Suhail Doshi: Avoid These Seven Temptations as a First Time Founder

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

Suhail Doshi, founder of Mixpanel, shared a candid assessment of mistakes he made in the first 18 months of the six startups he has founded in “The first 18 months of starting a company: it’s life or death.” Here are 7 key pieces of advice that highlight mistakes first founders typically make.

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.

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.

Scaling Up To a High Reliability Organization

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Favorites, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Startups

Randy Cadieux, founder of V-Speed LLC, started to post some interesting articles in the Lean Startup Circle Group on LinkedIn in June of this year, in particular his “Working on the Edge of Failure.” High reliability organizations have a lot to teach startups so I decided to reach out to him to compare notes. This led to some great conversations and a recorded sessions that we have transcribed into this edited transcript–with some hyperlinks added for context.

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.

Your First Dozen Enterprise Customers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, Demos, Lead Generation, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

traction-bookMy interview with Gabriel Weinberg was originally published Sep-8-2010. He was doing research for what became his fantastic book Traction. We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and I can remember he kept returning in different ways to what was needed to close your first dozen enterprise customers.

He recently reorganized his site and made a fresh start on his blog. I have made some small formatting changes and added links to other blog posts I have written since the interview that elaborate on some of the points that I made. This content was originally at http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2010/09/sean-murphy-on-the-first-1-6-enterprise-customers.html

Innovation: the Trick is Managing the Pain

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Any innovation effort is a painful struggle punctuated by false starts and dead ends. Your efforts are met with lack of interest even when a basic invention is working and active resistance when it starts to replace the tried and true. Like any childbirth the trick is managing the pain long enough to deliver.

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: We Already Have a Prototype, Can We Still Do Customer Development?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, Design of Experiments, skmurphy

Product-market fit is not a ratchet: competitive response, new entrants, changes in technology and customer preference require ongoing customer development. You will need to continue to do customer development–and customer discovery for that matter–even after you have a first prototype, an MVP, early customers, and an established niche. Markets and competitors don’t stand still, no product-market fit is permanent.

Q: How Much Attention Should I Pay To Potential Competition?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Q: When I introduce the idea for my business a lot of my friends are quick to ask: “are you sure there is no one else doing this?” In today’s fast and disruptive business world, I think it is very hard to come up with a business idea that is 100% unique, and utilizes a completely new set of technology features. I constantly find myself arguing that it doesn’t matter if someone else also has the same startup or business idea, it’s how you go about executing your business idea that matters.

What are your thoughts on competitors and how put off should I be when I find out another company has a similar product and mission to my startup?

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