I received a lot of notes about the Hard as Hell post on Monday. It seems I struck a chord with CEOs. I thought a follow-up post on how I “lean in” would be helpful.
What specific tasks can you do during the day when you feel beat up? Where can you get energy? For me, it comes from two places: 1) talking to prospects and customers and 2) working heads down on the product itself.
Talking to Customers. There is nothing more energizing than selling to someone who sees value in what you need. Having good question after good question that pulls you through a demo of your product is awesome. When you start to feel like you’re slowing down, go find some customers to spend time with. Ask them how they’re using your product. Or if they aren’t, just ask them how they do their jobs. Ask them what tools they are using. Consider it a challenge to get as much information from your target customer as possible. Information feeds ideas, feeds product.
Designing / Tinkering / Playing with Product. For tech entrepreneurs and non-tech entrepreneurs, thinking about what value you deliver to the customer should be a great way to keep your head in the game. Even though you can’t expect to “build it and they will come,” the inverse could also be true: “if it sucks, there’s no point in trying.” For me, this isn’t as much expanding design and ideas on what our startup can do, rather it’s imagining new use cases, new ways to describe it, new examples and user stories.
It’s important to keep moving when building a company. Just be sure you are moving on the right things. Don’t let yourself fall back into low-impact activities.
Trust that any time you are spending with customers and in/on your product is high-impact, high-value time spent.