You can call me “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy” (though I prefer “Realistic Rick” or “Logical Larry” or “Accurate Alex”), but…
If ~99% of startups will fail, but ~100% of entrepreneurs believe they’ll succeed, then YOUR Assumptions, Beliefs, Confidence about YOUR startup, simply can’t be viewed as objective or valid…
So, the honest/harsh (objective!) reality is that you (and your startup) are NOT A SMART BET (for an investor, or even for yourself to make the All-In / Full-Time leap!) — UNLESS or UNTIL you have AT LEAST one of…
P.S. In case you were wondering, no, I don’t consider “CUSTOMER DISCOVERY” to be a good enough indicator — partly because I think most people kinda suck at it. Spoiler Alert: There’s often a HUGE difference between someone who *SAYS* “I like it!” or “Dude, that’s awesome!” or “Wow! That’s a really cool [startup, app, product, service, whatever] idea” or even “Yeah, I would totally use that!” — and someone who will *ACTUALLY* purchase your product, pay for your service, download/use your app, etc.
THE BAD NEWS:
Unless/Until you have one or more of those OBJECTIVE INDICATORS — then your assumptions, your hypotheses, your confidence, etc. are objectively no better than everyone else’s; so, unfortunately, neither is your likelihood of success. #99percentFAIL #100percentBelieveTheyWillSucceed #BadMath
THE GOOD NEWS:
We’re living in a time when countless entrepreneur-friendly services (like WordPress, Amazon Web Services, Shopify, MailChimp, Google Analytics, Facebook Ad-Targeting, and MANY others) make it EASIER, CHEAPER, and FASTER than ever before to build, launch, and A-B test a Startup MVP (minimally viable product).
So … it is not only possible, but we actually RECOMMEND getting started in a PART-time capacity to build your MVP and test your assumptions. THEN, if/when you’ve achieved one of the aforementioned “OBJECTIVE Indicators”, you will be able to make the “Go All-In?” decision with much more OBJECTIVE information at your disposal (and investors will have a much better way of objectively evaluating you!) in regard to whether or not you have a better than average chance of success!
PART-TIME PURSUIT OF *PROOF!
…*Proof of Concept?
…*Proof of Assumptions?
…*Proof of MVP Viability?
…*Proof of Reliable Objective Indicators — of above-average (~1%) success likelihood
PRIMARY PRINCIPLES & PHILOSOPHIES:
(For “STARTER STARTUPS” and Our “PART-TIME PURSUIT Of PROOF” Programs & Improvement Initiatives)
- Entrepreneurial Self-Awareness
- Complementary Co-Founders
- Objectivity Over Optimism
- Bootstrapped / Self-Funded / Low Overhead
(at least initially, “prior to proof”)
- Risk-Mitigation (not risk glorification & celebration)
- “Ready, Aim, Fire!” vs. “Ready, Fire, Aim”
- Entrepreneurial Employees
- Shared Resources / Economies of Scale
- Blurring the lines between Products, Content, Marketing
- Anticipate Pivots BEFORE you’re forced to
- A-B Testing isn’t just for marketing! A-B Test EVERYTHING — even Potential Pivots (on your core product!)
- Short-Term Goals: PROVE Key Assumptions and/or Achieve RELIABLE OBJECTIVE INDICATORS
- Crawl → then Walk → then Run
- PART-Time Pursuit of Proof (…of Concept, of Assumptions, of MVP Viability, of Reliable Objective Indicators…)
P.S. Quick Note to EXPERIENCED ENTREPRENEURS on “Startup ASSumptions“
If you’ve ever been in the room with founders — particularly first-time founders — when they’ve been discussing the “assumptions” necessary to create their Financial Projections, have you ever observed something like this:
>> Co-Founder A: “Let’s say our sales growth rate will be 10% in Year 1, 20% in Year 2, and 30% in Year 3…”
>> Co-Founder B: “Ok… [*enters numbers in Excel*]… Dude, that‘s not gonna get us anywhere close to the $2.5 Million Valuation we’re looking for.”
>> Co-Founder A: “Shit. Ok, well… what if we double the price of this and this, cut this expense in half, change those two from monthly expenses to annual, and let’s just get rid of these 3 rows entirely — and let’s plug in a sales growth rate of… how about… 50% in Year 1? 100% in Year 2? and 200% in Year 3?”
>> Co-Founder B: “Ok, let’s see… [*enters numbers in Excel*]… BOOM! Awesome! Dude, these numbers look GREAT now!”