I bet many times when the subject of conversation turns to the admiration of entrepreneurial success, you probably heard the phrase – “She is successful because she knows what she is doing”, or “He has reached this level of achievement because he really knows his stuff”. What a true and simple statement. But, is it, really? It hinges around knowledge, of which the opportunity and channels available to acquire it have never been more plentiful. Why is it then, that entrepreneurial success does not accrue quickly to everybody that tries, given the truth and simplicity of the statement? Knowing your stuff, knowing what you are doing, is attained by searching deep for the truth. The truth, in the case of entrepreneurship endeavors, refers to the factual truths embedded in your market, molded by the myriad of interactive collisions of the players over time, subject to the dizzying cacophony of such things as behaviors, expectations, fears, biases and tolerances ingrained in the different personalities of all the actors in that market. Attaining deep insight on it is not a simple thing. Attributing success to your “knowing your stuff” or “really knowing what you are doing” is the simple statement, that I would classify as true in general terms – and that people use in general conversation. Having reached the point of harboring deep truth about your market, again, is complex. It is like suddenly discovering patterns in a distorted radio signal from deep space. It is like discovering the recurring melody in the chirping sounds of birds, or in the noises waves make as they hit the shore.

You achieve this deep market knowledge by rigorously researching and probing with what we’ve come to know as interviewing for customer insight, or engaging in customer conversations. Steve Blank coined it as a term – “Customer Discovery”. There is a right and many wrong ways to do this. You must be non-leading, you have to learn how to talk to humans. You must not fall in love with your idea. You must truthfully be unbiased and open minded.  You must let go of all the expectations that can cloud your knowledge with subjectivity. This is something, we argue, that you can learn how to do. Those who pursue this truth-seeking mechanism, are bound to be successful. Those who don’t, are not likely, although they may get lucky. If you want to bank on reason, pursue the learning of this skill. The lean launchpad method that we teach, to help you in your quest to find the truth about your market, relies, and in many ways hinges, on your ability to master this skill. A good place to start is with by reading “Talking to Humans”, by Giff Constable, with a foreword by Steve Blank.

Our View from the Top – August 14, 2018