One of the most common mistakes that plague young entrepreneurs is carelessly solving a ‘problem’ that isn’t worth fixing or doesn’t exist, or providing an unwanted solution for a problem. What about the customer?
Every business needs customers, but many of us spend hundreds if not thousands of hours working on a business without knowing if customers will buy into what we are creating to sell. Do we just think if we build it they will buy? Will it just happen because we want it to?
When asked what has been his biggest mistake as an entrepreneur,Internrocket.com founder and CEO Michael Somers replied, “trying to will things into existence.” Internrocket.com is a dating site for careers, and allows job seekers to apply for and complete short-term internships with companies looking to build relationships with talent. After our interview for Under30CEO, I followed up with Michael about what he meant and if he could share an example.
Our core team started out building a company called One Virtual Business Coach (1VBC). This bordered on the line of what I've heard investors refer to as technology push, instead of market pull. A good friend, Mike DeLazzer (founding team member of Redbox, CEO of Freeze Frame Tennis), has told me and many others several times, "the first thing you need for a startup is a customer." Technology push is forcing it, and market pull you could say would be in the category of allowing it to happen. At the time, Mike and I were talking about the fork in the road my team and I were at. 1VBC seemed to be more of a technology push, while internrocket.com was much more of a market pull. Mike encouraged me to put down 1VBC for now and focus on internrocket.com, which is what we did, and it turned from climbing Mount Everest to sledding down it. Things just fell into place quicker and with more momentum.
There are plenty of technology push success stories, as when it comes to innovation, customers can be nearsighted, but something that doesn’t belong can’t just happen because you want it to. This applies to the day-to-day activities of a business, your New Year’s Resolutions, relationships, and many other aspects of our lives. There is a line where making something happen with hard work, grit, and stubbornness crosses over to oblivious.
Still with me? If you feel I’m just forcing it, comment below.
Stubbornness vs. Oblivious
Stubbornness is an important trait for entrepreneurs. Especially in the early stages of your business, you will have friends and family members telling you not to do it, industry professionals telling you it’s never been done before, and your banker telling you that there’s not enough in your account to make it happen. The problem appears when that stubbornness turns into being oblivious to what your current or future customers actually want and need. Finding the right product/market fit is a delicate process, and you can’t ignore what your customers want and still able to achieve it (at least not without a crazy amount of luck).
Thank you for reading! Stick with me for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll look at how to avoid oblivious. Make sure to post your thoughts below.
Tomorrow’s Post: If You Will It, Will It Become Part 2: How to Avoid Oblivious
Interested in Why I’m Publishing 365 Times in 2015? Read the first post of 2015 here! Want to be a part of the series? Share topic ideas or volunteer for an interview in the comments below.
Michael Luchies is the Founder of TrepRep, Director of Content Programming for Pursuit, Interview Editor for Under30CEO, Entrepreneurship Lecturer at Illinois State University, TEW 2 contributor, and writer of all things entrepreneurship. Connect with Michael on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.