Your friends and family are not “early adopters”

Find your real early adopters and solve their problems instead.

Your friends and family are not “early adopters”

Photo by Caleb Woods

I really hate it when a startup goes with “friends and family” releases rather than finding real customers. So here’s some canned responses to reasons I’ve been told why we should go and speak to friends rather than to our early adopters.

But it’s not ready for the public yet

Unless it’s completely useless, you don’t know whether it’s ready yet. The sooner you get out and speak to your customers, the sooner you learn about what works and what doesn’t. It’s better to start this journey now with a handful of early adopters than launch in six months with all your imagined features.

But we’re in stealth

Stealth doesn’t mean isolating yourselves from your customers. It’s more likely your startup will fail because nobody wants your product than because a competitor learns about your product, drops everything they’re already doing, and then beats you to market.

But they invested

If they’re in the target market, see “But they are in the target market”.

If they’re not, give them a demo instead. They won’t be able give you meaningful feedback.

But what if our competitors see it?

See “But we’re in stealth”.

But we don’t know who will like it yet

Why are you building a product without an idea of who needs it?

Figure out who might need your product, then go show them instead. You’ll then be able to build something that definitely solves their problems rather than guessing what their problems are.

But they are in the target market

If your target market is pretty much everyone, then you’re unlikely to find a problem common between them that you can solve effectively. Pick a target market.

If you have a specific market in mind for your product, and some of your friends and family fall into it, this is probably the exception. But beware, they aren’t a neutral party. Even if they don’t use it, they’ll likely tell you they love it anyway.

Why do I need to find my early adopters?

Pleasing your early adopters is how you enter your market and gain traction. At the beginning of your startup journey, you should be finding a group of people poorly served by your competitors, and collaborating with them to build something they can use.

If you’re not your target market, you need to know them well. You can’t build something in isolation from them and expect them to use it.