“Can you please help me figure out how to prove my idea with Lean?”

“Sure, what are you working on.”

“Oh, I can’t tell you. It’s confidential.”

I’ve had this conversation at least 10 times in the past year with an aspiring entrepreneur. They wanted advice and guidance on how to use lean with their idea, then refused to share what they were working on. One person wanted me to sign an NDA before we chatted… at a bar… at midnight. What??

People who do not talk about their ideas are at a sore disadvantage. Now I’m not talking about broadcasting your grand plan to a million people, but picking a few connections that you trust and respect can yield helpful advice and feedback.

I am currently validating an idea with my team here at Techpeaks. I’ve reached out to a few people back in NYC to receive their feedback and do a few interviews. Their insights have been inspiring and helpful.

Tim introduced me to the Jobs to Be Done framework and to help me align my idea around it.

Tohm shared his experience at his company and helped me think through the challenges and benefits of our current idea for selling to the potential customers.

Adam helped us streamline our goals and tests so we could focus on the technical feasibility of the project and not get bogged down by going too broad, too fast.

Jon and Pamela gave us a great way to test our idea very lean so we can begin starting experiments this week.

Some of my assumptions have been squashed. Some of them have been validated (so far!). It feels good to get the feedback, “Oh that’s a good idea”, but it’s been more helpful and constructive when people say, “Stop. The first part of that sounds interesting. The rest is crap. Focus on the beginning.” I find myself eagerly waiting for those moments to come up in the conversation.

So to those of you out there saying, “I can’t tell you what I’m working on, but it’s going to be awesome”… is it? Who is going to buy it? Have you asked your potential customers what they think? My advice to you is:

  • Do interviews.
  • Ask for advice.
  • Don’t broadcast your idea to the entire world, but tell someone.
  • Once you ask for advice, shut up.
  • Listen to what the person has to say.
  • Don’t get defensive, just explain your thoughts.
  • Expect criticism, it can only help you.

I’m overwhelmed by just how smart the people I know are. Thank you to everyone who has helped me, guided me, and have been truly interested in what I’m doing. I can’t wait to return the favor one day.