The following insight came from my podcast interview with Steve Hoffman, where he talked about why it’s important to build an A+ team and some of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make.
Sometimes grinding means that you’re solving the wrong problem, or the pain point isn’t big enough, where you haven’t touched on a nerve. So do we have momentum? When do we know that it’s been long enough, there should be economies here, or we need to pivot?
That is the most challenging question entrepreneurs face. I’ve been in that place because you know that these things are tough to get off the ground. It’s never easy. You hear stories like Airbnb where it took them several years; all the venture capitalists said no, but they stuck with it. And today, they are Airbnb, not some unknown startup that has failed.
First, you have to identify your core customers and go to those customers early and often engage them. If they’re using your product and they’re saying, “Oh, this is kind of nice.”, then you have failed. Because people don’t pay for nice products. They don’t stick with nice products. Nice products don’t matter. For example, you download an app on your phone, and you look at it saying, “Oh, that’s nice.” A week later, you have forgotten about it. A month later, you’ve deleted it. That’s what happens to nice products.
So you can go to your customer and if they don’t say, “I need this. I have to have this today. When can I get it?” Those are your core customers. It doesn’t have to be a lot of them, but they stick with your product and come back and come back. Then you know you have something. If there are enough other customers out there like that, you can put in the hard work, and you can grind to make this product go.
But, if you don’t have any fanatic customers, you have, honestly, no business. Great companies are built by products that exert serve. You don’t create a great company and an explosively growing company unless there’s pent-up demand. And the higher pressure that demand has, the bigger the explosion when you unleash it. The rest is just figuring it out, building the infrastructure, making the sales, marketing, putting all those together. But the hard part for entrepreneurs is discovering demand.
I tell people, you have to be a demand hunter in the beginning. You can build the best product in the world, but if there isn’t that pent-up demand, you have nothing. So it’s not the product; it’s the entrepreneur’s job to find the demand in their pockets. There are many demands out there. There are always new ones forming, like these volcanoes underground, that nobody realizes because markets are shifting. Technology is changing. People have new needs all the time. Trends are changing. So if you haven’t hit that demand and have a product that everybody thinks is nice, but it isn’t taking off, you need to go back out and become a demand hunter again.