One of the hardest things about founding a start-up is you don’t know what you don’t know.
You already have a fairly extensive list of things that you know you don’t know. Things you’ll need to research. Things you’ll need to learn.
Things you’ll need to hire outside expertise to help with.
But added to that already big list, is an entire undiscovered void of not-knowingness.
I’ve had a couple of calls recently with prospective clients that have said exactly that ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’.
And do you know what? I’ve always assumed that we do know what we don’t know!
So what can you do?
Ask good questions and plenty of them.
Ask your fellow founders who further on in their journey than you.
Ask them what caught them out, what took them by surprise.
What do they know now that they wish someone had told them at the start?
Many will be happy to share their experience because they remember how much help they needed (and received) when they were starting out.
Ask the experts. If there is something you don’t understand, hire an expert who does.
I read recently ‘If you want to get somewhere fast, find someone who has already done it, been successful and learn from them’. Love that!
This could be someone who is a technical expert, able to help with a particular aspect of the product design for example. Or it could be an expert in supporting start-ups or someone who can look at the overall picture of where your business is right now, where you want it to go, and help you figure out how to get there, and the pitfalls you’ll need to avoid along the way.
And lastly, but probably most importantly, ask your target market. Even if, especially if, you think you are part of your target market.
It’s important that you don’t just create something that appeals to yourself. The research before you launch a new product or service really pays for itself. You actually know that what you’re creating is wanted and needed. It will further fuel your passion for your business and help you make more sales.
If you are in the start-up phase asking your customers will help you get something launched, even if it isn’t perfect. You know people want it – don’t make them wait forever while you source the exact shade of blue, or find the ideal packaging.
And after you’ve launched your less-than-perfect product, keep listening, keep asking your customers what they love about it, and what they’d like to change. They have all the answers you need to make your business a success, you just need to take the time to ask them the questions.
The thing that the most successful founders do all the time is they ask questions. And they learn from experts. Keep learning, keep having fun and keep asking questions.
I’m going to be running a Digital Masterclass in collaboration with The Women’s Chapter – sharing 10 tips to accelerating your digital growth. You can learn from me, have fun with others and ask questions. So if you want to improve your digital come and join us (early bird is just £28 which is a total bargain!)