Imagine you're preparing for a dinner party.
You spend hours going through cookbooks and magazines, finding unique dishes to prepare.
You meticulously write out the list of ingredients, and then spend a full day driving around town. You go to farmers markets, delis, and specialty shops purchasing everything you need.
The following day, you wake up early and start cooking. You cut, chop, dice, simmer, fry, mix, knead, and bake. A delicious aroma begins to circulate throughout your home.
When the food is nearly ready, you begin work on the dining room. You lay a beautiful cloth on the table, and place hand-crafted centrepieces on top. Taking out your best dinnerware, you adjust each plate, napkin and piece of silverware.
Everything is ready. Everything is perfect.
You pour each place setting a glass of wine, sit down, and wait.
But nobody comes.
You were so absorbed in creating the dinner party that you forgot the most important ingredient: guests!
A lot of people build products the same way: they're "head down", and so focused on building their thing that they haven't considered who they're building it for.
And just like the cook who forgets to invite guests for his dinner party, when these products get launched, there's no one there waiting to buy.
Even worse: a lot of these startup teams waste valuable resources building features that no-one wants. (This is like cooking roast beef for a vegan)
Start by choosing a group you can help. Next, research their needs. Once you understand their pain, provide help in small ways (like blog posts and answering questions on forums). And all along, build your mailing list.
Using this approach, you'll eventually find a big "hair on fire" type of problem that you can solve. You'll have the knowledge you need to build something people want. And, you'll have a list of people you can launch to when your product is ready.
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