Some do death by PowerPoint, I do death by coaching.
The startups we work with at Accelerate Cambridge get a minimum of one hour a week of individual intensive coaching sessions as well as mentoring sessions. As a result, with 30 startups under management I get to spend on average 15 hours a week coaching startups. While their products, markets and customers are widely different, they all face similar challenges.
And often I catch myself saying the same thing over and over again. One of the “Judgemental Princess” favourite bits of advice is it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Often the entrepreneurs are reluctant to release their MVP (minimum viable product) because it is missing this feature or that feature. This simply means that it does not do all of the things they want it to do.
This is where the “it doesn’t have to be perfect” mantra comes in, unless you are developing a drug or an innovation that could affect people’s health or safety of course!
You know that the product could do all of the additional features you have planned for it. You know it but your user-to be does not. You believe that this additional feature would be “very cool”, but does the end-user need it? Want it?
By the way, do you have an end-user? Do you have someone who is interested in using your product, let alone buying your product? These are much more important questions to consider at this stage than whether your product can jump through every technological hoop you think it should.
If you were running an established company with a large marketing budget, you would be able to engage into an extensive market research and you would be able to run focus groups.
But you are running a startup and you do not have access to that kind of cash, so your only way to find out whether you have a product that people want is to go out and talk to them. If you want to find out whether they like it you must ask them. To be able to ask them whether they like your product or whether they would like additional features you need to get your product out there first. “It doesn’t have to be perfect”.
As an innovator, as a creator, as an inventor, you want it to be perfect. The only way to make it perfect is by getting it out and receiving feedback from users and improving it and releasing v2, then v3, then v4…
It is one of the hardest changes in the mindset and this is what makes or breaks the entrepreneur.
Not being ready to share or showcase your work because it is missing a few features is only one cause. It is very daunting to have your work out there for people to see, use and criticise.
I have been meaning to write a blog for 2 years, maybe longer. I compose my blogs on my daily commute in the morning and then delete them in the evening on my commute back as I do not deem them suitable to share, not “perfect” enough.
Then Nick Hatter from giftgaming, a young entrepreneur I have been working with since March 2014, published a blog entitled “It doesn’t have to be perfect”. He had had that breakthrough after one of the many coaching sessions he received as part of Accelerate Cambridge. He stormed into my office with the big grin on his face that is his trademark, waving a green kettle at me saying “ It does not have to be perfect – you told me so and I have done it.”
He had released his first version of giftgaming, and, as a result, attracted top talent to work with him, launched a seedrs campaign, attracted offers of partnerships, saw interest from investors, gone to London and pitched uninvited at one of the Techchrunch meetups – receiving a write up by Mike Butcher himself!
So this is reverse mentoring, and this is kudos to a very tenacious young entrepreneur. And, as a result, I have decided to produce my first blog: it does not have to be perfect…