As CEOs and product owners, we are effectively outsourced team members, contract force accelerators. Yet more often than not, we act like clueless employees, sleepwalking through the day, hoping that our actions align with our employer’s goals or, at worst, praying we don’t fuck up enough to be noticed.
Why the hell would you worry about your site’s scalability if you don’t know how to effectively acquire customers? Your site falling over someday MIGHT kill your company (probably not). Never growing past eight customers WILL kill your company. Instead of using your beautiful brain and precious funding to solve theoretical scaling issues, perhaps you should go run some customer acquisition experiments. Build a fucking landing page. Buy some AdWords.
I’m not advising that CEOs of mid to large size companies making millions of dollars a year with hundreds of employees drop everything to sell every new product her company launches. That’s unrealistic and in many cases unreasonable. But, that doesn’t mean new products can be built by committee. While the CEO might not launch every product, every product needs a CEO.
Time for a case study! To follow up on last week’s advice, Sell It Before You Build It, we’re turning to Chris Oltyan, founder and CEO of Rebric. After years of pivoting from building one product to another with no success, recently Chris found a client that needed a problem solved and secured a six-figure commitment — without building anything.
I’d say many people who build products do so in part because they want to AVOID dealing with other people, much less try to sell them anything. But eventually, you’ll have to talk to customers. The question is, do you do it before you build anything and validate they’ll pay for all the work you’re about to do, or do you do it after you’ve spent all your time, money and effort to create something, only to find out no one cares.
Customers aren’t looking for features. They are looking for solutions to a problem, and your entire product or service must solve that core problem. Features can, at best, solve a subsection of a problem, but once you start down the road of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” you’re no longer dealing with the big issue.