I enjoy hearing how founders became aware of the problem their start-up is solving. Sometimes it’s a shower moment. Other times, it’s an aha moment while they’re working on something else. A founder recently shared his story, and it was something I hadn’t heard before. While he was pitching a product, he realized the audience wasn’t feeling it. Translation: the pitch was bombing. He stopped mid pitch. He acknowledged that his pitch wasn’t resonating with the audience. He asked them to share their most pressing problem in exchange for ending the meeting early (i.e., giving the audience some time back). The VP shared a problem the founder had never considered. His team did some research, realized it’s a huge problem, and pivoted.
I love how this founder didn’t force his product on perspective customers. Instead, he read his audience and made the most of the meeting by asking the right question and listening with an open mind.
Good things eventually happen when founders listen to their customers. It can be hard. Founders want everyone to love the solution they spent countless hours building, but sometimes the love just isn’t there. The mindset has to be that what you want most is a successful company—the beating heart of which is solving the customer’s true problem (not the one you wanted to solve). If your solution isn’t resonating with customers, that’s OK. Consider taking more time to listen to their problem.