The cheshire cat syndrome
Most entrepreneurs and founders love to promote how clever their technology or solution is and how it works and why it’s cool. They haven't always thought too much about know where they are going. But they are invariably excited by the idea of the journey- not the destination.
But 20% of companies do not survive year 1. And the number one reason startups fail is because people do not buy their product. They haven't bought the ticket. They don’t see the value. They don't know the destination. It’s that simple.
The number 2 reason is running out of money, presumably spending all that time and effort trying to sell something no one wants.
So make sure you know that your product will sell. Learn and learn again. Understand the market, even if you think it is new and customers will pay anything for your incredible technology.
If you don’t, you may very well be in the 20% band that disappear.
Knowing that the big players occasionally get it wrong too might not be much comfort and can only reinforces the idea that people will not buy a bad idea or change their buying behaviour unless there is a really good compelling reason. There are hundreds of stories about products that no one wanted to buy.
So how to avoid this?
You can ignore the customer and make what you think is needed.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
No one really knows if Henry Ford actually said these words but they were a reflection of his preference of not involving customers in his product decisions.
Even Steve Jobs was famous for his focus on innovation without necessarily involving the customer
“ It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”