Sharpening The Entrepreneurial Arrow

It’s been tough go lately.  I managed to find a new place to live, move most of my stuff into storage, re-align the business, loose a few team members, all the while keeping the dream alive.

I want to talk about the last one for a little bit: keeping the dream alive.  At Seconds, we recently discovered a few things.

First, we indeed have built a kick ass mobile payment system.   The thing just works, and it works ridiculously fast.  People are very excited and using it repeatedly each month.  We have grown each and every month we’ve been in operation.

Next, after a number of meetings with investors it became clear we were onto something but not yet fully baked.  I kept hearing “but what market are you targeting?  Seconds is helping which market become more efficient again?”  This is the main reason we struggled to raised a seed round, we weren’t ready no matter how much I told my self otherwise.

Lastly, it’s tough to quit.  Once you have a working product and have daily usage, it’s extremely difficult to walk away.  Maybe I am programmed differently but I simply cannot quit something I have started just because it’s taking a bit longer than I originally thought.

Put all these together and what do you get?   A kick ass product, not yet fully baked but its too early in the game to quit.

It then became clear if I was to keep the dream alive it was time to sharpen the arrow and get back in the game.

1. Redefine the vision

Seconds had to look in the mirror and ask itself “what type of payments system did it wanted to be?”  We couldn’t be all things to all people so we are now choosing what specific market to zero in on and focus our energy, marketing and branding.  Invert the arrow above and that is what your market focus should be.  Extremely narrow at first, and only when you have nailed it with the first market do you extend your product to other markets and new customers to grow your business.  It took me a while to figure out how sharp our arrowhead needed to be.

2. Re-engage the team

Anytime a team goes through challenges there will be falloffs.  When sharpening the arrow a leader must revisit the commitment with each team member and determine if it’s still “go time”, or “time to go”.   There’s no right answer here.  All you are looking for is the maintained commitment of each member of the team.  If it’s still there then re-engagement on the new direction is a refreshing feeling of excitement.  If it’s time to go, all parties involved will feel better for parting ways respectfully.  With Seconds, I have actually tightened the team and sharpened the edges to form a team that better fits our current development requirements.

3. Redesign the product 

A new direction and tighter focus will result in needed product changes.  We have been hard at work redesigning the features and functions of Seconds, focusing on the speedy payment functionality and clean user interface.  Fred Wilson has a great post on determining “the atomic unit” of your product and doubling down on the specific functionality that makes up your unique product.  In fact, focusing on that one function and stripping out all other frivolous features will lighten your product and create a better overall user experience.

As an entrepreneur you should always be sharpening your arrows.

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