Being an entrepreneur is tough. I believe that one of the reasons that successful entrepreneurs are so revered is that they symbolize the triumph of the little guy who battles insurmountable odds and wins. The reason we love those stories so is we all know that for every FedEx/ YouTube/ [insert name of entrepreneur who made it here] triumph there are thousands of entrepreneurial ventures which close their doors after a bloody but valiant battle to win against the odds.
One of the keys to winning that battle is to keep your focus squarely upon your customer. However, when said “customer” is defined as a faceless mob, it’s hard to keep the customer’s wants and needs in focus. That’s why, in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results, I encourage business owners to create target customer profiles. Target customer profiles help decision makers keep customers in mind by assigning a name and a face to each customer group.
Thanks to Ben Yoskovitz for his post Startup Communities and Startup Failure which points out possibly the most instructive and poignant blog post ever written.
Roger Ehrenberg is Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners and a principle investor in Monitor110. In his post Monitor110: A Post Mortem, Roger digs deep into the reasons (hindsight is always 20:20) why Monitor 110 didn’t rise to the ranks of legendary success.
The reasons Roger gives for the death of his startup are incredibly insightful and poignant. They should be required reading for anyone who dreams of creating their own inspirational entrepreneurial success story. For those of use pushing our own 500lb lead weight up the hill, those of use who are trying to achieve business success on a smaller scale, these words are worth more than their weight in gold.
Think that a nice round of VC funding is just what your business needs to grow? Not according to Roger. Reason #4 on his list of the seven deadly sins is too much money. He writes:
We weren’t forced early on to be scrappy and revenue focused. We wanted to build something that was so good from the get-go that the market would simply eat it up. Problem was, with all that money we hid from the market while we were building, almost ensuring that we would come up with something that the market wouldn’t accept.
What can I say but “Ouch!” Roger thinks that VC funding kept their focus on the product and kept them at arm’s length from their customers.
This website is ALL about focusing on customers… but one deadly sin to which I will confess is spending WAY too long on is product development. It took me 2 years to write my first book. I’m still pounding out my 2nd nearly 2 years after that. I too am a sinner. I try to create products that are so good that the market will literally beat a path to my humble website.
The quest for perfection leads to ruin. Roger’s post means Monitor 110′s legacy may be the greatest business story ever told.
As promised, here’s a requiem for Monitor 110:
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
(Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.)