Month: September 2013

“What you think is going to happen in the marketplace almost never does.” – Chuck Witkowski

There is only one way to know 100% how the market will react to your product. That is to get in the game and sell something. Market research and customer discovery, at best, can only hedge your bet.

So don’t waste your time and limited cash perfecting your product. Sell your prototype and then react to the feedback.

Save your powder for your pivots.


“An entrepreneur is in the business of making things, not planning to make things. Make a prototype first. ” – Guy Kawasaki

A prototype is simply a representation of how your product will work. It can be functional but only to the point that it conveys the most important capabilities to your customer.

When you have a prototype, you can begin to get real feedback from your your customer. You may even be able to sell the prototype, which is even better.

“What is very dangerous is not to evolve” – Jeff Bezos

Pivoting is another word for “rapid evolution”. You have to be in touch with your market constantly because technology changes. Our culture changes. Public opinion changes. The government changes.

These changes create opportunities for the disrupters.

But it’s also a threat for the startup. The window for your great idea may only stay open for a few months. You need to get there quickly.

Once you get traction, you need to be vigilant for what’s next.

A friend started a great little company based on a BtoB cell phone texting platform. Within 2 years, Smart phones arrived rendering them obsolete overnight.

It can happen in a flash.

“The map has been replaced by the compass” – Seth Godin

Orienteering is a sport where one uses a map and compass to navigate a course in the wilderness. The map provides the big picture but it’s the compass that get’s you there.  Your destination may involve fording a river or getting around a steep cliff.  You may have to climb or descend and the established trail may not take you where you want to go.

For the startup, there is no accelerator program, advanced degree, mentor council or best selling author that can tell you how to be successful.  These things all have their value but all of them are no more than a good map.

Your compass is your business model that is built through the discovery of customer value.  Obstacles may require a pivot but the business model will keep you pointed in the right direction.


“A company fails because it doesn’t sell enough products or services.” – Rob Adams

Entrepreneurs don’t paid to design great products.  They get paid to sell products that solve customer problems.  Great design is part of that effort but only in balance with delivering a minimally viable product initially.

If you get your products in the hands of your customers as soon as possible, they will help you design greatness, and it will come most likely in a simple form.

Rob Adam’s “If You Build It Will They Come?” is a great blue print for understanding customer value.

“What’s next?” – Martin Sheen fromThe West Wing

President Josiah Bartlett was often heard at the end of an episode to ask “What’s next?”  It would follow routine activities as well as the  resolution of a major crisis.

It always stuck with me because it’s all about  not living in the past, no matter how recent.

Nor is it about spending much time analyzing the future because it cannot be known.

As the current moment passes, the only thing that’s important is the next moment.  It’s a statement of action and of getting things done…

…that is, the right things.

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of choice.” – Jim Collins

Jim Collins claims it takes no more time or effort to create a great company than it does a mediocre one.  It’s all a matter of making the right choices early on.  The blue print is in “Good To Great” and it involves simplicity, maniacal focus and discipline, the right people and leadership at the 5th level.

Remember, “good is the enemy of great”.