Startup Lesson 21: Change. is. hard.

So you’ve done your customer discovery. You’ve built your MVP. You’ve got some prospects lined up who said they’d move from prospects to customers.  You’re ready. Let’s do this!

Now remember what you set out to do: change the way your prospects overcame a problem in their business.  What’s the operative word there? Change. Now remember this: change. is. hard.

Remember when you first decided to quit smoking, or quit sugar, or start eating right, or start getting up early, or start exercising, or quit Facebook?  Was it easy?  My point is that it’s very hard for you to change.  Now apply some multiple of that difficulty to how hard it is to get other people to change…and to pay you to for it!

Of course, I’m talking about your customers.  Getting them to change the way they’ve always done things is hard, especially in old school, non-tech, non-agile, big business, we’ve-always-done-it-that-way industries.  Because…they’ve always done it that way, and they’re still here, so what could be wrong, right?  Seriously, think about that: they’ve always done it this way, and they haven’t died yet, so why should they change? Why would they change?

That’s your (ok, our) job to answer that question in a compelling manner.  Remember Henry Ford’s words: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  His customers did not have the vision, the ability, nor the desire, to see beyond a horse as a primary means of transportation.  Hey, did you ever think – those of you who are old enough anyway – that you’d look at your phone to tell you how to get from point A to point B?  Exactly! Your customers don’t see your solution.  It’s your job to help them see how things will be after they’ve adopted your solution, and how they’ll look back and laugh at how they used to do things.

Now let’s go do that, keeping in mind that change is hard, especially in non-tech, old school industries who have “always done it that way.”  Those are the industries that are the most ripe for tech disruption.

What do you think?