Don’t let me rain on your parade

A close friend is working on a start-up. The product is a piece of apparel targeted towards women with a very specific need.

Her experience has been a long slog through various highs and lows, consistent with the prototypical entrepreneurial journey. She recently asked for my perspective on the problem she’s solving, the opportunity for her company, and the value of the space.

I declined to answer. Honestly, I would have loved to hold court for a while, apply some clever-sounding analysis, and dispense “wisdom”. But, I didn’t. Because, it wouldn’t have been helpful for her.

The reason is simple; I know absolutely nothing about her market. I’m not a woman. I don’t have the need she’s addressing. I’ve never even spoken about this need with anyone who might have it. I know nothing about how many women experience it or how big a problem it is for them. In short, I’m incredibly unqualified to have an opinion here.

Instead, the advice I did offer her was to stop letting people who don’t know her target customer and problem well – like me – opine on her start-up.

The entrepreneurial struggle is psychologically draining under ideal circumstances. Ungrounded opinions – especially those that come carefully dressed and strongly held – can do far more damage than benefit. Good advice?

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