The biggest indicator of a startup’s failure isn’t product-market fit. It is a lack of customers. My startup has already pivoted several times in the past year and eventually narrowed the focus to something that works.
How did we realize we were finally onto the right idea? Customers. Big, important customers suddenly began to show interest in what we were offering. We had a lot of interest early on, but very little follow-through beyond the first few conversations.
Listen to your customers. As a startup founder, part of the problem that you are trying to solve must instill some sense of urgency on the customer’s behalf. Why should your customer start using your product right now instead of tomorrow or next year? What value can you offer this very second that a competitor cannot? Demonstrating this in black and white to your customer base will set you up for success.
If a customer cannot immediately determine what you can do for them, they will be unlikely to use your services, or will delay using them long enough to forget about them completely. Without the support of your user base, your startup will likely run into long-term trouble. Every successful startup has been able to quickly solve a clear problem for their customers.
In the event that you cannot incentivize your potential customers to pay for your services today, it’s time to drop your startup idea and find something else that works. There is no shame in starting over. There is only shame in giving up.
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