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Microconf Starter 2018 Recap

Christian Genco

Founder of https://fileinbox.com Also working on https://microconf.gen.co and other stuff at https://gen.co/projects

Dallas, Texas
Christian Genco

Christian took the recap notes for every Microconf talk at Starter and Growth (on the site you're reading this on right now - hey!).

This talk is a recap of the main themes he saw coming up over and over in last year's Starter conference. If you like this recap, check out the full recaps on more talks at microconf.gen.co.

Those main themes break down into: choose who to help, talk about their pain, and help them solve it.

1. Choose who to help

Start building a business by choosing the people you're helping, not building a thing.

If you start building a business by building a thing instead of picking a group of people to help, you run the risk of building something nobody wants.

This is counterintuitive. A lot of Microconf people are some type of engineer, and engineers love making thing.

But Business, ultimately, exist to make human lives better. If you start with a thing instead of a group of people, it's really easy to make a thing no human actually wants. That's fine for practicing technical skills, but microconf is about building business - not (necessarily) learning sexy JavaScript frameworks.

You're building a business, not a charity, so you should choose people to help that:

  1. have money (so not homeless snowboard bums)
  2. that you can reach (it helps to pick a group of people you're already a part of). Also, you can't reach everyone. The more specific and small your initial audience, the easier it is to reach and help them.
  3. And lastly, are people you want to help.

That last point is often overlooked, but it's very important. To run and grow a successful business, you're going to be interacting with these people all the time. If the prospect of interacting with dentists every day for the rest of your life makes you think "oh god no," then don't pick dentists!

2. Talk about their pain

You might be thinking to yourself, "talking to people? that sounds crushingly terrifying!" And you're right. It is. But here's how you're gonna do it:

Invite them to a quick call to interview them about the work they do. People love talking about themselves - how cool would it be if somebody emailed you asking to hear all about you?

Here's an email template you can use:

Hey ${name}!

Would you be up for an interview about the work
 you do? It'd be an easy 30-minute chat.
No trick questions :)

If so, feel welcome to name the easiest time
 here, and I'll give you a call then:

Thanks so much!

${yourName}, ${yourTitle} ${company}

If they ignore your email, Don't be afraid to follow up. You can follow up seven times and it's not weird. One of the founders of microconf built a business around sending follow-up emails. People who are making money are probably really busy making that money and they appreciate the reminders.

If you can, go physically in person to where they are. The more in-person you are, the easier it is to communicate.

Instead of trying to take notes during the conversation, record it and have it transcribed afterwards. You'll be able to listen better that way.

Lastly, instead of talking at them, listen to them.

If you ask a question like "do you like my idea", they'll say "yes" because saying "no" would be rude. Instead, ask open ended questions like "can you tell me about the types of things you buy", "can you tell me about the type of work you do," "what's an example of something that really annoys you at work," and follow up on interesting points by saying things like "tell me more about when patients are late to appointments and it messes up your whole day so you poke them extra hard in the gums"

You'll know you've nailed talking with people about their pain when you stop learning new things in your conversations. (unless you're super bad at listening and haven't learned anything the entire time.)

3. Help them solve their problems

You know who you're helping, you know what their problems are, so you're now in a great position to help them solve their problems.

When you're focused on helping specific people solve real problems, you'll avoid mistakes like building something nobody wants (you know people want it because it helps solve a pain a bunch of people independently told you they had).

Being focused on solving real problems also saves you from spending too much time on details nobody cares about.

It's really easy to try to make your thing perfect before you help anyone with it. It's probably not helping anyone that the first beta of your auto-scaling SaaS is shipping with complex multi-user permissions, so skip it! If it's not helping someone, don't do it.

It's much better to make something just good enough and ship it. You can always make it better later once you've gotten feedback.

Because you've already done the work of finding people, and you know the precise words they use to explain their problems, it's going to be super easy for you to market. When you're writing a landing page or a facebook ad, just copy the words you have in your conversation transcripts](https://microconf.gen.co/claire-suellentrop/).

Final notes

I got into this because I really like building software. The more I've learned from the Microconf community, the more I've realized that Software business isn't about the software - it's about helping people. There are loads of people I've met here that have built incredible business with thousands of customers and wrote zero lines of code.

You can get sick of working on a particular product, but if you fall in love with the process of helping people you'll lay the foundation for building a great business.

Stuck on a problem building your business? Christian would love to help! Tweet him @cgenco.

Free "Microconf Recap" eBook

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