Challenges in finding ideal users

Start-up is a stage in the process of turning a business idea into an established real company and a ‘start-up’ is a company that is confused about – what its product is? Who its customers are? How to make money?

We start with assumptions about everything, to begin with. 

The more early you start to get a sense of theories against reality, the safer you are.

With an incredible fit between you and your early adopters, they play a crucial role in speeding up this process of clarity before your resources are exhausted.

Early adopters optimize your efforts. And yet, in practice, we see many founders do not seek early adopters.  And many of those who attempt to seek them find it challenging too.    

Here are 6 commonly seen challenges in finding early adopters. 

Challenge # 1 – Better mousetrap fallacy

Even founders who believe in lean startup methods tend to fall into it. The “better mousetrap fallacy” is the mistaken belief that a superior product will automatically generate customers. It is easy for start-up founders to get blinded by their new product as they are working hard to build.

And, it is this fallacy that some founders tend to not give much attention to working on getting early adopters.

What is the problem with this?

  • What if the market does not need your product, no matter how good it is?
  • What if your better product is not valued over the existing product, how would you know?

What works?

  • You have to get in touch with your early adopters, find out what they really want and need and then give it to them.
  • Building a product is relatively the easy part, now you have to find someone to buy your product.

Challenge # 2 – trying to scale early

Premature scaling is “spending money beyond the essentials on growing the business before nailing the product/market fit.”  Or, spending resources on mass marketing much before you know what solution might work for sure.

Why does this happen?

  • We like the very idea of a million users. The absolute numbers when you work on individual users seem so small at first.
  • We don’t like engaging with users individually because it’s hard and demoralizing to be rejected.
  • We are shy and feel lazy to recruit users individually,

Instead, what will work?

  • All successful startups started from a countable number of users or early adopters and grew through repeatedly doing things that don’t scale.
  • When you’re starting out, you should use all the channels that the big guys can’t use because they are focused on scale.

Challenge # 3 – mistaken identity

Some users sign up for a variety of reasons (other than the consideration of their pain point), though they may not be having an urgency to solve the problem that you are trying to solve. And, for the reasons that they signed up early, you mistake them for being early adopters.

What is the problem with this?

  • If the users who signed up are not desperate to find solutions, there is less likelihood of an active usage of your product or them buying it.
  • And until users start using your product actively, you will not get any feedback about its usefulness.
  • You remain in denial about your product’s lameness

What works?

  • In early-stage startup building, you need active users or early adopters who will give you feedback on your product.
  • Since they are anxious to see if your product works for them, they will be active in using it.
  • Only when you get feedback from early users on what works for them and what doesn’t, you can potentially build a product that a lot of people would buy.

Challenge # 4 – at loss with them

We don’t know where to find them and we don’t know how to reach out to them.

We don’t know how to get them on board.

We don’t know how to engage with them.

We don’t know how to de-code what they tell us.

What works?

  • It is not a rocket science that you cannot learn.  And this course will equip you to be confident in dealing with early adopters.
  • The key to doing it right is to treat each individual user as a human and not as something that adds to numbers.
  • Connect with each user individually.

Challenge # 5 -pitching urge

In pitching, since you are doing most of the talk, it is likely that customers pretend to go along with what you are saying.

In the learning frame, you set the context but let the customer do most of the talking.

In an early product building phase, learning is more critical than pitching when you meet your early adopters.

We need to get some facts to qualify our hypotheses (guesses) about what kind of product customers will buy before we start selling them our idea or product.

But many times, we give a miss to this.


  • We come under pressure from targets.
  • It is very hard to resist the temptation to pitch or sell our product or idea and in the process, we tend to forget “learning” as the core objective of customer discovery.
  • We tend to not care to learn about prospects, it’s just so much easy to focus on product and technology instead.

What works?

  • With customer discovery, the initial goal is not pitching but learning.
  • Make course adjustments before you build a large product.

Challenge # 6 – avoiding unsexy stuff

There is hard work involved in locating prospects to be approached for customer discovery and at times it is hard to reach out to them and convince them to spare time for us.

The whole process is time-consuming. It would take the focus away from product development, design and sales.

And, this prompts us to do things that could possibly not require us to do such hard work and make us do boring stuff.

What is the problem with this?

If you don’t do what is needed to reach your early adopters, you will never be able to reach them.

What works?

  • Life is too short to build something that no one wants.
  • Save time and money by discovering early on if something won’t work.
  • Discovering early adopters is the key to discovering if you are doing good.

Summing up

There is a double benefit of seeking them. First, you acquire active users, and second, you define your product.

On the other side, inaction is doubly dangerous. First, you fail to grow, and second, you remain in denial about your product’s lameness.

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