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How To Startup Without Getting Overwhelmed

Original Photo by TheSuburbanJungle
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The web is overflowing with free startup advice. It can be overwhelming for any entrepreneur. Our Unreasonable Mentor and Scribe, Chris Yeh, has some extremely simple yet powerfully effective wisdom for you.


The author of this post, Chris Yeh, has been building internet businesses since 1995 and currently serves as the VP of Marketing for PBworks, as well as a General Partner at Wasabi Ventures.


 
The startup world can be very complicated.  If you sat down and started reading all the startup advice that’s available for free on the web, you’d still be reading at this time next year.  And that’s just my blog posts!
 
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and aren’t sure where to start, I have some simple advice: Always start with a user.
 

Always start with a user

Lost in all the talk of TechCrunch, Angel List, and disruptive innovation is this core truth: Companies generate value by providing a product or service that gets used and improves people’s lives.  You can have all the best investors, press, and PowerPoint decks in the world, and if your product doesn’t ultimately get used and have an impact on the lives of its users, you’re never going to succeed.
 
Too many people start with trends or hot technologies.  Forget it.  You can never surf those trends fast enough.  Instead, find a group of people who have a problem.  Solve that problem for them.  See if they use your product.  Find out if they’ll pay for it.  If not, find out if someone else will pay for it.
 
Being user-oriented is a heuristic that helps you cut through the “fog of war” that surrounds every startup.  Every idea should meet the needs of a specific user that you can name.  Every action you take should move you one step closer to solving that user’s problem.

Companies generate value by providing a product or service that gets used and improves people’s lives.

Chris Yeh

About the author

Chris Yeh has been building Internet businesses since 1995. He is the VP Marketing for PBworks, which provides highly vertical collaboration solutions that help businesses work more efficiently and effectively....

Chris Yeh has written 16 articles for UNREASONABLE.is

  • http://danielepstein.me/ Daniel Epstein

    Amen

  • Chris Yeh

    We often lose site of this fact when we’re busy trying to figure out which space or business model is hot at the moment. Don’t chase trends. Start them.

  • http://danielepstein.me/ Daniel Epstein

    One thought I had on this @chris_yeh:disqus is that focusing on the user is important as a spring board, but what about instead focusing on a problem set worth solving, and then on the needs of the people affected by that problem? I feel like there are far too many user-centric startups building the next app that makes life 10% more convenient or that generates a significant user base that will some day generate ads. I’d love to see more entrepreneurs start companies where there laser focus is on putting a dent on an issue that matters (i.e. BFP’s or Big F**king Problems).

  • Jansscor16

    I like the simplicity of this idea, it’s so easy to get caught up in a trend. I think you were right in that the first thing needed to be done is find a problem. Once a problem is found, run with it!! This will really help me after college. Is there a good way to sift through all the startup advice on the internet?

  • layj

    Yes, I agree. The best way to know what to do is not follow the trend, but do a market survey. A trend is created by someone and is meant to end. If we are following what’s “in” at that time, we may enter the market at the wrong time. Maybe the trend was going to end soon. That is why as a startup, one should be the change. Be the trendsetter but not a follower.

  • GrycowskAJ17

    I have never thought of being an innovator by developing a user instead of a product. It’s genius. Keep the articles coming.

  • Kyle Schiedemeyer

    Great article! I will keep this information in the back of my head whenever I am brainstorming ideas for a new invention. It needs to be simple yet, cheap enough that people are willing to pay for it because it is convenient for them to use. If I could ask Chris Yeh a question it would be, do you have any ideas of your own that you might one day want to pursue and take to the market to make peoples lives easier?

  • KevinThomson32

    I read an article kind of similar to this earlier and it was about entrepreneurs trying to wow the investors with being funny and making them laugh, but when all said and done, your product needs to be able to better someones life and if it doesn’t it will not sell.