It sounds to me as if start-ups believe they can already command the market before they’ve even established and founded their business organization. They seem compelled to fit their building of a new enterprise around what they believe the market looks like, as opposed to taking the temperature of the market and coming back with some facts and statistics about the market. However, not many people know which facts to collect and what those facts mean to them and their start-up. Crazy but true. Oh well, there is nothing like learning from trial and error, sometimes those are the hardest won and most rewarding lessons of all. Sometimes. Then there are those other times. For those other times, read Steve Blank’s “9 Deadliest Start-up Sins”.

Steve Blank

Inc. magazine is publishing a 12-part series of excerpts from The Startup Owner’s Manual, the new step-by-step “how to” guide for startups. The excerpts, which appeared first at, highlight the Customer Development process, best practices, tips and instructions contained in our book.  Feedback from my readers suggested you’d appreciate seeing the series posted here, as well.


Whether your venture is a new pizza parlor or the hottest new software product, beware: These nine flawed assumptions are toxic.

1. Assuming you know what the customer wants

First and deadliest of all is a founder’s unwavering belief that he or she understands who the customers will be, what they need, and how to sell it to them. Any dispassionate observer would recognize that on Day One, a start-up has no customers, and unless the founder is a true domain expert, he or she can only guess about the customer, problem…

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