Last year I made the transition between being a writer, freelancer, and then really just in general wanting to make a startup without really knowing what to do (except for an idea and the coding/design mojo). And as all programmers/product people do, I then went on to prototype something (as in wanting to make a big system that works), spend a whole lot of time with it, and only mumble something incoherently when someone asked me, “What is your startup about?”
My answer (mostly): “Well, umm… yeah… it’s about recommendation system for beauty product. Umm, something for beauty enthusiasts…” (by this time I’m all sweated out on my armpits, trying to notice if this other person is interested in my idea or not, or if this person already deemed me as the most stupid person in the whole world because I gave out that idea). I then would still try to go on convincing this other person, sometimes just to be told in the end that I wasn’t assertive enough. Or the idea wasn’t clear enough. Or they are just not interested and think it’s a silly idea (double pain!).
But really, all of those don’t matter when from time to time I get lucky and someone told me, “Oh I love it! I love beauty things. Could you tell me more about it?”
I see their eyes light up, and I know they are genuinely interested in what I do. Genuinely curious and excited to see what I’ve done.
At those moments, I know, this is why I am doing what I do!
But the most important lesson is, I should keep talking about my idea. And whenever you find someone who lights up about your idea, engage them, find out what excites them. It is the beauty of the early startup.
I know by now some of you would nod with me, but then some other would’ve thought something like my old response. “Sure, I’ve heard and read a lot about ask your customers, test your products early, fail, yada, yada. I start later when I have my prototype.”
I know it’s not easy if what you’re asking is your baby. It’s really like asking a stranger if your kids are good looking. You might always think they are the most adorable little beings in the world (and you should!), but this other person might think they are awfully ugly and horrible (please, you know this is possible!).
There are already a lot of tips and blog posts from other experts about this already. But what I found really helpful is this:
- It might be painful to have rejections now, but it will be even more painful to have rejections next year after you poured in the hard work. So do it now.
- It’s actually a very nice feeling (trust me!) when you found your early adopters. This is when you want to spend time with them, find out what they need, what’s their burning problem and whether you can solve it. If you can’t find any early adopters, maybe it’s better to look for another idea (just saying!).
Is it going to get better? Well, the nervousness will go away with practice, but as the stakes get higher too, it might not. Part of being an entrepreneur is that you’d have to also be ready to get constantly pushed out of your comfort zone!