A persistent question founders ask themselves and probably the most difficult to answer. Here are the 3 questions I ask myself when trying to answer this question and what to do about it.
Is it growing fast?
Growing fast is the best indicator you might be onto something. How fast is fast is different depending on stage but our general guideline is 5% to 7% weekly growth. That's 12.6x to 33x annually. If you're just starting, it should be much faster.
Am I learning about my users?
You should be learning new things about your users every week. It should feel like every week you're getting a slightly higher resolution picture of who they are, what their problem is and what they care about.
Do I have lots of ideas for what to do next?
In the beginning, you have lots of ideas. As you work on them, you use up those ideas. When I'm onto something, I find I generate new ideas faster than I'm using them up. It's like being idea profitable.
If you are growing fast, learning about your users and idea profitable, you should obviously keep working on your startup. The reality is that's rarely the case so I thought it'd be interesting to look at the different permutations and what you should do (see graphic).
The way to think about this holistically is to remember that user learnings produce ideas and ideas generate growth. If you don't have growth, you need ideas. If you don't have ideas, you need to user learnings. If you don't have user learnings, talk to your users.
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