Oct 132010
 
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This is a great one for all startup ventures to consider.  I think I first heard this from one of my first mentors, Ian MacMillan.  Since so many entrepreneurs tend to plan “in a vacuum”, somewhat detached from reality, Mac likes to say, “show me your first five paying customers.”  Not just who they could be – show me the first five actual customers.  This may be difficult to pull off in the case of some ventures, particularly those that are introducing new, proprietary products.  It is, however, a worthwhile objective and one to keep in mind as you are planning your venture.  Could you point to your first five paying customers?  If not, why not?  Push yourself and your team hard on this one.  If you can’t get the first five horses in the barn, what makes you think you can get the many more that will be required to build your venture?  There is no better early validation of the potential for your startup than customers willing to pay you for what you’re offering..

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