Entrepreneurial Malpractice

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A few weeks ago I went to the doctor. My throat had been bothering me for a while and I figured it was time to get it checked out.

It turns out that I had strep throat, and after 10 days of antibiotics I was fine.

Now, before the doctor gave me the antibiotics, he asked me a bunch of questions and took at look at my throat. And he gave me a strep throat test to confirm his diagnosis.

And the doctor’s experience along with his diagnosis allowed him to solve the problem.

Let’s consider a scenario though where the doctor was too busy to diagnose my condition. Perhaps I walked into his office and he didn’t let me say a word. Maybe he looked me up and down and said, “I know what the problem is. It’s this, and so I’m going to give you a prescription for this.” Now, if this happened, chances are that he wouldn’t have properly diagnosed my condition, he wouldn’t have prescribed the right solution, and I wouldn’t have gotten better.

And in the medical profession, this clearly would be serious. Because in the medical profession, the formula D < C = M holds true. Specifically, the formula is Diagnosis before Consultation equals Malpractice. And if my doctor tried to diagnose my problem and give me a prescription before doing a consultation, he could have landed in pretty hot water. In fact, he could have gone to jail.

So what’s my point here? Because I think we all know that doctors shouldn’t offer a diagnosis before doing a consultation.

Well, the point is that too many entrepreneurs commit this error. They diagnose the needs of their market without doing a thorough consultation. Many times, their consultation is simply on their OWN needs. Perhaps, they think, “what I would really like is an Italian restaurant in my town.” And they think that just because they want it, that everyone else wants it. This is a common flaw in both marketing and entrepreneurship.

Rather, the entrepreneur destined for success is one who spends time consulting with their target customers. First they identify a need. But then, they really assess it. They speak to prospective customers. And figure out their true needs. What are they doing or buying currently to solve the need? What do they like about the current solution? What do they dislike? And so on.

Importantly, note that asking your friends what they think about your idea also tends to lead to faulty results. First, your friends probably think very similarly to you, and may not represent a good sample of the general population who will consider buying your product or service. And, oftentimes friends will say they like something just to make you feel good, rather than really scrutinizing the idea.

So, don’t commit entrepreneurial malpractice. Do your homework. Really research the needs of your customers and/or prospective customers. And only launch products and services that truly solve these needs.


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