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.

When You Are No Longer The Smartest Person In The Room

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, Sales, skmurphy

You may have been the smartest person in the room for a long time, but getting into a room with a customer changes that because a key knowledge domain of interest is the customer’s situation and needs. Here are some suggestions for how to keep learning instead of acting like the smartest person in the room.

Quotes for Entrepreneurs–February 2016

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these quotes for entrepreneurs hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

Leap Year: What Are You Going To Do With The Extra Day?

I signed up for an advance copy of Ash Maury’a Scaling Lean at leanstack.com/scaling-lean-book/ and read it this month.  I think this a significant book for entrepreneurs, especially bootstrappers. I have included three quotes from Ash in this month’s roundup.

Anything You Want By Derek Sivers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Founder Story

Derek Sivers promises that his slim book “Anything You Want” offers 40 lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur that summarizes 10 years of his entrepreneurial experience in a one hour read. It’s a practical book that’s well organized and easy to read. It took me you much longer than an hour to actually absorb the lessons he offers here–I found myself thinking about it for several days after I read it–if only because he offers profound insights not quick tips. But I knew after I read the first chapter where he summarized his key lessons learned it was a book I would be recommending to other entrepreneurs.

Getting More Customers Workshop April 23, 2016

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Lead Generation, skmurphy, Workshop

We are offering our “Getting More Customers” workshop 9:00am-1:30pm on Sat-Apr-23-16. Spend a morning working on your business with a mix of lecture, discussion with peer entrepreneurs, and reflection and writing. You will leave with a plan for getting the phone to ring and your inbox to fill with inquiries.

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.

Customer Development: Scouting A New Market

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

There are no undefended markets. Established markets are characterized by entrenched competitors who have strong brand identify and deep customer relationships. Although Bill Hewlett always strove to “attack the undefended hill,” the reality is that any market worth having is at least lightly defended by the status quo of current alternatives. When scouting a new market you have to determine where you can make a clear contribution that will differentiate your offering from the alternatives currently available–including “doing nothing.”

Recap Customer Development & Pricing For B2B Startups Jan-19-2016

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

I led a very interactive session on customer development and pricing for startups on Jan-19-2016 with the Montreal Lean Startup Circle. I have included the slides and their text but they comprise only about 1/6 of the session, the bulk of which was having different entrepreneurs in the audience present their challenges with customer development and pricing and helping them to walk around the situation.

Rock Paper Scissors

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Technology markets look like a game of rock paper scissors. Startups have to find an effective counter to a competitor’s offering not just a slightly better version. Their pebble cannot beat the incumbent’s rock, they have to use paper (and scissors is a really bad idea). 

Alastair Hood: Lessons Learned Bootstrapping Verdafero

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.Dr. Alastair Hood, PhD, CEO of Verdafero, was our featured attendee at this morning’s Bootstrapper Breakfast® in Palo Alto.

He offered a candid assessment of lessons learned bootstrapping Verdafero since 2009. The Verdafero platform is used by businesses to capture, analyze, visualize their waste, water, and energy utility bills. It allows them to compare locations normalized for temperature and key business transactions (e.g. nightly occupancy for a hotel, pizzas sold for a pizzeria, daily check-ins at a health club, etc..).

Here are my notes for his remarks:

How To Test Your Leap To A Solution

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, checklist, Sales, skmurphy

In your early customer discovery conversations to assess demand for a new offering a wide range of customer needs and symptoms can trigger a leap to a solution, which just happens to be yours. Guard against this by probing to understand the root problem–have at least three questions that allow you to dig out the details–and consider questions that would disqualify your solution.

Quick Links

Bootstrappers Breakfast Link Startup Stages Clients In the News Upcoming Events Office Hours Button Newsletter SignUp