Today I was talking to an entrepreneur that’s working on a physical product that solves a specific issue within a traditional industry. After describing the idea, he started asking questions about patents, low-cost manufacturing options, and state-related tax laws. Naturally, I asked the logical next question: how many paying customers do you have? Answer: 0. How many customers do you have lined up that will pay as soon as the product is ready? Answer: 0.
Without people interested in buying, most entrepreneurial efforts result in premature optimization. Here are a few reasons why:
- Product/market fit and entrepreneurial instincts differ, so listen to the market and act accordingly
- Messaging, positioning, value propositions, etc. all become much stronger with customer feedback
- Optimizing is a neverending thing, so get in the habit of selling before optimizing
- Nothing happens until something is sold
Don’t let entrepreneurs start optimizing their business without first getting potential customers engaged. Too much time is wasted on premature optimization.
What else? What are some other thoughts on sales as a prerequisite before optimizing the business?