Get out of the building. The art of being a great entrepreneur is finding the right balance between vision and reality. Every new business idea is built upon a stack of assumptions. It is better to challenge your risky assumptions right at the start. You challenge anything by getting out of the building. Talk directly to your customers and partners, and observe their behavior. Run experiments in which you put people through an experience and track what happens. Customer discovery is not asking people to design your product for you. It is not about abdicating your vision. It is not about pitching. Your job in customer discover is to learn. You are a detective. You are looking for clues that help confirm or deny your assumptions. Look for patterns that will help you make better decisions. Be brave, get out of the building, and go talk to real human beings. If you want to be successful bringing something to market, you need to understand the market. Do you feel like you know when and why people <insert action> today?. Founders commonly obsess about product at the expense of the understanding the customer or the business model. List out the riskiest hypothesis. Walk a day in your customers shoes. Observe people in the process of doing what your product does. Talk directly to them. Your job is to learn. Getting the customer to speculate is rarely useful. You need to understand the market. How does your customer buy? When do they buy? Why do they buy? Where do they buy?. If you are polite and creative, people will be more receptive to you than you might think. By walking in your customer's shoes you will gain empathy and personal understanding, but you don't want to rely solely on your own experience. By watching people, you can witness honest behavior, but you won't be able to get into their heads to know their motivations. By talking to people, you gather intel on both behavior and motivation, but you have to be careful not to take what you hear too literally. Ask your friends if they will refer you to their friends. It's best to talk to people who aren't too close to you. You don't want a someone's affection for you to steer what they have to say. It always makes sense to prioritize what you want to learn. Hello, I am a software engineer at Google researching note taking. I'm asking people about the last time they wrote something down. Would you mind if I asked a few questions? When was the last time you wrote something down? Why did you need to write it down? How did you decide where to write it? Why did you decide that medium? After you wrote it down, how did you feel about where you chose to write it? Are you willing to try a new medium anytime soon?. Seek out an advisor for first time entrepreneurs. Read reviews for competitors to figure out what they value in the product. It's easy to say something is cool. It's another thing to actually buy. Calculate metrics from your observations to prevent you from letting innate biases override your actual results. Don't take any of your statistics too literally and don't let any single number dominate your strategic thinking. Assumptions Exercise. Try driving traffic through Google or Facebook ads, and run some A/B tests around ad copy, landing-page messaging and price points. Study your metrics. Then follow up with your customers and interview them on their buying process and decision. You are in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. Run experiments and keep in mind that your mission is to learn before you scale. Don't stop talking directly to customers. Your questions will likely evolve, but no matter what stage you are in, you'll usually find that your best insights will come from talking to real people and observing real behavior. Customer discovery is about gaining much deeper insight into your customer, or your partners, or your market. Being told your idea is cool is not useful; seeing behavior that validates your customer's willingness to buy is very useful. Prepare an interview guide before you get out of the building. To ask the right questions, you need to understand your risks and assumptions. Get creative when trying to recruit people—if at first you don't succeed, try something new. Sometimes observation is as powerful as interviews. Take good notes, especially on your key risks, so that you can calculate metrics later. Even better, set your target goals ahead of time. Bring learning back and analyze your patterns as a team. Never stop asking hard questions about your business. Questions to start from:. Who do you want to learn from?. What do you want to learn?. How will you get to them?. How can you ensure an effective session?. How do you make sense of what you learn?. Market category recommendations. The typical customer you envision if you get traction with your idea. Your early adopter, i.e. the people who will take a chance on your product before anyone else. Critical partners for distribution, fulfillment, or other parts of your business. If you cannot get early adopters, you cannot move on to the mainstream. Early adopters are usually folks who feel a pain point acutely, or love to try new products and services. Go into every customer interview with a prepared list of questions. Choose questions based on the most important, and most risky assumptions to gather those insights most urgently. Get stories, not speculation. Be careful with speculation. Humans are spectacularly bad at predicting their future behavior. Ask open-ended questions. Your goal is to talk little and get the other people sharing openly. Try to ask questions that start with words like who, what, why, and how. Avoid questions that start with is, are, would, and do you.