When I began my first startup, I spent a month building out the software, focusing exclusively on building a top notch product. As I came close to finishing, I anticipated thousands of users signing up and beginning to use it right away.
I was wrong.
Always Be Talking
My launch came, and I was featured on a few sites. I got fifty users, but zero people stayed around to actually use the software. Because I didn’t build a relationship with my potential customers before launching, I began scrambling to find people.
Later I realized I got the cart before the horse.
Building the audience is just as big of a problem as building the software. Building an audience takes just as much time and intelligence as building software.
Build an Audience First, Keep Building It
The agile approach to building software can also be applied to building an audience. Simply begin writing, sharing what works for your company, before your product is built. Genuinely help people with all your resources.
Begin thinking in terms of cycles. Your business improves in increments: code, reach, and customer satisfaction.
You know things are improving by measuring them.
Be Everywhere From the Beginning
Working with your head in the technology is no way to begin a business.
You must be actively pursuing potential clients, building relationships with partners, talking with your customers. There is a business cycle, and it starts immediately.
By talking with your customers while the product is being built, you know exactly what needs to be built and what doesn’t. With my current startup I’ve already taken checks from clients, and haven’t had to bootstrap a cent out of pocket.
The promotional cycle doesn’t end when your product launches, just as it doesn’t begin when your product launches.
Measure Everything, Keep What Works
Measure everything, find what’s working, and keep building from there. Remember the 80/20 rule. You will get the majority of your results from a few ideas, usually ones that seemed unimportant at first.
Apply the scientific method to every aspect of your business. You can only improve what you measure, so measure everything. I have it on good word that Facebook indeed keeps everything, including a count of how many times you look at each individual profile.
This is the level of detail necessary to know what’s working.