Each successful new venture has four concurrent development activities that they are involved in:
Most entrepreneurs start with the product development activity and ignore the other three. Steve Blank and the Lean Startup movement argue strongly for starting with customer development. Linda Holliday at Citia suggests that you have to go beyond customer development and create an audience well before you can start creating customers. The crowd funding movement made popular by Kickstarter goes even farther and provides a vehicle for entrepreneurs to co-create the product with their audience.
The product and customer development activities are what is visible to the external world – above sea level if you will. The other two levels are invisible to the external world and yet just as important as the audience and customer development – talent and investor development. A smart entrepreneur is always developing the talent in the organization as fast as they can handle it. Investor development is often left to the last moment or worse, started way too early. Investor development is the most obvious example of strategic networking for the entrepreneur – you have to invest in the potential relationships long before you have a company or a product.
So where are you in your process of developing all four resources?