What I've been told about Startups
I’ve been thinking about the advice I’ve been told about how to build a startup. The advice has come from many sources: Paul Graham’s Essays, Startmate’s Student Fellowship, some of my old notes from Bloom Launchpad, and a lot of books.
I find it hard to keep track of all the knowledge, and try to make grok it, so I can internalise it and use it in my day-to-day. And I’ve found that a lot of the advice can sorted into two camps:
- You are usually wrong. You need to align your internal worldview with reality.
- Do it fast.
Your internal worldview is often wrong
The Lean Startup talks about this by validating what assumptions you have. From the Student Fellowship - “you need to talk to your customers from day 1”. From Paul Graham, “Understand your users”.
A lot of the advice can collected under this umbrella. And it makes sense - why would you try to build something for people without understanding what they need?
Customer interviews scared me. The thought that my idea which I had put so much time into perfecting would be simply rejected and thrown aside. Emotionally that made sense. I had attached myself to my idea so much that I had become so detached from what was really needed. But after talking to my first user and really understanding what their problems were, it seemed so silly that I went down that path. Talk to your users and understand what they need.
Startups exist to develop unique products, bring them to market and to solve customers problems. Moving fast is essential to surviving as a startup:
- Moving fast creates more information which helps to align your understanding of users
- Moving fast (when using a new technology) ensures you stay ahead of the competition