Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Big Questions

Steve Blank describes a startup as:
a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model
This is the Big Question of any gathering of geeks in some semblance of a business.  They're assembling a product to see if it'll even work - and it seems like it takes forever to start getting that question answered.  It's vastly important to start getting external answers to that question early.

There's a lot more questions than the Big One.  Some are subsets (Will customers want feature X or Y?), others are external to the specifics of running a business.  We've stumbled onto quite a few questions, some even bigger than Steve's.  Some that have crossed our minds:

Can two guys in a technically-conservative city in a technically-conservative college create a startup, one of the most liberal tech things out there?
Is it even possible for first-timers to learn all the intricate parts of a startup and still succeed at some level?
Will we be able to take on an entrenched bureaucratic system that's resistant to change?

Yikes.  I could spend all day worrying about one facet of one of those questions.  Sometimes I catch myself falling into this trap (what happens if this was all a really stupid idea?)  Downward-spiraling negativity can be deadly to my productivity.  There's a counter to this - reading inspiring books/articles that push me onward to build.

It's also important to acknowledge these questions and try an answer them.  The whole startup process is designed to tackle Steve's question above, but there's other questions, most notably, "where are the facts?"  The key to remember is that there are no facts in the building.  As such, I went to interview two people in key positions in our target market.  I'm glad I did.  Turns out there were fundamental assumptions that we got wrong and it's time for discussion and pivot.

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