Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Importance of Week 1

I had a conversation with an entrepreneur on Monday on my way up here to the wilds of northern Pennsylvania (where the air is crisp and the frackin high).

He sounded down. He had quit his corporate consulting gig and wanted to build a startup, but had been through it before several times, never working out.

I asked him how his finances were.

"I live like a church mouse!' he exclaimed. Good. You'll appreciate that later when you've outlasted everyone else.

We both talked about our challenges, and by the end of the talk he sounded better. So I launched into my startup rant.

I want to know what you're going to commit to. What do you need to do today to get to next week?


Get started.

You don't have a spec. Sit down, no computer, just pen and paper, and write the damn spec. Draw it. Make notes on it. I don't care if it looks good, just get it done.

What else?

Write up some scenarios (Steve and Dave are rolling their eyes; I hated this but it works). Who wants your product? Tell me what you imagine. Write it down. Why should they care? What do they get out of it?

Then prove it--call 30 people that meet your target profiles. Or show up at their offices or stores, or front porches or doors. Take notes. Listen. Don't explain what you want to do, explain the problem you're trying to solve and see if they actually have that problem or something similar. Listen.

See how that matches up to your vision and specs. Make adjustments. Decide if it's still worth pursuing.

That's Week 1.

Within a week you'll have a spec, 30 new friends and a sense of purpose and direction. So when we talk next week, that's what I expect to see. If I don't see anything close to that, I start charging and at the higher rate, because you're wasting my time and yours.

Ideas a fun, but business is built on execution.

Then you get to the fun stuff: Week 2. We'll talk about that when we get there.

there's a lot of great customer development insights by Steve Blank you should check out here.

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