explaining how to organize it so that you don’t become lost in exploring for solutions to a problem. I have excerpted it below and intermixed some commentary about applying it to early market exploring and debugging new product introduction problems.

Planning and Reflection

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, Lean Startup

Ash Maurya rebooted his blog as “The Space Between“–experimental format where he is exploring the space between ideas–and has offered a number of short reflective posts. Here are excerpts from three where he explores the value of planning and reflection, and the need to prioritize learning over the illusion of progress.

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