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When We Ignore Our Previous Experience for Our Great Startup Idea

I met up with a friend recently who is noodling over an idea. What was interesting was how she was so deep into her idea, and didn’t use her life’s skills and work to help validate the idea.

Like me, she started her professional career in consulting. Like me, we both ignored our acquired consulting skills when building a startup (my example was Body Boss, as described in Postmortem of a Failed Startup).

It’s a funny and sad mistake I’ve seen a lot – starting with yours truly. There’s excitement in the initial idea that people put on the blinders. They (we) ignore experience in the previous “corporate” world. I attribute much of this to emotions running high. Emotions have ways of clouding our judgements and processes.

This happens especially in endeavors we get excited about but do not have explicit professional experience in. For myself and my Body Boss cofounders, that area was fitness. We loved fitness, but we came from outside the industry.

For example, what makes consulting so effective is the initial phase of any project – discovery. In startups, you throw in “customer” in front of the word, and you have a critical foundation of building a company – “customer discovery”. In this phase, consultants interview stakeholders, assess processes, gather surveys and analytics, etc. to formulate a plan. The same should happen in building a startup.

If you have an idea, be careful of being emotionally attached. Balance excitement with grounded thinking. This doesn’t mean shooting down ideas so early on. Instead, take a moment, and recognize how you can apply previous lessons to the opportunity in front of you. Sometimes, that means playing the role of pre-idea. Be the third-party.

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