Validate value delivery before growth.

Hi there -

Here is this week’s “1 principle, 2 strategies, and 3 actionable tactics” for running lean…

1 Universal Principle

“Validate value delivery before growth.”
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In last week’s newsletter, I outlined why you should start with the Founder Ring which addressed “Why You (for this idea)?”

Today, we’ll tackle the second ring to close in your journey to product/market fit which addresses: “Why should anyone care (for this idea)?”

2 Underlying Strategies at Play

I. Demonstrate value before growth.

The goal of a startup is to demonstrate a repeatable and scalable business model before running out of resources. But you shouldn’t take on repeatability and scalability at the same time.

First, focus on demonstrating repeatable value delivery. Then, tackle growth.

II. Value delivery is synonymous with solving a customer problem.

When you first get hit by an idea, the solution is what you most clearly see and what you tend to spend most of your energy towards. But most products fail — not because of a failure to build out a solution, but because of a failure to solve a “big enough” customer problem.

All your initial energy should be channeled toward finding evidence of a monetizable problem, not towards acquiring more resources to build out your solution.

Problems, not solutions, create space for innovation.

3 Actionable Tactics

I. Customer/Problem Fit

Start by recognizing that your true job is to create a customer (not your solution). Customers are results or outcome-driven.

Look for a job they are trying to get done (jobs-to-be-done) and study how they are getting it done (existing alternatives).

If the job is adequately getting done, that’s bad news for you because it’s hard to displace an existing solution with a similar-sounding value proposition. If on the other hand, you find the job isn’t getting done “well enough”, that’s great news for you. The obstacles or problems getting in the way of the customer achieving their desired outcome are where you’ll find space for innovation.

The best (and fastest) way of doing this is with carefully unscripted customer interviews. If you'd like to get better at this, check out the Customer Forces Copilot.

You achieve Customer/Problem Fit when you’ve identified a pocket of people (customer segment) who struggle with a big enough problem worth solving.

II. Problem/Solution Fit

Every problem can be solved in multiple ways. Instead of implementing just one way and hoping it works, test possible solutions using a proxy for a solution — a demo.

Customers don’t buy working solutions but demos — or a promise of something better. This isn’t just limited to small-ticket B2C products but is also true for big-ticket B2B products.

Start by trying to sell your demo. If you can’t sell the demo, why build it? Fix your demo first.

You achieve Problem/Solution Fit when you demonstrate sufficient demand for your product. You go from hoping people will buy it to knowing they will.

III. Solution/Customer Fit

Post-launch, too many founders prematurely focus on achieving product/market fit, but a product is like a moving river. It’s easy to drown in a sea of non-actionable data, user feedback, strategies, and tactics.

Instead of trying to boil the ocean, it’s far more effective to focus on demonstrating value delivery with a smaller number of customers. Think stage-based rollout.

You achieve Solution/Customer Fit when you can demonstrate a small-scale version of a working business model.

That's all for today. See you next week.







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