The Chicken or The Egg: Startup Style
The chicken or the egg causality dilemma is commonly stated as “which came first: the chicken or the egg?”. The dilemma stems from the observation that all chickens hatch from eggs and all chicken eggs are laid by chickens. On your entrepreneurial journey, you may ask yourself a similar question: what do I do first – find a problem worth solving or find a customer worth serving.
You can answer by first asking yourself these questions: If startups don’t know who their customers (i.e., their market) are, how can they determine their needs? And if they don’t know their needs, how can they determine what products to sell them? So based on these questions, founders are best to startup with customer segments that they are: passionate about, have insight into and most importantly have extensive access to. Investing the time to identify and understand their target market drives financial success for startups.
Now many startup founders get the order of finding a problem and finding their customers mixed up. They start by coming up with what they think is a great startup idea, then they go looking for customers. That’s backwards. By following that path, founders often end up spending a lot of time and resources building a solution only to find out that early adopters won’t pay for it, or worse yet that their initial idea wasn’t as good as they thought.
Not only that, but founders who start with a product idea, before a customer segment, run the risk of becoming emotionally attached to it. This can prevent them from observing the world as it really is. In other words, they are less likely to listen to bad news or customer feedback about their idea and therefore they are reluctant to pivot.
On the other hand, if you start without an idea, come in as a blank slate, you are actually in a very powerful position because you are ready to listen to all the information being given to you. The Lean Startup method is about working with customers to mitigate risk of failure.
If startups don’t know who their customers (i.e., their market) are, how can they determine their needs? And if they don’t know their needs, how can they determine what products to sell them?
You can learn more about this issue in Phase 2, Step 7 of the 100 Steps 2 Startup™.