Your Baby is Ugly.

What was that?

It’s often hard for entrepreneurs to hear that their solution is flawed or missing the mark. But the 1st iteration of any solution rarely survives entry to market and first exposure to customers without getting some bumps and bruises. It can be hard to accept that the fruits of your labor aren’t as perfect as you think they are.

We call this, finding out your baby is ugly.

But, I worked so hard!

Of course you did. You and your team worked late nights, feel really passionate about what you are doing, and have so many cool things included in your product. Everyone should ooh and ah over it.

But hard work doesn’t guarantee success. You have to work smarter. As Eric Ries says, building something on time and budget has no meaning if no one wants it. That’s hard to disagree with.

Avoiding ugly-baby syndrome.

The key to avoiding ugly-baby syndrome is focusing first on getting feedback from customers and being open to what they say. Specifically:

  1. Learning from customers. Before you build anything, talk to at least 100 customers to better understand the problem/need they have. Lean Customer Development is a great book on this, full of actionable advice.
  2. Not taking negative feedback personally. Your mission is not to prove that you are right, but to figure out where you are wrong. The more often you ask for advice the easier it gets to hear that junior may need some work.
  3. Clearly articulating the problem/need. Clearly articulating the problem you are solving is difficult. All startups should have a written problem statement that clearly identifies the root cause of the problem/need. A good template to use is something like this… I believe [type of people] experience [type of problem] when doing [type of task] because of [limit or constraint/root cause].
  4. Testing the market. Make a list of assumptions that you are making and create test to test them. Test your message with smoke screens, landing pages, and minimal viable products.

Getting help.

The Happy Valley LaunchBox offers a special program designed to help you avoid ugly-baby syndrome – the Idea TestLab.

The Idea TestLab is a 4-week program designed to help early stage entrepreneurs figure out, as quickly as possible, the problem/need that their customer has and whether their need is big enough to spend money on a solution. It’s a great first step in de-risking your business and setting yourself up for success.

The next program will take place in the spring of 2018. Applications are open now until January 31st.

If you’d like to learn more about our program, our free co-working space, or our free legal and business services, come visit us at the LaunchBox.

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