Entrepreneurs get existential too…
It’s time to learn out loud again so I’ll kick off with napkin-to-prototype steps for anyone looking to build before getting a little existential on you.
- Step one: identify a problem you feel close to and figure out who feels this “pain” the most (tip: name and describe these personas).
- Step two: do your research and get on calls to validate it’s a big problem they actively try to solve (tip: read ‘MOM test’ to ask good questions). For aspirational markets like mental health or climate change, untangle the nature of their non-consumption.
- Step three: synthesize notes to develop your hypothesis of where there is opportunity (tip: don’t fall into trap of creating a differentiated value prop too quickly, focus on deepening understanding of the problem and ideas will crystallize in parallel).
- Step four: write down everything that has to be true for your idea to be successful, then rank them based on how concerned you are to know what to test first.
- Step five: find fast ways to get the evidence you’re looking for. Don’t let confirmation bias work against you! Actively listen and observe themes, don’t overreact to just one person’s opinion or behavior, and carve out time to process all you’ve learned.
Spoiler: these steps are in no way perfectly sequential and one should be talking to users throughout. As the saying goes: All models are wrong, some are helpful.
However, there is one step missing. Let’s call it “Step zero: Clarify your why.” Hear me out. Purpose is powerful. When something REALLY matters to us, we will do whatever it takes. I have seen first-hand how the more extreme the environment, the greater benefit clarity of one’s purpose holds. In spirit of moving quickly, I breezed through step zero and entertained a few business ideas that would have compromised the “why” that led me to quitting my job in the first place. By pausing to ask myself the question “who do I actually want to serve?”, the dust settled for me and I knew what problem to go after.
PS: If any of you are impact-driven and juggling with life’s big questions, whether as a student looking for thoughtful career advice or peer that would appreciate an empathetic but strategic soundboard, reach out on LinkedIn and we’ll hop on a call. No strings attached, I just want to help.