“Getting Out of the Building: Customer Development”

How are we interpreting our situations? How are we thinking about where we are going? What do we think about the work we are doing? These are vital questions, but what do they amount to if we do not act on them.

In entrepreneurship, theory becomes a reality when we step out and interact with the world around us. Like a painter capturing the mood of a scene they find evocative, an entrepreneur’s real power comes from going out and engaging with their stakeholders. Their innovation comes from this person-to-person exchange.

As part of the Kauffman Foundation’s Learning Paths resource, anyone can engage with a suite of entrepreneurial knowledge taught by experts. We’d especially like to highlight a piece from their Lean Approach series about customer discovery. As they phrase it, entrepreneurs can have a very innovative idea, but this is only a hypothesis. They have yet to test this until they leave the building. Once they get out and engage with stakeholders, they can begin a more formal testing approach. They gather data (feedback of their idea) and analyze it to find insights into what iterations or pivots they may need to make.

What is crucial here is that this process does not need to use much money. The process will often save the entrepreneur money instead of getting investment and putting a product or service out to market that has not been thoroughly vetted by this more scientific process.

In short, it’s acting on the idea in small, iterative ways that can make the most impactful and, therefore, meaningful endeavor come to life.

Get Out There