I’ve decided that I’m going to randomly write whatever comes into my head today. I’ve been thinking of how I should go about improving my writing skills, and I think I have found one method of doing so. I’m going to read blog posts by influential tech startup people, and see how they organize each of their posts. I’m thinking that most bloggers have a similar writing structure in which they tell you the topic or problem that they’ll be talking about, and then they have a few paragraphs backing up their thesis. Finally, they have a conclusion. Within each of the few body paragraphs, maybe they all give real-world examples of each “reason” paragraph. I’ve seen many blog posts that use this strategy. I think it may be to keep the user involved in the post. Many times, I find it difficult to read a post that doesn’t have any clear real-world application. This is why it is important to include real-world situations that relate to their “reason” paragraph. Other times they talk about lessons they’ve learned in a company, or in a specific phase of a company. For example, yesterday I read a post about how the company Slack became one of the fastest growing SaaS products ever. In this post was a problem statement, which basically said, “We know you have a problem growing a company. Let me show you what we did at Slack to solve the growth problem.” It’s obvious that the reader came here to learn about growth, and they were interested in knowing the methods that Slack used to achieve massive growth early in the company. The solution paragraphs are all targeted to this central issue many startups have, “What are the techniques I can use to solve the growth problem for my company?” In the body paragraphs, or “solution” paragraphs, the author talks about the different methods they used to achieve growth. I’m trying to remember one of the methods, and I recall the first method was to build a group of early customers who were willing to accept a half-assed product in order to have a solution to their problem. This way, Slack was able to receive early feedback for their product, and even perfect their product before even launching to the public! This way, there were some tens of thousands of users and a thousand or so companies who were using the beta platform. That ain’t bad for not even releasing to the public! This made their public launch incredibly successful, as they already had a solid customer base. The next step was to unaware customers into aware customers. This is easier than it sounds. Most people assume that product is the most important thing that drives a business (which this is why most people don’t go into startups). They have this mindset that says, ‘if I build it, they will come.’ This mindset is toxic in a startup because you end up spending too much time on perfecting a product, when you don’t even know who you are actually building it for. Their argument to that would be, “Don’t worry, if we build this correctly then everyone could be a potential customer!” Oh to be young and naive. If your startup thinks that everyone could potentially be a customer, then you’ll come to a sad reality when you build your product and you don’t see customers lining up out the door. I mean, think about it, did you ever think Steve Jobs, when creating the iPhone, ever imagined that his target audience would be everyone in the world? I don’t think so. “Well Ryne, maybe he meant everyone in the United States?” I highly doubt that as well. There are certain customer segments that you must think about when developing a product. Who are you trying to target? What does their demographics look like? Are they college students? Grandparents? Teenage girls? Do they live by a beach? What kind of music do they listen to? Are they rich? Poor? What are their values? All of these questions, and more, must be determined at the same time you’re building your product. Once you find your ideal customer, you’ll figure out that they’ll be the ones giving you the answers to which features you should add. Not the other way around. At the end of the day, you must remember, your customers (just like you’re a customer of other products), are the most picky, blunt, hard-to-please people on the planet. And they don’t even know it. Imagine a cereal you love. For me, it’s Captain Crunch. I love this product because it tastes good. But does it taste good to everyone? Nope. Not even close to everyone. It appeals to a fraction of everyone who eats cereal in the morning. If one out of ten customers who tried Captain Crunch fell in love with it, then the product, Captain Crunch, would be a success. That’s ten percent of all people who’ve ever tried it. Now think of a cereal you hate. I’ll admit, I don’t have a cereal that I absolutely hate, but the one I like the least would probably be raisin bran. I’ve tried it, but it’s not something that I’ll likely try again. The product people who created raisin bran know that not everyone will like their product, so it is unreasonable to think that every person is a potential customer. When it comes to cereal, there are hundreds of different mainstream types. So for a market leader to appear, it only has to secure a small percentage of the total cereal-eating market. You may ask, “How does a product become so successful even when only capturing 10% of the market?” It’s because they understood product/market fit. Their entire development process (as well as the success of their product) depended on the true size of the market. As long as you’re able to accurately estimate the true percentage of the market that you’re able to capture, you can much more easily build a profitable product. In order to accurately predict this market size, however, you must determine the customer demographics that you’ll reach. Let’s take a quick look at raisin bran. Let’s say that the total market size (in terms of people) for cereal consumption is 100 million people. Now let’s say that 75% of people don’t like raisins. You’ve now only have a reachable market of 25 million people. Now let’s again assume that you find out that people from ages 30-40 like your cereal more than people who are outside that range. You’ve just decreased you market size again, and now you’ll only be able to reach 10 million people out of the entire market. That’s not a bad number, but now you must determine how you’re going to reach those 10 million people. That’s for another post. Time’s up for this post! Till next time!