Blog posts by Brandon Cornuke

How Critical Assumptions Can Make or Break Your Business

July 24, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

“Am I working on the things that matter most?” “How can I get more traction?” “Do I have enough cash to keep going?” These are just a few of the questions that keep entrepreneurs up at night. Unfortunately I'm not here to give you a magic way to erase all those worries. But I can give you one piece of advice that'll make organizing and prioritizing your questions a little easier: work on your critical assumptions. Here's how: Find the guesses that absolutely have to be true for your business to succeed. Every entrepreneur makes guesses. What they're doing hasn't been done before. Ask yourself, "what do I think is true about my customer, their problems, my product, and my team?" Write down things like "I believe my customer is ____" or "I think _____ is a problem that _____ is trying to solve." Make a long list. Then rank each guess based on how detrimental it would be if you're wrong. Take the top of your first list and rank those assumptions by how much or how little you know about each. The most important word in that sentence is “know”. You need concrete evidence to know something is

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The Perks of Punting, Pivoting, and Persevering for Entrepreneurs

July 10, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

If you're starting a business, there's a good chance an assumption you've made will turn out to be wrong. You can hope that day never comes but, trust me, it will. Startups, after all, are full of risky bets and guesses (that's what makes them startups). But even if you know it's coming - even if you're looking for your own weak assumptions - it's tough to absorb the blow of being wrong. Sometimes it's even harder to know what to do next. We're here to help. First, congratulate yourself. As we've discussed, entrepreneurs don't look for evidence that refutes their ideas often enough. If you've discovered a flaw in your plans - say, your customer target was off - that's actually great news. It means you've saved yourself a lot of time and money. Now you have three options: Punt - It's never fun to admit your idea won’t work, but the end of one entrepreneurial journey can be the start of another. Consider whether the circumstances are right to keep going. Do you have the cash? Are the rest of your assumptions still solid? Does your team have the energy to keep going? When you're at a crossroads,

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Combating Confirmation Bias Could Spell Success for Your Startup

June 26, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

Entrepreneurs are a self-confident bunch, and for good reason. The old perception of nine-in-ten startups failing remains as true as ever, and you have to have deep faith in yourself and your idea to face down such long odds. But the gift of self-confidence can also be a liability. As human beings, we're already programmed to find evidence that supports our beliefs. Psychologists call this “Confirmation Bias”, and in ultra-confident entrepreneurs, that bias is often turbo charged… sometimes with expensive consequences. Building a successful startup in today's economy requires a willingness to learn from mistakes and, when necessary, make major adjustments. When you're starting a business, assumptions that once seemed unquestionably true can quickly turn into big misses. As author and entrepreneur Steve Blank famously says, "No business model survives first contact with the customer." Here are three ways entrepreneurs can overcome the confirmation bias and let evidence drive their decisions: Look for disconfirming evidence. It's not easy and it sounds counterproductive, but the best thing a founder can do is look for reasons a new idea won't work (yes, you read that right). If nine out of ten startups fail, assume your first, second, and tenth idea has a

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