Don’t Fall For the Mirage of Local Startup Success

Selling Into Your Own Network Always Results in False Positives

Joe Procopio

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

My daughter is starting her own company this week, and I’ve taken a role as her investor. While she’s not quite at the high-growth stage of her entrepreneurial career, she’s launching something more than a lemonade stand or some other kind of friends-and-neighbors business.

In fact, friends and neighbors are something we’re going to avoid completely. Why? Because I want her to learn to succeed, and if you’re selling your new product to people you already know, you’re setting your business up for death by a million false positives.

Your Startup Should Think Globally and Act Globally

Don’t confuse a startup with a local business.

Like those bumper stickers you see on the vehicles of people who want to signal their higher purpose in life, the goal of any local business is to think globally and act locally. Local is the lifeblood of brick-and-mortar shops, restaurants and bars, services like home repair, and other SMB ventures.

The advice of selling your new startup’s product into your own network — that’s an artifact from a less-connected time. And as the internet enabled our network’s reach beyond our physical location, that advice evolved with it .—

“Sell into your LinkedIn, your Facebook, the associations you belong to, the clubs you’ve joined, your church! Maximize those existing connections.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate this strategy in a vacuum. There is a lot of experimentation and learning that can come from testing your pitch with close contacts. Just keep in mind that what those results mean in terms of your eventual success are always going to be skewed — because those people want you to succeed.

And it’s not that the rest of the world doesn’t want you to succeed. It’s that they don’t care about your business until you make them care.

Ergo, if you’re selling to people who already care about your success, you’re not getting any sense of what’s going to make your target customer buy your product.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com