How to solve difficult tasks

Many of the things we consider to be difficult aren’t. The key to solving them is to break them smaller pieces and then keep working on those tiny pieces. Tiny steps can take you very far. 

Let’s take my case. I would like to write over 100 quality blog posts per year. Seems a lot, but if I break it down it means that I only need to write 2 blog posts per week, for a year. The key is to break the task in bite size pieces and create a steady rhythm.  54 weeks per year X 2 blog posts per week = 108bp/year

Or let’s say you would like to make $1000 per month as passive income. If you break that down, it means you need roughly $250 a week. That means you need to get ~$36 per day. If you create a valuable online product, priced at $17.99 you need only to convince 2 people per day to buy your product. 2ppl X $18 X 30days=$1080

And the great thing is that you can apply this to anything to make it more approachable. Now think about your startup. Big task ahead of you? Maybe you haven’t started yet, because it’s so big… Well, I challenge you.

Define the tasks, the effort and the frequency. Then keep going at it. Keep a steady rhythm and you will be amazed of how tiny steps will take you far.  

Customer Understanding as part of the Problem-Solution Fit

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For this interview, I had the pleasure to talk to Douwe Wester and Edouard Dopper, co-founders at leanup.nl and experts in lean startup methodology, agile methodology, scrum management and innovation models for large companies.

Douwe Wester             Edouard Dopper

I met both Douwe and Edouard a few months ago at an event which they organized together with Rockstart Amsterdam and Adam Berk, on product innovation, problem solving, and the customer development process. I remember I enjoyed their energy so I asked them if they would like to share some of their know -how with the Startup Maze community. To my great pleasure they both agreed, so… I got my recording gear and headed up to Douwe’s apartment, which is an amazing place situated smack bang in the middle of Amsterdam, in a building full of character and with a view to one of the many picturesque canals.

We spent almost an hour and a half talking about customer understanding, customer experience, and startup development strategy. I selected the most interesting parts of our chat and shared them in the podcast below. This week we will explore the first part of the problem-solution fit, the customer understanding In the next episode we will dive into early adopter acquisition. Basically how do you find your first customers.

Douwe and Edouard say that one of the most common mistakes in the startup world is to start with building a product without truly understanding the problem to be solved and the riskiest assumptions that are the foundation of your business model. So what is the a better way? Start with the customer understanding

Customer Understanding

  • Step 1: understand the problem you are trying to solve
  • Step 2: understand who has that problem, define the archetype(s) of the customer
  • Step 3: see if you can find more people that display similar archetype behavior
  • Step 4: do market sizing as a reality check
  • Step 5: create and iterate Influence maps

Your turn. What do you think about this approach? Let me know below.

How do you find users to recruit manually?

How do you find users to recruit manually? If you build something to solve your own problems, then you only have to find your peers, which is usually straightforward. Otherwise you’ll have to make a more deliberate effort to locate the most promising vein of users (see below how). The usual way to do that is to get some initial set of users by doing a comparatively untargeted launch, and then to observe which kind seem most enthusiastic, and seek out more like them. For example, Ben Silbermann noticed that a lot of the earliest Pinterest users were interested in design, so he went to a conference of design bloggers to recruit users, and that worked well.

via Paul Graham

I think that what Paul says makes a lot of sense. When you don’t know who’s your target audience you have to improvise. Forget about all targeting, send it to a big heterogeneous group, and then listen. Well, measure, don’t listen. In addition to what Paul said here is how you can locate the most promising vein of users:

  • Look in Google Analytics and see if you can spot any patterns. Think Geo, language, device type,
  • Look at the reviews. Identify who are the people that give you the 5 stars
  • Send out surveys or for physical products simply go and ask them
  • Use in app/on website notifications to ask them more about them
  • Make it easy for them to contact you. Early adopters have always want to influence the product.

If you need help with that, let me know.

PS: Not having a clear user profile is acceptable only in the prototype phase f your product. You must figure that out ASAP

Photo by michael dornbierer, used under CC