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I Can't Give a Shit About Your Startup Until You Give a Shit About My Problem

I'm selfish. So are the other people you're trying to convince to become customers of your shiny new startup. Until you show me that you give a shit about solving my problems, I don't give a shit about your startup. Keep that in mind even when you're talking to people who aren't your customers - investors and advisors surely will.

I'm not breaking any new ground here. There's plenty written about focusing on the user, connecting features with benefits, and so on. The fact that over half of the startup entrepreneurs I talk to can't succinctly explain what problem they solve indicates that this advice is worth repeating.

Here's a formula: 

  1. Polish your explanation of what problem you solve until you can get people to instinctively nod their head in understanding.
  2. Express your excitement for solving that problem. I want to see it on your face and hear it in your voice. Get me caught up in your excitement.
  3. Lead with it every time, whether you're describing it to a friend, pitching it to an investor, rallying your troops, recruiting a co-founder, or talking to your customers. Every time.

Note: if you can't manage #1 and #2, it's time to think of a new idea.

Until you master explaining what problem you solve for me, don't bother telling me what you do. I don't give a shit that you're creating a social network for _____, that you offer me badges for _____, that you automagically do _____, or that you track my _____ unless I know what problem is solves for me. For me. For me. For me. It's all about me.

Once you've got my head nodding because you understand a problem I have, you'll have me leaning forward in my chair dying to know how you solve it for me. A customer that's dying to know about your startup is a good thing, agreed?