Making It Official, Branding, And Laughing Off Mistakes
Back sooner than we thought
Let me start with an apology to those of you who thought you were signing up for a monthly newsletter. I, too, thought this would be a monthly newsletter—and then I checked my accelerator assignments for this week. The unsubscribe button is at the bottom. I won't take it personally.
For those of you who are still with me: Making it official
Over the past few weeks, my accelerator, Founder Institute, has pushed me not to commit to a final business idea too soon. Despite thinking I knew what I wanted to build, I was required to think of at least 2 variations to that idea—whether it was addressing a slightly different problem, addressing the problem in a slightly different way, or addressing the same problem for a slightly different customer.
One of our mentors—who spent 5 years at a prestigious VC firm and has personally invested in 150+ startups, so I'm basically taking his word as gospel—said something I thought was really interesting: in his experience, one of the main reasons startups fail is not thinking about and planning for, these kinds of variations.
And guess what: I'm not moving forward with my original idea. I'm moving forward with one of the variations I tested.
I thought I was building this solutions with lawyers as my customers—until I tested a variation where I built the solution for legal tech companies. And I never would've realized how important that difference was if I hadn't thought about slightly different approaches.
The same mentor I referenced above said something a few weeks ago that stuck with me like glue (again, gospel): it doesn't matter if your business solves a problem people care about if they don't care enough. If your customers aren't screaming about the problem you're trying to solve, it's not a big enough problem.
Don't get me wrong, the lawyers I spoke with all resonated with the issues they face with tech adoption, and most of them really loved the idea of something that made using new technology easier. But they weren't screaming about it—and the legal tech companies were.
So, gone are the days of my multi-solution website. I'm making my chosen customer-base official.
Branding: What makes a good mission statement?
Right before I started writing this, I was on a call with a seriously experienced branding expert to get feedback on how I'm presenting my company.
At the beginning of the call, she admitted that she didn't really understand what my company was trying to do. Given, she's not in my target market, but still problematic. So I explained the problem again. I showed her a potential competitor's website so she could see examples of some of the features I was describing. Still wasn't sticking.
Finally, she asked me to take a step back. "What's your mission? What's your vision?"
I started digging around my computer for the mission statement I had written the other day.
"No, don't read me something pre-written. Just tell me. Whatever words come out in the moment are going to explain it better than whatever you wrote."
Here's what I said:
Legal tech adoption means a more efficient legal industry, and a more efficient legal industry means better access to justice.
She told me to scrap whatever I wrote and write that down as soon as we hung up. (This is me writing it down.)
I'd love to hear what you think—website worthy, or back to the drawing board?
Laughing off mistakes
Last week I talked about how being in accelerator requires sacrificing your dignity and being a little shameless (like asking people to share your website on social media—Lacy, if you're reading this, you're a rockstar!).
This week, the embarrassment is actually my last newsletter. I was in a rush to send it out before my accelerator deadline, so I didn't do much proofreading (read: I did zero proofreading).
I had multiple people point out a typo I made. I was really embarrassed. I take pride in my writing—to the point where I usually read something at least 6 times before I send it out.
But this is a lesson I'm learning through the accelerator: you have to keep moving. Spending an extra hour proofreading a newsletter that most people are probably going to delete isn't worth it. It's more productive to press the button and make the mistake.
So on that note, I'm going to take my own advice and press send. No proofread. I've got a pitch deck to finish.
See you next week... or next month... or after my next epic sprint. Accelerators are unpredictable.