Arvid Kahl talks about starting and bootstrapping businesses, how to build an audience, and how to build in public.
Welcome to the Bootstrapped Founder. My name is Arvid Kahl and I talk about bootstrapping,
entrepreneurship and building in public. Today I will talk about one of the most dangerous
misconceptions that first-time founders have about their market. And before that, let me thank the
sponsor of today's episode. One thing that always reliably confuses me in my own businesses, and it
still does to this day, even though I've been doing this for many many years, is dealing with
financials. I love writing, I love coding, but put me in front of a spreadsheet with a bunch of CSV
files from the bank or from some kind of payment processor and I'll just get very very confused.
It is just not for me. I don't enjoy doing this. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be for you either.
Enter Pinto Financial. They streamline your bookkeeping, your forecasting and your cash flow,
but they don't stop there. Pinto takes it to the next level by providing custom video-based monthly
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your financial lifeline, guiding you through the very choppy waters of business financial management.
So if you're ready to navigate these waters with confidence, visit usepinto.com/learn to learn more
about how Pinto Financial can help you build profitably. That's usepinto.com/learn. Alright,
let's get to our main topic today. We're always on the hunt for the silver bullet, the golden ticket
or the quick fix, even when writing resumes for some reason. We tinker, we optimize and we look
for services to help us make our CVs the perfect high-impact document we need them to be. But too
often we make a basic logical mistake, something I'd like to call wishful reasoning. Resumes are an
example here. We think because there's a perfect resume for each employer out there, there must also
be a perfect resume that works for all employers. There's no such thing as a perfect resume that
will work every time. Even experienced hiring managers struggle to say what makes a good resume,
and they have seen hundreds if not thousands of them. Why is that? Well, resumes are hyper contextual.
Each resume is an act of communication between two unique parties. To work well, a resume should be
equally unique in that path of communication. Every CV is a message between a sender and a receiver
with both radically different motivations and intentions. No singular message will ever be
optimal for all potential combinations of those senders and receivers. No two employers want the
exact same thing, and no two employees are ever equally skilled or experienced. So to assume that
you could write a generic resume to have the maximum impact among all those employers you send
it to is foolish. Yet in marketing, we take this path all the time. We want to find the perfect
landing page copy instead of considering how to structure our marketing system to optimally reach
a multitude of different customers one at a time. We always look for the template that works for
every use case. But the truth is there is no one size fits all solution for our marketing efforts.
Every customer is unique and has their own set of needs, wants, and pain points. So instead of trying
to find a single solution that works for everyone, we should focus on understanding our customers and
then tailor our marketing efforts to meet their specific needs in specific ways. This approach
starts with the realization that a good product is specific, at least in the beginning. I know this
won't scale forever, but it's not meant to. You might be tempted to think that the most common
services that we use in our professional lives, stuff like Excel or Google Docs or tools like
Dropbox, have always been great at everything they do. They're certainly used for every possible
task right now. They're being used as general tools. Well, they have become general tools
because when Dropbox started out, it was just a very specific file storage system that met a
lot of resistance for being too opinionated. Google Docs, that's a general tool now, but that came
out of rightly, and that was a web app that was focused first and foremost on real-time collaboration
and not necessarily fully featured word processing. They didn't care about that.
Most successful general tools start out as niche products serving well-defined niches. They are
for all X there exists a Y solution. Each industry needs its own products. Yet so many founders want
to build the general tool first. They want to be the Y for all X. And just as much as sending the
most generic resume to a hundred different employers won't get you a job, neither will your
generic early stage product find solid footing in multiple industries simultaneously. In fact,
spreading your initial target customer persona over way too many audiences will do you a massive
disservice. You'll be unable to receive clear feedback about the viability of your prototypes
because trying to validate a new product in multiple industries at the same time,
that's just diluting an already weak signal. It's quite likely that demand for your product,
intentional conscious demand for your specific solution is very slim before you start. That will
make validation or rather the act of trying to invalidate it of that market assumption
take significantly longer. And that introduces more risk to an already risky act of entrepreneurship.
Eventually, you might find multiple audiences for your product as you explore what's working
and what's not. Eventually. And then you can do a lot of things that allow you to support multiple
customer audiences at the same time. You'll start diving into experiments with new niches outside of
the one you work in and start to segment your customer base into these distinct and well-defined
groups. And instead of one landing page aimed at a singular particular niche, you will establish
individual landing pages for each audience filled with jargon that they only speak in that particular
niche and then start comparing your product to the competitors your prospects use in that particular
industry. You will eventually iterate your way out of your first niche. That's the idea and grow into
a new and exciting markets outside. But you don't start with that. As a bootstrapper, you very likely
don't even have the resources or the mental capacity to divide your focus for this. Not with
specialized competitors everywhere, even in the single niche that you start out with that have
already understood the power of niche alignment and are trying to build the perfect product for
their specific customers in that industry niche. Trying to create a product that is supposed to
appeal to everyone is generally a recipe for failure. The reality is that building a successful
product means addressing a specific need for a particular group of prospective customers.
That doesn't mean that you should skip considering market trends or competitors or potential
disruptions that might hinder or prevent your long-term success. Any bootstrapper has to pay
close attention to market dynamics and consider their broader context to make sure that the chosen
niche that you're operating in is sustainable and aligned with the demands of the people that you
will end up serving. Ever more reason to aim your early business efforts at understanding a particular
group of customers the best you can. That's a well-defined niche and that's where you should start.
Don't try to be the X for all Y. Instead, be the best X you can be for any specific Y that you
choose to serve and empower. And that's it for today. Thank you for listening to the Bootstrap
Founder. You can find me on Twitter at avidkarl@ekahl. You'll find my books and my Twitter
course there as well. If you want to support me and the show, please subscribe to my YouTube
channel, get the podcast in your podcast player of choice and leave a rating and a review by
going to ratethispodcast.com/founder. Any of this will help the show. Thank you very much for listening
and have a wonderful day. Bye bye.