Three questions to ask yourself before starting a business or getting attached to a business idea:
1. What resources are you willing to put in? time, money, risk? 2. Who do you want your customers to be? 3. What do you want to get out of this?
I came across these questions in a Seth Godin interview about his latest book The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. The 1st and the 3rd questions make sense. The 2nd one seems less obvious, more unexpected. I assert that this is the most important decision for entrepreneurs:
Who do you want your customers to be? Or your users, students, readers, clients? Who is your thing for? Who do you serve?
The initial appeal of being self-employed is that you have complete control over your time. You decide what to do, when and how to do it. You are your own boss, you don't answer to anyone. However, if our goal is to be successful as an entrepreneur, we should seek to change this as soon as possible. We should be eager to be on the hook for something to someone. The real appeal of doing-your-own-thing then is not that you don't have to answer to anyone, it's that you get to decide who that is. Who you want your customers to be, who your work is for. Once your decide, then you're on the hook to serve this group. This is an important decision as we get to serve who we like. It helps to like your customers, to be able to relate to them and have the desire to dedicate your work to helping them succeed.
Being On The Hook and Smallest Viable Audience
People generally are reluctant to be 'on the hook' for something. The Practice makes the case that actually 'being on the hook' is where you want to be. Because if your work benefits others and you create things that are useful, then your customers/readers/users will seek out your work. They'll be waiting for you and if you don't show up, they'll wonder what happened. This is what it means to be on the hook.
You also want to be on the hook to a group that is as specific and as small as possible. You don't want to be on the hook to anybody and everybody. This is called the smallest viable audience in The Practice.
Read more at The Leaf Node, an experimental newsletter that I started as a forcing function to ship and share something every week. I plan to write at least until November 2021. I'm putting myself on the hook by sharing here :)