In business, we are not actually the boss… the marketplace is.

I’ve met with hundreds of young entrepreneurs who all thought they had the next “big idea.” After having observed and drawn conclusions on which businesses later proved successful (and those that didn’t), I have devised a methodology to help business leaders best identify a roadmap to success, while also providing some important guard-rails to keep things on track. When meeting with a business owner, the first three questions I ask are:

1. Who’s your audience?

2. What’s your product?

3. How will you monetize your product/service offering?

The answers to those three basic questions will typically help determine the viability of a business’ roadmap. The lack of qualified answers to these questions, however, can help identify why so many young companies go off the rails. In my experience, we as overly confident new business owners tend to believe “false positives” and ignore the related red flags, which tends to lead us down non-productive roads, i.e., lost time and wasted money.

In summary, my Data-Beta-Do principle for start-up businesses is based in the belief that we as business owners aren’t actually the real boss: the market place is. So once a business owner has acquired market Data, it is far wiser to enter into a Beta phase and test their assumptions, than to jump right to DO. As a general rule, this measured approach allows for marketplace based pivots, helping entrepreneurs avoid the costly mistake of creating a product that is in fact chasing an audience. (or maybe “… a solution in search of a problem.”)


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