Why Entrepreneurs Should Innovate From The Customer-Out in B2B


We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent. – Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO

With my previous startup, HireVoice, we started with what we thought was a business problem. The problem we had identified as Human Resources outsiders was monitoring employer brand reputation. We just didn’t know whose problem that was.

Early on, we had to identify industries and stakeholders that could have this problem to validate their needs and the fit with our solution. Ultimately, this process proved to be backwards.

Starting from a problem made us try to match our problem — our view of the world — with target markets. Six months in the business, we realized that, although employer brand monitoring was a problem, it was not a major pain.

The day we decided to solve HR recruiters’ problems is the day we instantly became more relevant. It was easier to work from their problems than to come up with pains we thought they had.

Typical Challenge…

Typical Challenge - Solution

One solution, many problems.

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In my book, Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want, I recommend that entrepreneurs focus on the people and the market before creating any hypotheses around the problem or the solution.

By starting with people, entrepreneurs are much less likely to invent a problem and start with false assumptions than if they start with a solution or a problem.

Save yourself 6 months… Get out of the building and meet with your target market. B2B is people-first.


⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. The book covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »


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