Early Detection is Key

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.

This entry was posted in Surveying by Sean Ellis. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sean Ellis

CEO of GrowthHackers.com. Previous roles include first marketer at Dropbox, Lookout, Xobni, LogMeIn (IPO), and Uproar (IPO). Also interim marketing exec roles at Eventbrite, Socialcast, and Webs.

8 thoughts on “Early Detection is Key

  1. Just curious, how did a routine physical uncover that you had bladder cancer? How is that even detectable? Or was it through bloodwork?

  2. Hi Paul. They found pretty high levels of blood when they did a urinalysis, which led to further screening (referral to urologist). After ruling everything else out, he eventually he put a camera in the bladder and found it.

  3. Sean – glad to hear that you caught the cancer early. Here’s something I recently found that may be useful to founders: a service called MDVIP (mdvip.com) provides a comprehensive annual executive physical and <24 hour access to a doctor for an annual or quarterly fee.

    My wife and I are having our initial consultation next week – the doctor is the head of medicine at our local hospital, which is quite nice. We are both solo business owners, so any day we lose due to illness is a lost day for the business. If you're starting a business, a service like this is definitely worth a look – your health is way too important to ignore.

  4. Dear Sean,
    i’m really glad to hear you caught this early! My gosh, the little things we all take for granted like our health. Your post is a priceless reminder that we also need to monitoring our own health. Guess i’ll make that annual physical exam appointment soon. Best, ch

  5. Thanks for sharing the resource Josh. And kudos for finding the time for your exam!

  6. Thanks Carmen. Please do – and ask all your startup clients to also. Too easy to ignore health and forget what’s really important.

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