Know Your Tribe: Your Best Competitive Advantage
So now that hopefully you have an idea of which business ideas you might want to pursue and try and validate, now we need to move into that step of getting the best competitive advantage that I think you can really have in business. And we're gonna get to that in a moment. So the goal of our research should always be that we wanna understand the customers better than they understand themselves because like I said, people are not good at telling you what they need. So we have to do research to figure out those problems and identify that for them. People are really great at telling you symptoms. But we need to be, like, ER doctors and figure out what is the underlying problem that is going on because maybe it is very far away from the symptom that they're telling us about. So the best competitive advantage that I think any entrepreneur can have, I don't think it's money, I don't think it's your connections to people who own this company and that company. It's not any of that. To me, the ...
best competitive advantage that you can really have is to know your user, know your customer, know your people better than they know themselves. It's the most important rule of all for me. And whenever I am working with any of my clients, we start every engagement with a kickoff meeting where one of the slides always goes to the idea of you are not the user or the customer. And I would say this is true 99% of the time. So a while ago, this entrepreneur came to me and he had an idea for this product that related to kind of like a connected device, meaning a wearable that also was connected to the cloud and was transmitting information. So a connected device that was for infants. So this thing you would put on your baby to make sure, I don't know what, they're breathing or are they moving, something about that, when parents, I presume, are kind of freaking out in those early stages, maybe if it's their first kid or something, so. He said, I have this idea for this connected product. And I said, okay, well, what type of research did you do? And he said, well, we haven't done any research yet, but I just know. And I said, oh well, like, have you done anything like this with your kids or anything? He said, oh, I don't have kids, I just know this is gonna be awesome. And I thought it was just such a great example of someone who was treating themselves like the user. But to think that you are gonna create this product with no research for children and you don't have children. I mean, maybe you have a great imagination, but I think it's hard to create something successful if you're just trying to go on your own assumptions. So I always say, you're not the user 99% of the time. Now, back to my running example. Like I told you, I'm a runner. And even if I had an idea for a running product, I would also know I need to do research because I am not the normal user. If you are the creator of the thing, you're not the normal user 'cause you're too close to it. You're thinking about all the details. If I have an idea, if it's an app, like, I'm thinking through, well, how much will that feature cost me and how long will it take and things like that. And I'm not vetting it enough against, well, what does the user person need. So you should probably take out a Post-It note or something and write this down and put it on your laptop, on your office or something because you're not the user. And I think it seems so simple, but it's so easy to forget about this. So I always encourage everyone to do this and like I said, I start every engagement with a new client with this as one of my slides. Because you might be a user of it, I might use my own running app, but I'm not normal. I am too close to it. I'm probably emotionally connected to it. I have a lot of skin the game. Hopefully, I have not taken money out of my 401K, but some people would. So you are just too close to it. So the magic happens, though, when you do the research and when you can really understand your people because when you can do that research, take your assumptions out of it or validate your assumptions then you can really create something that you know people actually want and not something that you hope they need, which I think, in entrepreneurship, there's a lot of hope that happens. We hope that people are going to pay us for this. We hope that someone is going to come to our website. We just operate on all this hope. And I think it's great to be hopeful, it's a great quality. It's a lot better than being a negative person. But if you wanna create a business, you have to go beyond hope and operate through facts, which is why we need to do the research. So you create something they want, not something that you're crossing your fingers, like, I hope people buy this thing, whatever it is. And just like that travel woman in the beginning who made the box to organize stuff, she hoped everyone would use that thing and she's still hoping. She's trying to get feedback from other entrepreneurs. Like, how can I change this, how can I change my marketing? I have these boxes, like, I need to sell them. So we want to eliminate this reliance on hope and focus more on creating something people need or create something we know they want, not something we hope they need.