I’ve been doing a little bit of reading, and opted for a quick weekend in LA to give myself a crash course in the Lean Startup method. Why? I wanted to develop some of my own abilities and instincts to move faster to a product/market fit. In my review of the last 3 years starting an open source DB company, I realized I was WILDLY under informed on what customers really wanted, needed. I am determined that, whatever I do next, I will spend MUCH more time working on customer development and product market fit than feature and solution development. The Lean Startup Method allows you work through, in a rough and tumble way, to QUICKLY disqualify your current business model/solution as viable.
That’s a pretty stock answer/elevator pitch for the Lean Startup method. What in the world does it have to do with my showers?
There are these people; inventors, entrepreneurs, creative types that get ideas ALL the time. They get an idea, they think about it’s place in the world. They think how’d they build this product. They think about what it would look like. How awesome it would be, etc. Many, myself included, typically see problems/solutions all the time. At the moment, I have no fewer than 15 ideas for new business that vary from Food Preparation, to Easy Re-ording of Groceries, to population/search analytics, to improving pace of play on golf courses, utility trading, etc.
These ideas percolate; I think about them in the shower. I think about them in the car. They pick at me; I think about how great they could be. I figure out a piece of the puzzle, put that into a mental cabinet and then go about my day. Days later, it pops back into my head, and I start working on another aspect of the idea. I call this my own Entrepreneurial Porn. It’s fluffy, stimulating but is a lazy time consuming alternative to actually building a business. I only stop thinking about an idea after a year or so has passed since I thought about it, or I find some critical problem with the SOLUTION that means it won’t work. This comes after a significant amount of mental power/effort is expended.
Here’s the real curse: I invent new ideas (into the queue) faster than they head out (solution won’t work). I turn over and spend many of my waking hours (probably sleeping ones too) thinking about, and creatively looking upon ideas that will go nowhere. Emotionally I feel like I’ve wasted this time and feel guilty about it, and it increases frustration internally knowing I’m not building a great business because I’m spending too much time on Entrepreneurial porn.
My hope now is that Lean Startup Method will provide me the ability to banish these ideas from my shower time, driving time, and other moments that I could be thinking about viable businesses, my loved ones and be a more present during the day. I now have the ability to spend a few hours (or day or two) to figure out why the idea won’t work; then I don’t have to spend the thoughtless and wasted hours of time mulling over the solution.
Point in case on the curse; while I write this blog from 38,000 ft I just got a new idea inspired by observing a woman using her Windows Tablet. One more idea to try and exorcise! Entrepreneurial Devils be Damned!