In my last post I talked about some of the ‘upgrades’ I have begun making to my own personal brand and product concepts.

This is all part of preparing myself for the 30×500 class taught by Amy Hoy.  I found out about Amy, and her online class, via Hacker News.  I started poking around and looking at what others were saying about it.  In a word, wow. I couldn’t find anyone who actually came out and said they were disappointed with the class, but I could find a lot of people who were saying the class was life changing.

So I dug deeper.

After reading Amy’s blog and generally stalking researching her on the Internet, I found her to be an engaging and intelligent person who knew her shit. She has gone through the trenches. She figured out some stuff. She identified the successes and failures inherent in that process.  Then, she shared what she knew.   And here’s the best part: her fee for teaching this class was fairly high and I didn’t care! In all the years I have been charging for my creative services, I always resented when someone questioned why I would charge “so much” even when my work resulted in their ongoing success and growth that wouldn’t have occurred without my direction.

Deciding to take the class, was for me, an easy one. I was ready.

The essence of the class is this:  before you build anything, or waste any money, you have to find your customers. Then you have to heal their pain.  And healing their pain means it’s crucial to understand your customers – specifically, who they are and what they need.

You don’t build something, then go searching for someone to buy it.  I’ve been down that road.  It’s fraught with failure. Yet so many start ups these days do exactly that. Then cry later.

What I am realizing in preparing for the class is this: what I think I know is wrong.

I know that product design and marketing are not mutually exclusive – that’s obvious – but what I am finally learning – through experience – and seeing time and time again in the tech world, as well as the consumer hard goods market, is too many “inventions” without real innovation; without any customer validation.  Products are created and abandoned all the time because entrepreneurs are in love with their ideas and can’t honestly learn what they don’t want to know.  They cling to their unwanted products in the hope that the right niche will simply, on some nice summer day, turn up.

What I hope to learn in 30×500 are the ways I can be brutally honest with myself. I need to break bad habits and get back outside into the field, and find the problems to solve.  Then, fail fast and learn to change my GPS settings when my ideas are wrong.

And do this effectively.