Following the Startup Lessons Learned conference, I had the Founder/CEO of a startup tell me that she finally ran the Survey.io customer development survey. She was thrilled to discover that more than 40% of her users considered her product to be a “must have.” She had avoided running the survey earlier for fear of a disappointing number. But now that she has run it, she can confidently start planning the steps needed to scale her business (see Startup Pyramid post).
Her fear is common among many startup founders. We have so much invested in the vision (especially emotionally), that we dread an inconvenient truth standing in the way of our dream.
The fear reminds me of one of my personal life missions. Over the last five years I’ve strongly encouraged my friends to get physical exams – especially entrepreneurs consumed by their startups. I know how hard it is to make time. At perhaps the most intense period of scaling LogMeIn I was putting off a routine physical exam. I felt healthy, so why worry? But I gave up half of a day anyway and finally got a complete checkup. It turned out that I had the very early stages of bladder cancer. A simple procedure removed the cancer and I haven’t had any signs since. But if I had waited just a few more months, my doctor explained that the prognosis would have been a lot scarier. If you haven’t had a physical exam recently, please make the time. It could save your life.
And on a much lighter note, if you haven’t run the customer development survey on Survey.io, just do it (it’s free). If too few people consider your product a “must have”, you’ll want to pivot/course correct as early as possible.