Good morning, believe nation. Today’s message is make something people want. Over to you, Sam Altman.
Startups, to be successful, have to build something that people want. If you get that right, you can get everything else wrong. Pretty much, if you get that wrong, you can get everything else perfect and we see this all the time. We see startups that hire the best lawyer in the valley. They get a beautiful office. They work with really great accountants and a great PR firm.
They do everything that a startup needs to do, except build a product that customers or users want and this is so important. This is probably the most important piece of startup advice in the early days. This is the only thing that matters, you have to do this. You can ignore all the other advice.
“Startups, to be successful, have to build something that people want. ” – Sam Altman
You can ignore all of the crazy stuff that people do when they’re trying to advise you about how to set up a company. In fact, you should ignore most advice. Most startup advice is terrible. You should feel free to ignore any of this too, except this one thing. If your startup doesn’t make something the users want, the startup will never ever be successful.
Evan: Making something people want is massively important and if you don’t do it, your company will fail, but it’s only half the equation. You also have to love what you’re making. This is where you will have ultimate success as an entrepreneur and it doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to university or business school or had a history with parents as entrepreneurs or any of that. Doesn’t matter, this is the single most important thing to understand and it’s easy. Anybody can pick it up.
You will have success as an entrepreneur when you make something that people want, you’re providing value, and you love what you do. These have to be intersected. They have to match. When you can combine those two things together, you have a successful business ’cause look what happens when the two things don’t align. If you’re making something that people want, but you don’t love it, you’re never going to put in the work, the effort, the grind to become the best because there’s somebody who will also make something people want and does love it and they’re always going to crush you.
“Making something people want is massively important and if you don’t do it, your company will fail, but it’s only half the equation. You also have to love what you’re making.” – Evan Carmichael
They’re going to be putting in 16 hour days and just dreaming about it every single day and telling all their friends and trying to find ways to make it work and for you, you don’t care enough about it ’cause you don’t love it, so that model’s not going to work. You may make a little bit of money ’cause you see an opportunity, but it’s never going to be the thing that will help you take off. It’s never going to be the best version of you because you’re doing something that you’re not passionate about. On the flip side, if you’re doing something that you love but is useless to other people, then you’ve got a hobby.
That’s great, go out and do that thing that you love, but if you can’t find a way to add value to other people’s lives and make something that they would actually pay for, you don’t have a business either and so the ultimate success comes when you can combine those two things together. You got the thing that adds value to people’s lives and that people really want and you love doing it and as long as those two things are in harmony, then you’ve got a massively successful business that could change the course of your life and the people around you as well.
So, the question of the day today is I’m curious are you making something that people actually want?
Are you there yet? Are you getting great feedback yet? I’m curious, leave it in the comments below and I’ll join in the discussion. I also want to give a quick shout out to Herman Pienaar. Herman, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word. It really really really means a lot to me and I hope you’re enjoying the read.
Thank you guys so much for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is and I’ll see you again tomorrow morning for another shot of Entspresso.
Evan: Hey, believe nation, thank you so much for watching. If you want to learn more about this subject, get a little bit deeper on it, I’m going to share some extra bonus clips that I hope you’ll enjoy.
What’s the single worst marketing decision that you can make? And I think we’ve all been there. It’s that you start with a crappy product, but as marketers, this is what we do day in and day out. Our job starts when the product is finished, but a growth actor says why? Why can’t the product be improved? Why does it have to start, why does it have to start so late in the process? Why are we getting handed this final product when market feedback would incorporate into the product the elements that make it successful?
So, when marketers stop thinking of their job as to simply work on what’s already been done, but to answer these questions, who is the product for, why would they use it, why do I use it, marketing is baked into the product, so I love this quote from Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator. He says, “Make stuff people want.” That’s the best marketing decision that you can make and I think if you look at a company like Instagram, you see this very clearly, right? Instagram launched as a Foursquare competitor called Burbn. It was a geo-location service and it had a feature that allowed people to upload photos and put filters on them.
It got a little bit of traction, but nothing truly profound and so they decided they’re going to zoom in on this single feature. They’re going to throw everything that they’ve done out so far and they’re going to rebrand as Instagram. It launches. I think it does something like 25,000 downloads its first day and it sells to Facebook a year later for a billion dollars, so you could argue that the best marketing decision that Instagram made was changing from Burbn to Instagram. Everything else was extra. Everything else was window dressing. The product was the marketing.
Most businesses are the same, whether you’re selling energy products or whether any consumer products. If it’s useful to people, the rest is just business, so if you find something or invent something that’s really useful, at that point, it’s really common, whatever you’re selling. The process is not that different and our process is maybe a little bit different because we really don’t have MBA type processing. We basically common sense. You know, we look at businesses really in a simple way. You make good stuff and you sell it.
You know, instead of all the high affluent words, which I really don’t understand like brand awareness and brand equity and all the fancy terminologies people use that they don’t have a product. So, what we did was we simply stick to fundamentals, which is you make a really good product and 80% of marketing is making a really good product and then you go out there and if people like it, they agree with you, then they buy it. Actually, you’ll find most of the products that they say are good are marginal. Right?
“Most businesses are the same, whether you’re selling energy products or whether any consumer products.” – Manoj Bhargava
Most of the folks that come up with products usually use some kind of a gimmick. In other words, gee, let’s make it pink if it’s for women or let’s make what’s his name famous person endorse it. Products themselves are marginal and then they say, “Well, no, it’s a good product.” Well, my question is do you use it? If you’re going to go out there and sell it, do you use it yourself? Does your family use it? And if they don’t, why are you selling it? You know, so really you’ll find most of the fellas that say, “We have great products, but we didn’t get success,” is they really don’t use the product. They think everybody else should, but not us.
We’re superior to our own product, so there’s a compromise amongst people about the quality of what they sell and quality’s also misunderstood. In other words, quality starts with if a customer doesn’t need it, if it doesn’t provide something that they’re going to pay for. We have different technical terms. I mean, our technical terms are slam dunk. You know, everybody understands what that is. You got a slam dunk product or do you have a good product? For us, we get pitched several products a week and if it’s a good product, we don’t go out there and sell it.
“If it’s useful to people, the rest is just business, so if you find something or invent something that’s really useful, at that point, it’s really common, whatever you’re selling.” – Manoj Bhargava
It’s got to be slam dunk. It’s got to be where nobody will refuse it and then you have a hard time with it, so the flaw is really they don’t have good products. Definition of a good product is it will do well. Now, there’s some amount of execution, but I would say that if you don’t have a great product, any amount of execution is going to only buy you a little time. After that, everybody will figure out that this is not that good and not buy it anymore.
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