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🚦 3-2-1 Traction — Founder-market fit matters more than product-market fit
Also: compelling value props are driven by intrinsic motivation; the simplest way to kill your startup; insight from Hemingway; and making it easy getting started with whatever needs to get done.
Hey friend 👋
Hot takes coming in hot. No sense delaying. Let’s go. 👇
3 ideas from me
Dreams are where startups go to die.
That’s it. That’s the first one.
It isn’t enough to know what your customers want.
Or even what they need or fear, or what jobs they have to be done. Necessary, but insufficient.
If you want to craft compelling value propositions, worthy customer personas, winning business models, lovable user experiences, or any of the myriad keys to startup success, you have to understand your your customers’ intrinsic motivation.
We usually go no deeper than their extrinsic motivation: getting shit done, making things easier, saving money, etc. We’re helping them do things for the consequences of having done them.
You need to dive deeper. From what do our customers get inherent satisfaction just for having done it? What’s driving them? What’s their “why”?
Until you understand that, you can’t speak to customers — you can only speak at them.
Despite all the talk, product-market fit is the last thing that matters.
Literally. Once you have it, the startup work is done.
But the first thing that matters? Founder-market fit.
Founder-market fit is when you have a strong grasp of and intense passion for a sizeable, rapidly growing market.
It’s important because, in the early days, product just doesn’t matter. Even as far as Series A, product is at best a tool you can use to gather data from the market. It’s not enough to create “fit” yet. You have only the founder and the market on which to bet.
If you’re a founder: Find a growing market. Learn all you can about it. Chase it harder than anyone else.
If you’re investor, don’t waste your bets on anything less — regardless of their “traction”.
2 ideas from others
Alexander von Humboldt, an 18th century German naturalist and explorer, on critical thinking:
The most dangerous worldview is the view of those who have never looked at the world.
There are no facts inside the building.
Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman, to himself, as he struggles to reel in a giant marlin in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:
Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.
You too are reeling in a giant marlin.
1 question for you
Speaking of intrinsic motivation, let’s pivot to yours:
What is the one task that, if completed, will make today a success? And what can you do to make it as easy as possible to get started?
Thanks for reading, my friend!
PS… If you’re enjoying 3-2-1 Traction, will you take 6 seconds and forward this issue to a friend? It goes a long way in helping me grow the newsletter (and helping more founders find traction).