To create something special that people actually care about, you have to know what they want. And that means you have to talk to potential customers. Part of you will want to sit in the comfort of your office and create a master plan. “Google has all of the answers,” you might say. You might doubt that spending so much time talking to customers is worth the time and effort. Without a doubt, Google has its place – it can be helpful in gathering market information and industry trends. But nothing will replace a conversation with a prospective customer. You’ll learn more in two minutes watching a prospect play with your prototype then you will in two days of Googling. PayPal started as a way to exchange money via Palm Pilots. It looked like a good idea on paper, but it wasn’t until they asked people to use it that they realized it wasn’t going to work. That realization and change of direction is what created what we now know as PayPal.
More than just customer feedback, most startup tasks require that you get out there and talk to people. And the earlier you are, the more important this interaction. It may not be the most fun thing you do as an entrepreneur, but it’s certainly one of the most important. Don’t sit at home while the world passes you buy – get out there and talk to people.