Fall in Love with the Market, Not the Idea

Last week I had the opportunity to share my startup story with a group of executives in town. During the Q&A portion at the end, one of the guests asked for entrepreneurial advice regarding idea selection knowing that pivoting is common. My recommendation: fall in love with the market, not the idea.

Think of a market as a big mountain with hints of gold flakes in the surrounding streams. Now, using those context clues, the goal is to mine it and find the best vein of gold. At first, you search for any vein of gold, talking to potential customers, listening to their stories, seeking insights. Then, you pick an idea and start digging. Sometimes it’s easier than expected and you find a vein of gold quickly. Often, that first, second, or third spot you dig in doesn’t work out. More context clues emerge with each attempt. You hear something from a local, you notice a new clue each shovel of dirt. Ideally with enough time, effort, and ingenuity, an incredible vein of gold is found, tapped, and harvested thereby building the foundation for a large business.

Too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their idea. They believe it’s going to work exactly as imagined then build a product without continuous input from prospects. Rarely does the field of dreams approach work, and many failed startup post mortem cite this lesson learned. The key: embrace the market, go as deep as possible, and iterate to find the best ideas. Think (Read more...)