Get 10 Unaffiliated Customers as Quickly as Possible

Yesterday an entrepreneur emailed me saying he’d like to talk after he gets his app built and has 10 customers. Naturally, I like this as my personal focus is on helping entrepreneurs scale from 50 customers to 500 customers, and not going from 0 to 10. Going from 0 to 10 is so industry and market specific, that I can’t add much value. Going from 50 to 500 involves building a repeatable customers acquisition machine, scaling the organization, and a number of other aspects that are more process and team oriented.

Only, in the entrepreneur’s email, he said he needed eight months to build the product and get the first 10 unaffiliated customers. Eight months is too long to wait to know if an idea is good or not, so it’s critical to get customers as quickly as possible. Here are a few thoughts on getting 10 unaffiliated customers after running a customer discovery process and building a simple product:

  • Users are oxygen for a product otherwise the human tendency is to enhance a product in a vacuum, and build functionality that isn’t highest priority
  • Unaffiliated customers are ones that don’t come from friends, family, or colleagues (friendly customers are fine, but focus on unaffiliated customers until there’s a critical mass of impartial customers)
  • Unaffiliated customers provide more direct feedback, aren’t worried about hurting the entrepreneur’s feelings, and will be more demanding (it’s key that money changes hands and that they aren’t a free user)
  • Implement a marketing process like Traction to systematically find 10 unaffiliated customers (e.g. use cold calling, pay per clicks ads, social media, etc to get 10 customers in the door)
  • Listen to the customer requests while maintaining an opinionated vision for the future

One of the most common entrepreneur mistakes is taking too much time to prove they are on the wrong path. Of course, it’d be great if every new product idea was successful, but most of the time they aren’t. By getting to “no go” as soon as possible, it provides more time to pivot/iterate and try the next direction. Grinding it out is hard, but critical to achieve entrepreneurial success.

What else? What are some more thoughts on getting 10 unaffiliated customers as quickly as possible?

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