Customer Validation is Essential

Listening to Customers SmallIn speaking to several university classes recently, I have been pleasantly surprised that students really do understand and appreciate the importance of the “lean startup” approach and especially seeking customer validation early in the process. It’s such an obvious principle, yet from time to time I see resistance, which typically seems to fall in two key categories.

FEAR

You mean you want me to actually get out there and talk to customers? Are you crazy? What if they don’t like my product? What is they don’t like ME? Can’t I just email them? Text? What about a survey? I have to actually look them in the face? How horrifying!

My very sensitive response? GET OVER IT!

The other reason I hear from young entrepreneurs is also a type of fear – the fear that, if I share my idea with others, someone will see how amazing it is and steal it. In fact sometimes we are so obsessed with protecting our supposedly valuable intellectual property that we fail to concentrate on the most important aspect of launching a business – customer acquisition.

Taking a lean approach to creating your startup requires that you seek as much input as you can from the customers you expect will eventually pay you for your product or service. And guess what? If you actually listen to their suggestions and make your product or service something people really want and need, then you will have a chance of beating the odds that seem so stacked against the success of new business creation.

Co-creating with customers is a great way to launch your startup.

I also want to share what’s happening with the business accelerator, Starter Studio, that is here in our Orlando office. The fifth group of starters has recently arrived, and I am privileged to mentor two groups in this class. Starter Studio is recording the progress of this class in a series of podcasts, the first of which can be found here. Listen as I and my fellow mentors discuss the process. Enjoy!

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