And the first key, critical moment, of Pre-Success, that no one will appreciate but you — is when you get 10 Unaffiliated, Paying Customers. I don’t mean friends of your investors, or your old co-workers or boss. I don’t even mean folks you hustled at some conference or meeting (well done, there, though. But that’s prospecting, which is something else.).
No, I mean 10 customers that Just Came in Through the Ether. A raw, unaffiliated, lead, that somehow found you on their own, kicked the tires, and now — is actually paying you. Every month.
Because here’s the thing. 10 customers may not seem like much. We called these guys “Beer Money” in the early days at EchoSign. 10 customers was $200 a month. Didn’t really pay the bills on 4 engineers and 3 other guys.
It took us more than a few months to get them. They were not just 10 but 300. We got them because we gave the product away for unlimited use and watched them use it. Once we were convinced that they were using it regularly and heavily, we started asking them to pay. And they did.
Getting unaffiliated customers (without prospecting) is not easy. But it is one of the best validations that your product can do something useful for someone.