My opinion doesn’t matter
I met with a founder this week for coffee to learn more about her business. She did a good job pitching the problem she wants to solve and her approach to solving it. And then she asked, “So what do you think?”
This is a common question with a lot of new founders. They attend pitch events, mentor networking events, and ask for coffee meetings with folks they think might be able to help them. They ask for feedback and advice pretty widely within the startup community.
I certainly did this when I was building my startup. I was so hungry to learn, to be successful, to figure out the right path forward. I was humble and willing to listen to everyone.
My opinion doesn’t matter.
And it doesn’t. Not because I don’t have an opinion. And not because there isn’t advice I could offer her to help guide her path.
But because the only opinions she should be listening to are her potential customers. And actually, not even just people in her customer segment, but the actual people who are empowered to write a check and are seeking a solution to the problem she’s working on.
Every other opinion she gets about what she’s building is just noise. It feels good and encouraging, but it’s distracting and potentially dangerous.
Those of us who aren’t her potential customers don’t have a stake in seeing the solution solve a pain point for us. We can’t differentiate between a killer feature and something that could be built later (or never).
As a founder, your job is to learn from customers. Work side by side with them to deeply understand their pain points (not just the ones you observe or believe they have) and co-create a solution with them. Everything else is just noise.
Each day, I publish an idea I'm working on, highlights from a founder coaching session, or other tidbits from my work with founders, investors, corporate partners, and accelerators. Check out the Hustle+Fire blog for more.