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Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #87
It's time to stop asking for other people's opinions
I know getting (and giving) advice is a core part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. And I’m certainly not opposed to it. After all, I spend lots of time writing articles and newsletters filled with advice. But entrepreneurs have to be better about knowing when to solicit advice and what kinds of advice to listen to. At least, that’s the point I’m trying to make in this issue’s featured article. After all, a person’s advice is really just that person’s opinion, and opinions are inherently flawed (especially mine!).
Or rather, most of my opinions are flawed except for the following opinion, which is that Drupal is awesome!
What? You’ve never heard of Drupal? It’s the second most popular open source content management system for websites (after Wordpress), and it’s basically how I learned to code. I mention this because, in this week’s episode of Web Masters, I got to speak with the guy who invented Drupal: Dries Buytaert. Not gonna lie… it was kind of like speaking with a childhood hero. #Fanboy
On that note, I thought I’d take moment to ask all of you a question. To this point in my Web Masters journey, I’ve been mostly interviewing people I care about. But it’s a big Internet out there, and I’m certain it was built by lots of people I’ve never heard of or encountered. Who would you want to hear from?
Send your suggestions and I’ll see if I can get them on the podcast.
Getting other people’s opinions might seem like a good idea, but it’s probably not as helpful as you think.
You may or may not know what Drupal is, but, when you're using a website, there's a decent chance you're using it. It's one of the most popular open source content management platforms in the world. Find out how it got started on this episode of Web Masters featuring Dries Buytaert, Drupal's founder.
Listen now on:
…or search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
As an entrepreneur, you surely send lots of emails. But are you sending good emails? Here’s a list of common mistakes you’re probably making.
Office Hours Q&A
I’ve had an idea for a product for a few years, and I’m still surprised it doesn’t exist. I think I’m at a point in my career and life where I’m ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge myself, so to speak, so I’ve decided I’d like to create it.
I don’t have any product design experience, but I’ve found a few companies that are willing to help me design it and prototype it. I’m emailing you because I’m not sure how to choose the right one.
Obviously, cost is a factor. I’m surprised by how much more some companies charge than others. I’m wondering if there’s an actual quality difference in the results. I don’t want cost to be the only thing I base my decision on. I’m willing to pay more money now to ensure a better product.
At the same time, I can’t figure out how to tell which of the design companies are better or worse. Do you have any advice for picking the right manufacturing partner in this kind of scenario?
I’m sure I don’t have any world-changing advice in terms of how to pick the best manufacturing partner. For starters, I’ve always been more of a “software guy,” so physical products are a bit outside my wheelhouse. Still, even in the software development world, we have outsourcing shops that, I’m guessing, are similar, and I’ve had to deal with a few of those.
When evaluating an outsourcing partner, I’d always ask for examples of previous work and references. If the company wouldn’t share the contact info for references, it was an immediate “no.”
From there, I’d do my diligence and call the references and ask for their experiences. It was a time consuming and somewhat annoying process, but, in the end, it was usually worth the effort.
I imagine the same process should work for you.
The bigger thing I want to address with your question is the phrase you’ve used at the beginning. Regarding your product idea, you write: “I’m still surprised it doesn’t exist.”
Whenever I encounter that phrase, it raises alarm bells for me. It leads to the follow-up question: “Why doesn’t it exist?”
When something doesn’t exist in the world, that’s not an accident. There’s a reason. Do you know the reason? Do you understand the reason? Are you confident you can overcome the reason?
Your question doesn’t have much detail about the work you’ve done to validate your didea, and I don’t want to assume you haven’t done any. However, before I’d encourage you to spend money on hiring anyone to help design and prototype something, I just want to make sure you’ve done your due diligence to validate the opportunity you think you’ve found.
Remember that whatever companies you’re talking with about helping you develop a prototype aren’t good sources of feedback on your idea. They get paid regardless of whether or not your idea succeeds, so it’s in their best interest to convince you to hire them, not help you figure out whether or not you have something worth developing.
Before you hire someone, be sure people in the world really want the thing you’re building and that you know how to reach those people in a cost-effective way. If you don’t, hiring a great manufacturing partner won’t matter.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!