This morning I was having coffee with a first-time founder discussing his new business idea. Like many (first time and experienced) founders, he spent most of the conversation discussing “at scale” issues. These are issues that become hurdles down the line (eg partnerships that drive new customer acquisition, legal issues, pricing), but aren’t nearly as important as talking with customers or (even better) manually running the business as early as possible to figure-out if anyone even wants this product.
The reality is that 99% of startup ideas hit a wall on the way to product-market fit, so spending time as close to customers as possible as quickly as possible while iterating the model is the best formula for increasing your odds of hitting upon something that works.
"Think small and act small and we'll get bigger. Think big and act big and we'll get smaller.” -Herb Kelleher (co-founder/CEO of Southwest Airlines)
The way that I encourage people to fight the urge to think ahead is to constantly think about the one key metric that matters in their business. This can (and should) change over time, but at any one time there is really only one number that matters to your new idea.
The stage of startup doesn't matter. For a brand new idea it could be something like "number of potential customer conversations per week." For a newly launched product it could be something like "daily organic sign-ups outside of the beta group." And for existing products it could be something like "monthly usage cadence of heavy users."
In this podcast, the hosts of my favorite bootstrapping podcast talk through why focusing on one metric at a time is important and how to determine the metric that matters.
Founders with new ideas don’t have many limitations on how they spend their precious time and resources. Thinking in this way can really help ground and focus founders on a day-to-day basis.
If you are particularly interested in product, here are all my blog posts tagged "product." Enjoy!
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 4:57 of this podcast.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Mike Taber (@SingleFounder)
Rob Walling (@robwalling)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.