Warning: message of tough love
What's the point of "starting a company"? You say there's nothing else you'd rather do, but why? Why "start a company"?
I'd rather hear you say "I'm building a business." Its a small difference, but its a huge mindset shift. "Starting a company" is empty and selfish. "Building a business" means creating value for others. Even in your emails & messages, you're blindly focused on your product and your business and your emotions. You care way too much about yourself.
Worse still, you also said you don't know what you're doing wrong. So let's make it clear: focus on your user. Where is their problem? What makes them tick? At this stage of the "start" is to identify all the pain-points. Then you can continue to go deeper into their heart & mind to find the root cause.
This step can be very confusing because you won't have any orientation. You may see so many superficial pain points, but which is their real problem? Also it feels weird to spend time not making money, but it's an investment in your foundation. You're simply collecting emotional data points to use later. What do they really care about?
"Building a business" means creating value for others.
By really understanding your user, you'll be able to brainstorm better solutions. Only after this, can you return to what you're currently doing: prototyping. Build cheap and quick tests to deepen your learning of their needs (users' needs & wants are where a business's real value comes from).
Its a long road, and you're still at step 1; building the foundation of a business. (By the way, the foundation is made up of your users and their real needs).
When you can state their real core challenge back to the user and get their eyes to well up with emotion, then you have a foundation. Get them to cry, not you. Empathize with them. Let their pain be your pain.
Only then you can "start."
This post was originally an email I sent to an entrepreneur in San Francisco this week and has been reformatted for LinkedIn.
The content was rooted in personal experience: after 4 years of building up Let's Make Great!'s creativity consulting business, I still consider myself at the starting point. Especially here in Shanghai, where consumers and clients' needs change so quickly, my team and I are always learning and adapting.
What was your "starting" experience like? What happened?