Focus On the Problem

So, you want to start a startup?

You’ve heard the siren’s song.

You’re done with the commute. The meetings. Management.

More importantly, it’s not about what you’re tired of. It’s about who you were meant to be and what you were meant to do.

You can’t help but be creative. You want to build something you own. You want to bet on yourself.

You’re on the right track and Godspeed you. But, before you take the leap, take advantage of your full-time stability to lay the groundwork and do some problem validation before you push all the chips in on an idea that came to you in a flash of brilliance. (I don’t wanna be a wet blanket, but most of those flashes of brilliance are misleading flashes in the pan.)

Instead of growing attached to your solution, fall in love with your customer’s problem.

One of the most common mistakes people make early on is jumping to a solution too quickly and getting attached.

If you’re early, you’ve got the benefit of avoiding that trap by doing as much problem validation as possible, as early as possible.

Arriving at a solution too early is lethal to a startup’s health for these two reasons:

In short, when you own or create something, you think it’s worth more than other people do.

Just imagine all the times you’ve heard someone else pitch their idea with zeal and excitement and you’ve thought, “Hm. Really? I’m their target market and this solution doesn’t excite me in the least.”

Their enthusiasm is fueled by ownership bias.

Or, think about a time you’ve faced the difficult decision of whether to keep pushing or abandon a project that seems to be failing. You haven’t reached your goals yet, but you’ve already sunk in a chunk of time and money! And we’re almost there ... just one more push. That’s the sunk cost dilemma.

Those biases are heavy and they are real and you want to avoid falling victim to them for as long as you can!

This is why you should be doing customer discovery work to start getting familiar with the problem before you race to a solution.

And as you’re researching the problem, be objective about just how painful it is. Remember, you want to spend your time building a painkiller, not a vitamin.

Give those two articles a bit of your time and be as objective with yourself as you can. If you’re starting your journey with a solution in mind before you’ve validated the problem, you might be in for a world of pain that could be avoided.