Even my mother didn’t understand why I started this company, it was my second one. I had this wild idea to start a media company with outdoor advertising. Instead of doing my homework, I immediately bought the license and started. The part my mother did not understand that the advertising would be on garbage bins in the middle of shopping streets. I had no marketing background and didn’t even test if it was really working. I was simply an enthusiast and believed all the arguments that the owner of the license had.
I immediately started to work with an outdoor furniture design company and we created a full line from garbage bins to banks etc. The material, a composite with marble or granite dust from Italy looked really like marble or granite. Then started a whole team with sales and getting contracts with municipalities to have the places ensured and the emptying and cleaning of the garbage bins. We had some successes but it was a nightmare. Got a first investor (actually crooks as I learned the hard way) and ended up giving it all up. The reason: zero validation, zero testing, zero background check on the investor. We did have Mac Donalds as a customer at one point.
It is only when I discovered Lean Startup through Startup Weekend as a mentor and facilitator more than 10 years ago that I started to see the methodologies and especially discovered Steve Blank. Although today I am not a big fan of Lean Startup, I more prefer Design Thinking, the Business Model Canvas is a great tool for early-stage teams. I wished more just did what I always recommend at the beginning of the workshops for early-stage teams or Now Sprint Accelerator. Go to www.SteveBlank.com and read all the free info that is available. You will be surprised how much you can use from it.
His very famous quote is: Leave the Buiding, meaning validate through your target audience, from partners to potential customers. Today we see a lot of lookalikes of Steve, Eric Ries, and Alex Osterwalder, just making it more complicated and putting their name under it as the next guru. Cheap tricks. Even after 10 years, I didn’t see any well-validated Business Model Canvas, and that seems so easy with these 9 fields.
Make your homework, read and search, there is a lot available. I only later understood why some of my ventures succeeded and some failed (especially in the beginning). Those who succeeded were researched and based on actual customer needs. Women are better than men by the way. They are more inclined to prepare better and listen to good advice. Most men are like me at the start of my entrepreneurial adventure, naif and in love with a world, we create in our head, far from reality.
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