customerfight

Half the battle of a start-up is simply getting started, but once you have an idea and a team, there comes another hurdle: finding the right product-market fit.

The quest to product-market fit or ‘PMF’ is often filled with false positives, failed features, and trying to figure out the fastest possible way to generate revenue.

But what does that look like in real life? How do you measure your path to PMF? How do you validate along the way? These are questions that I hear time and time again from entrepreneurs, so I thought it was high time to share the lessons that we learned (the hands-on way) at ConsumerBell on our journey to PMF.

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StartupBus-BeNeLux1

“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else”.
- Benjamin Franklin

Starting a company nowadays is pretty easy. You just need a designer, a hacker, and someone doing the marketing. Give three people an internet connection and they are off to go, right?

The answer to this question seems to be divided. Lean startup enthusiasts will typically chime in with a big ‘yes.’ But the rest of us? We’re convinced that it should take years to get up and running.

We come up with excuses like “I’m not experienced enough,” “I can’t find a co-founder”, “I don’t have an idea” etc. Yeah, some of those excuses are valid. But most of the time, we’re wrong. We end up wasting time waiting for a jump that never happens.

This was something that I wanted to prove — that the ‘jump’ seems much crazier than it actually is. So, I joined the StartupBus, which is exactly what it sounds like — a bus ride where entrepreneurs get together and launch companies. Within 72 hours, I was part of a team and bringing a business concept to life. On paper, it was crazy. But in reality, it was one of the sanest things I’ve ever done.

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Couple Holding Hands

I founded Frog2Prince, an online dating consultancy that helps people perfect their online dating profiles. You know what running a company and working with daters has taught me?

Well, finding is a date is not all that different than starting a business. Both require confidence, sticking your neck out, and being willing to fail.

Entrepreneurs are in a unique position. They work a lot and feel others don’t understand their bustling lifestyles. But ultimately, entrepreneurs want to find love like everybody else.

That’s why I’m here to help.

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Web

Caroline McCarthy consults for clients like Gawker Media, Mashery, and Social Media Week. In past lives, she was a journalist at CNET. Her experiences include:

  • Serving as managing editor for Google’s marketing insights journal, Think Quarterly, and industry partnerships manager for Google+.
  • Appearing as a commentator digital trends on TV and radio news ranging from NBC’s TODAY show to NPR’s Talk of the Nation.
  • Executing event and sponsorship strategies at SXSW, Social Media Week, Advertising Week, and the Sundance Film Festival.
  • Ranking on the Forbes top 30 under 30 list for media. 

Ah, startup PR. The uncertainty. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to get a functional product ready, there’s the added stress of making your work visible.

I’ve been on both sides of the table as a journalist for CNET and as a consultant. Here are the most common questions I’ll see.

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Looking into the Sun

Nobody becomes an entrepreneur because it’s easy. What these business leaders share in common is that they’re driven by an unstoppable dream. It’s a life calling, not a career. We hold ourselves to relentlessly high standards, and when we fall, we fall hard.

Luckily, so many others have been there before.

In honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week, here are 23 lessons learned from some of Clarity’s top entrepreneurs.
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Chris 1

I’ve had 15 jobs since I was 14 – a janitor at a school, guitar player, and a barista. I kept quitting because I’d get bored. So I started building companies.

I failed over and over. But I kept at it. And this year – six years after my first failure – I sold two companies in just a few short months.

  • The first was TaskBullet, a virtual assistant platform. I sold it for $10,000 to a guy who collects profitable hobby companies (“muses”). I sold the company because I was bored with it – but we’ll get to that story later.
  • The second was TOFU Marketing, an agency that I started and grew to employ 4 people. I sold the company to a Provo, Utah based agency called Fit Marketing. It was the best way to help my company scale.

The Opposite of a Starry-Eyed Success

When we think about exits, we imagine 9-figure buyouts from companies Facebook and Google. The truth is, 5-to-6 figure exits are happening for small business owners every day.

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Shoemoney 2

Hi, my name is Jeremy Schoemaker. Although you might know me better by my online moniker, ShoeMoney, or maybe you’ve visited my blog ShoeMoney.com.

  • In 2007 I started a company called AuctionAds built around the eBay affiliate program. 3 months after launch the company had over 25,000 publishers producing over 2M/month in revenue. The company sold to MediaWhiz only 4 months after launch.
  • In 2010 I was named Fast Company’s most influential person on the internet.
  • In 2010 I launched my own online video training series called the ShoeMoney System. To date, the product has sold over 10M in revenue and now runs on autopilot on Udemy, Clickbank and other 3rd party outlets.

But where I have done really well is selling other people’s stuff.

To date I have sold over 50 million in gross product sales of other people’s products and services as an affiliate.

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Volcano Jess 1

The daughter of FBI agents, Jess Pelaez was destined for a life of adventure.  As a volcano researcher, she’s been on expeditions to Hawaii, Peru, and Wyoming. The nonprofit entrepreneur has dodged cartel shootouts in Mexico, ridden the Mongol Derby horse race, and crashed an $8M remote-operated submersible into the bottom of the ocean.

Today, she and her co-founder (and husband) Carlos Pelaez are building Blueprint Earth, a California based nonprofit that helps scientists work collaboratively to replicate the world’s environment.

In today’s interview, she shares:

  • The power of execution – how far you can take can idea in just a few months
  • The experience of working with her husband as her co-founder
  • Why she’s tackling a scientific problem much bigger than herself
  • How she views her role as a woman in science and as a female nonprofit entrepreneur
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Clarity - Answers - iPhone - The Future of Reputation and Monetization

After 16 months of steady growth, we’re proving that the future of consulting looks a lot like Clarity.

For those who don’t know us, Clarity is a micro-consulting platform that enables the exchange of high-impact business advice, on demand, over the phone. There are currently over 20,000 experts on Clarity and over 30,000 calls have been completed to date.

Today we’re announcing one of the biggest releases we’ve made to Clarity since launching in May of 2012 and it starts with a new feature called Answers.

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email-marketing-header

I don’t know if you noticed, but marketers are in a tizzy: GMail’s new tabbed inbox has thrown everybody who does email marketing for a loop. GMail now automatically sorts incoming email into four categories (primary, social, updates, promotions), which makes everything that’s not marked primary a lot harder to find and less likely to be read — by about 25%, according to Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint. And Tunguz points out that the GMail change is just one of two big changes underway. Look at how much of the action in web apps happens on mobile now: Read More…

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