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.

Q: Should I Tap My 401K To Bootstrap?

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

Q: Should I tap my 401K to bootstrap my startup? I had a conversation with the CEO of another firm and he and his partners did this to bootstrap. They started a C corporation and set up a corporate retirement account, the partners then rolled existing retirement accounts into the corporate plan and invested the money in the company’s stock. I did a little research and found these articles:

Good and Bad Reasons to Pivot

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

Much has been written about a startup making a pivot in direction after Eric Ries first coined the term
in a 2009 blog post “Pivot don’t Jump to a New Vision.” The word pivot has attracted almost as much wordplay as the word lean.  What follows is a short list of good and bad reasons to pivot.

Resources for Student Entrepreneur Organizations

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

Andre Nieto Porras: Tree Of IdeasWith the 2016  school year getting ready to start in the next six to eight weeks at most colleges and universities I have had several conversations with student entrepreneur organizations about how I might be able to help them.

I have developed content and given talks and webinars over the last five years that may provide student entrepreneurs help to get oriented to many of the basics of customer development, innovation, and new market exploration. 

Webinar Replay: You Need to Be a Little Crazy

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

This is a webinar replay that was recorded on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 with Massimo Paolini, Miles Kehoe, Dorai Thodla, and Sean Murphy discussing Barry Moltz‘s “You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business.” They share how they personally found the courage to start their businesses and their desire to make “working for yourself” mean not only a better job but building equity.

A Serious Conversation Can Change Your Life

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Books, Customer Development, skmurphy

Theodore Zeldin gave a series of six lectures on conversation that were collected in slim book called “Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives.” I found it offered a number of insights on what is needed for a serious conversation. And since serious conversation is one of the primary tools for early market exploration and customer development; I have curated a list of nine excerpts I think entrepreneurs will find useful.

Nature, Technology and Magic

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, Design of Experiments, skmurphy, Startups

What seems natural, artificial, or supernatural is a function of familiarity. Nature is the background or context for innovation. The challenge is that we live in a world and culture formed by millennia of innovation so that some incredibly advanced technologies seem natural. The difference between technology and magic is not that one works more reliably than the other but that technology is part of the adjacent possible–seemingly impossible but comprehensible. Magic breaks our existing paradigm and is initially incomprehensible. As entrepreneurs we need to present our innovations as technology not magic.

The Next Best Thing But Not Yet

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

It will be twenty plus years before there is a 3D printer in most homes due to limitations of the cost of the machine, material, obtaining software and learning how to use the software. Other fundamentally problem that prevent 3D printers being adapted by the public are to understanding of design, physics, and material science and a change of behavior of making things at home.

Your Startup Never Gets Any Easier

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

When I first went to work for Monolithic Memories my boss, Ivan Pesic, told me, “It will be rough for the next two months and then it will get easier.” He was still telling the team that a year later when someone else offered that advice during a problem solving session and we all broke out laughing because we realized it was never going to get easier. We kept working on harder problems. Ivan went on to found Silvaco and despite a few legal setbacks built a company that has endured more than three decades.

The Uncanny Valley of Email Automation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Consulting Business, Customer Development, Sales, skmurphy

Trust is built over repeated interactions between people. If your business requires long term relationships then you have to make sure that investments in automation are not deployed in a way that undercut your ability to have real conversations. Unfortunately, some uses of email automation tools are pushing sales conversations into the “Uncanny Valley” because they strive to simulate–but miss–a genuine personalized touch.

Q: How Do I Interest People In My Product?

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

Q: We have a product for bloggers but I am having a lot of trouble getting leads. I have met bloggers from popular media companies at events, I have cold called them, e-mailed them, and e-mailed to on-line groups that I am a member of. None of this has worked. How do I interest people in my product?

I have a couple of suggestions:

5 Ways To Start Customer Discovery Interviews

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

Customer discovery interviews are essential to testing key B2B product hypotheses and understanding your target customers’ needs. Broadly there are five ways that you can reach out to potential customers to have a discovery conversation. All of them assume that you have a clear picture of who your target is and a few key questions that they will be willing and able to answer that will indicate they have a problem or need your solution may address.

Few–If Any–Silicon Valley Secrets

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Consulting Business, Customer Development

I signed up for a mailing list a while ago from a reasonably famous entrepreneur and he sent me this mass email in late November promising to share “Silicon Valley Secrets.” I don’t know if it’s because I have worked in Silicon Valley for more than three decades but I found the whole thing kind of sad (of course, he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank).

Crafting a Value Proposition

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Rules of Thumb, Sales

Q: I struggle with the value proposition for our product. Either I am too abstract “we offer a positive return on time invested” or too vague “help increase your ability to manage critical challenges.” Do you have any suggestions for how to frame or formulate a value proposition?

Here a few questions that a value proposition normally addresses

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