Fall in Love with the Market, Not the Idea

Last week I had the opportunity to share my startup story with a group of executives in town. During the Q&A portion at the end, one of the guests asked for entrepreneurial advice regarding idea selection knowing that pivoting is common. My recommendation: fall in love with the market, not the idea.

Think of a market as a big mountain with hints of gold flakes in the surrounding streams. Now, using those context clues, the goal is to mine it and find the best vein of gold. At first, you search for any vein of gold, talking to potential customers, listening to their stories, seeking insights. Then, you pick an idea and start digging. Sometimes it’s easier than expected and you find a vein of gold quickly. Often, that first, second, or third spot you dig in doesn’t work out. More context clues emerge with each attempt. You hear something from a local, you notice a new clue each shovel of dirt. Ideally with enough time, effort, and ingenuity, an incredible vein of gold is found, tapped, and harvested thereby building the foundation for a large business.

Too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their idea. They believe it’s going to work exactly as imagined then build a product without continuous input from prospects. Rarely does the field of dreams approach work, and many failed startup post mortem cite this lesson learned. The key: embrace the market, go as deep as possible, and iterate to find the best ideas. Think markets, not ideas.

The next time an entrepreneur excitedly shares their idea, ask questions about the market, and encourage them to doggedly pursue customer feedback, while being open to better, adjacent ideas during the process. Pursue great markets and find the best ideas within them.

One thought on “Fall in Love with the Market, Not the Idea

  1. Loved it.
    This is what I love in your post
    When entrepreneurs share their ideas, it’s important to ask about the market and the potential for growth. This will help you to better understand what the idea could be used for and what features could be added to it. Encouraging entrepreneurs to pursue customer feedback and to iterate is critical in helping them to find the best ideas.
    Ely Shemer

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