More Than a Dream

Many startup founders go into business to “follow a dream.”

That’s fine, and most entrepreneurs start there. But actually growing a business is less a matter of passion+innovation and more a matter of calculated trial-and-error.

The “dream” is important, but it needs to be wide enough to encompass any means of making things happen — even the kind of tedious work many thought they left behind when they set out on their own.

Surveying your target market is one of those tedious things. And it’s tough — the LAST thing many founders want to hear from consumers is what they’re selling isn’t in demand. But it’s better to LEARN the hard way than LOSE the hard way. And it’s rare, in my experience, that an entrepreneur with enough wherewithal to set out on his/her own is 100% off-the-mark when it comes to forecasting consumer demand.

I’ve seen hundreds of consumer surveys come back negative for a startup, but I can’t remember a single one that spelled complete doom for an idea. Most often, bad feedback can be addressed with doable changes to a product or its branding.

Be vigilant about connecting with consumers. Don’t be scared to ask the hard questions.

Your future self will thank you!

A quick update

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been busy. The fall semester is coming to a close and I have two papers due this week and two exams next week.

I’ve also been busy writing for an exciting new startup I mentioned on this blog a while back. It’s no longer in stealth mode, per se, but it’s not quite ready for prime time. I’ll share more news here as it becomes available.

I’m looking forward to the new year. I like new beginnings. I had one last August when my wife and I moved back to Virginia. Things have been exciting since then, but I’ve definitely fallen into a few ruts that keep me from being as productive as I could be. I’m a big fan of new year’s resolutions. I’ll think of one regarding my productivity. I’ve already decided on two others: To work out every weekday morning and to cut out all red meat. I had done both for several months at the beginning of this year, but I let it all fall by the wayside after moving in August. I don’t anticipate any major life changes in 2015, so I’ll have no good excuses if I fall short again.