I don’t know the answer…nobody does.  Only by going through a process of learning and discovery with potential customers, industry experts, suppliers, and partners will you arrive at the right solution.  In battle, this is known as the fog of war.  In business, it’s the fog of startups.  Just as no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy, no business plan ever survives contact with the customer.  The landscapes and minefields – in both – are constantly changing and evolving.

The process of cutting through the fog is called customer development, which helps you approach your market with an open mind.  The key here is to be honest with yourself.  It’s all too easy to tell yourself little white lies that allow you to ignore reality and stay in your comfort zone.  What separates naïve dreamers from great entrepreneurs is an eagerness to grapple with reality and react accordingly.  Of course, you have to start with what you believe to be the best solution, but your vision will undoubtedly change as you move forward—probably drastically.

When you admit that you won’t get it right the first time, you immediately open yourself up to a process of learning and discovery.  You seek input and feedback as you go through the customer development process.  While the feedback won’t always be what you want to hear, it is absolutely essential to finding product-market fit and building a thriving company.

Matt Sand

Author Matt Sand

Passionate about making a difference through innovation and entrepreneurship.

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