It amazes me how easily entrepreneurs, business developers, marketers, product leaders, and other creative people will jump into a new business or product opportunity and start building stuff — websites, prototypes, partnership agreements — without knowing what their target customer’s top problems are.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and the possibilities when you’re working with creative people or on a cool idea. We’ve all been there!
Excitement aside, I’d ask them in a New York minute…
WTF as in “Where’s The Funds?!” Even more important than knowing your target customer’s top problems, do you (and your business) have enough runway to get your product to market profitably? In other words, do you have enough time and money to figure out what your customer’s top problems are, design and build a solution that can be marketed and delivered to paying customers, all while paying yourself and operating your business?
It doesn’t do any good to start a new business or product opportunity if you don’t have the means to see it through. Yes, I know you’re talented. Yes, I know the world needs what you’re building. I get it. I’ve been there.
I’ve just seen far too many poor decisions get made and great teams get stopped in their tracks because of the pressures of being out of money personally or in the business. It’s one of the many brutal realities of entrepreneurial ventures. It is not enough to have a great idea, a great market opportunity and a great team. You have to have runway. You have to have 3X the time and 3X the money you think you need to get to market profitability.
You wouldn’t go on a long road trip without getting the car checked out, the tires inflated, the oil changed, and the gas tank filled up. Right?
Why would you do that for a new product or business venture?
It’s a bitch to run out of money. It’s a bitch to break up good teams with good ideas. I’ve been there. Don’t go there. It’s not fun.
If you’re not sure if you have enough runway, ask your significant other. Ask your accountant. Ask 5 people you respect. Get the real scoop and ask yourself again:
Do I have enough runway?
If you don’t, stop! Get a job and proceed directly to customer development and problem interviewing in your spare time. Let me say it another way: don’t lie to yourself.