Last week I had the distinct pleasure to not only attend, but to speak at the 6th Annual Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. To say it was an invigorating experience seems like an understatement. I am still processing through everything and will likely continue to over the coming weeks.
It’s an Emotional Ride
This came up in conversation so many times. The truth is, entrepreneurship is an emotional journey. I could wax on about how intense the ups and downs can feel. How challenging it is to remain resolute when all you feel is despair. Or how isolating it feels to be putting yourself out there constantly and getting very little or no positive reinforcement. But the reality is, you have to experience it to get it. It is like parenting, you will never know the magnitude and breadth of emotions you will experience until you are one. The important thing is to have a support network.
Who will be there for you during the ups and downs?
Data is King
There is a very objective element of Lean Startup, it is the data. I heard a fascinating talk about how a company applied Lean Startup to creative endeavors, specifically writing. Imagine being able to get real time feedback about the resonance of your creative endeavor! The challenge in this day and age is choosing which metrics are worth monitoring. One that I heard over and over again at the conference was around conversion rates.
What data points are you monitoring?
Beware of the Knowing-Doing Gap
I have seen this problem in Northern Colorado and was re-assured when Eric Ries said that it is a persistent challenge in the craft. There is a difference between intellectually understanding Lean Startup and embodying it as a practice. The first step is to acknowledge your own shortcomings.
In what ways is your behavior antithetical to Lean Startup?
Customer Discovery is NOT Sales
Maxwell Murphy from Pip said it best when he told me, ” I think meeting with you was actually the most valuable part of the conference for me. You challenged me on my ‘customer discovery’ technique and told me to put my product away. I had read a lot about Lean Startup, but until you told me to close my laptop and stop showing my product, I didn’t really get it. I didn’t understand the difference between customer discovery and sales.” It is the difference between trying to convince someone that your idea is awesome and seeking to understand their needs.
What are your motives when speaking with potential customers?
Pivots are Scary
On the first night of the conference there were ignite talks. And one of the speakers resonated with me when he said, “pivots are scary.” It is always nice to know that you are not alone. It is hard to change your mind and that is essentially what a pivot is. There’s fear that you are abandoning an idea right before it is about to take off. And concern that you may get lost in shifting your business model away from your original idea.
What scares you about pivoting?
Stop to Enjoy the View
The conference was at Fort Mason which is right on the Bay. Conferences are intense and sometimes overstimulating. It was nice to be able to walk out to the end of the pier, sit in the sun, listen to the water lapping below and look out at the Golden Gate Bridge. For me, stopping to enjoy the view provided the perfect reprieve for rejuvenation so that I did not burnout.
When do you stop going along with the hubbub to “enjoy the view” and rejuvenate yourself?