Asking for Help

Posted by Nathaniel on Jan 19th, 2010

A big part of the Customer Development process laid out in The Four Steps to the Epiphany is doing interviews with real people outside the building, but the question is always, “Where do I find those people?” Typically you know a few, but where should you go from there? While there are various places to look, some of the best leads come from asking your initial set of interviewees for their recommendations. This yields not only possibilities, but pre-qualified possibilities that come with a referral – a potent combination for being able to set up actual interviews.

But how you ask for referrals makes a big difference, and Kevin has an awesome post on his blog – The Magic Word in Customer Development Emails – that supplements the advice from Four Steps really nicely. As per the title, I thought his hard-won experience with using the right words to elicit a response was golden.

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What Makes a Good Estimate?

Posted by Nathaniel on Jan 13th, 2010

We recently got some really high praise from a client:

Thank you for everything you have done so far. Our reception has been very strong from our customer base and we seem to be off to a great start. […] We have a pretty good idea that our next feature will be around X. Right now, I need to know how much money this feature may cost in order to get a better idea of time frames and what we need to do with respect to current customer load and additional funding. […] The original estimate of N hours was almost spot on, and so was most everything else, so an estimate/guesstimate is fine. I’m sure this will generate more questions.

(Emphasis mine)

While the kudos are awesome, what really stuck out to me was the client’s perception that our estimate was spot on. I totally understand that perception: from a happy client’s perspective, a good estimate is in the result, not the process. But if an outside observer were to judge our estimation process for the project by conventional standards, they’d probably conclude that the estimate we put together was pathetic. “What?” you say? Let me explain…

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