In the complicated path from idea to startup, there often come times when a larger-than-normal hurdles get in the way. Not impossible hurdles. Not something outrageous. Just a hurdle that seems difficult, but which can be solved using brute force.
Brute force solutions can take a few hours of effort or a few weeks of effort. The commonality is that they are monotonous, time consuming, and often mind-numbing. And too often, they are overlooked by entrepreneurs, dismissed as either “too time consuming” or “below them”.
Too often, I meet entrepreneurs who want to solve these problems with money. They need 5,000 names for sales leads, and want to attend a trade show, fly off for to meet a potential partner, or spend time talking about how to connect to connectors on social media. Meanwhile, if they instead fire up Google and LinkedIn, they can find thousands of names and email addresses to put on a list, with the brute force effort of copying them from browser to CRM one by one by one by one.
Too often, I meet entrepreneurs who want to solve these problems by team building. They just need $100,000 to build the team to do X, spending 3-6 months to raise the funds and another 3-6 months to build the team, when instead they could buckle down and do X themselves this month. Fill in X with “web site” or “event” or “make the first sale” or one of the many tasks on the validation path.
Personally, I love brute force solutions. They are problems that are solvable by the entrepreneurs themselves, if only they would. They create a barrier to entry to the next competitor, who similarly has no desire to use brute force. They get you to market much faster, as there is no need to wait for anyone or anything to get them done. They teach focus, as to get them done, you can’t work on anything that might be a distraction.
You need a database or marketplace that doesn’t look like a startup. Add 10 or 50 or 100 entries per day, every day for a few weeks, digging through websites to find descriptions, contact information, etc., and your website will begin with some value. The value from your sweat equity.
You want customers? Spend one week generating a list of potential customers, then every day for the next month calling 10 or 20 of those customers. Or emailing 100 per day, each with a personal message. Track who was sent which message, so that you can determine which messages work the best. Then repeat in month two, three, etc. until you either have enough customers to hire a salesperson, or understand from all the “no’s” what you are doing wrong.
Put your shoulder into it, spend your sweat equity building value, and brute force your way from idea to revenues.