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El blog de Mikel Niño
Industria 4.0, Big Data Analytics, emprendimiento digital y nuevos modelos de negocio

So... should I do what my customers say or not? Be clear about your focus!

The predominant methodologies regarding startup building (customer development, lean startup) focus on contrast with customers, following a process of interacting with our customer segments so that we can better understand the problem surrounding them, instead of focusing on "selling" our preconceived idea for the solution we want to build. However, I've often heard comments questioning whether to do whatever our customers ask us to do, thus orientating our business towards whichever direction our customers point at. My view is that the answer is neither 'yes' nor 'no', and that we should look for a well-planned balance between the environment where we can/want to move around and the customers' problems we can solve in such an environment.

This has a lot to do with a crucial concept related to entrepreneurship in general, which is the FOCUS. The focus is determined by the pre-established area around which I want to explore my entrepreneurship project, and which is defined by a combination of abilities, motivations, competitiveness, type of customers I want to deal with, expected return... factors that contribute to delimit the zone where my project's success chances are maximum. From that point on, I will have a territory to explore via customer development / lean startup, but being constantly aware of whether I am getting dangerously close to the limits, or even getting "out of my focus' bounds".

I've seen this effect in different situations and environments. As an example, when training Computer Science students in entrepreneurship methodologies, I've often developed some preliminary custdev interviews with representatives from organizations willing to cooperate with real projects for students to explore. Sometimes during those interviews we identify real problems that are somehow "IT-solvable" and that could be candidates for those projects, but many of them must be discarded, not because not being legit problems that might be solved with an IT solution, but because the "focus" determined for those projects and the abilities that we want student to develop demand a different kind of projects where success chances (regarding the project and, in this case, the learning process) and future return are maximized.

As we mentioned before, the balance between knowing your customers' real problems and the pre-planned framework where you can/want to explore them will allow you to increase your entrepreneurship project's success chances. So, before starting any process of "getting out of the building", be clear about your focus!

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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