I’m considering raising funds to grow the ClearGears team, so along with my first U.S. employee, Steven, we’ve started meeting with angel and venture capital investors. The process is awesome: we get to meet experienced, connected, and passionate people who unabashedly share insight as to how to make our business thrive, and, if there’s mutual interest, ClearGears will get the resources it needs to grow.

The challenge is to make sense of all that insight.

One investor knowingly advises us to build an enterprise sales team to sell to Fortune 500 companies. The next day, another another investor insists that we focus on a self-serve SMB (small and medium business) market. Both are smart, experienced, and confident, but who is right? Should I change my model? And if my vision for the future contradicts theirs, should I feel dumb?levitra

I suggest two solutions to deal with contradictory opinions from powerful people. First, as an entrepreneur, have your own well-reasoned vision, and articulate it clearly, forcefully, and passionately enough to inspire confidence. Practice communicating this vision until you can convince skeptics. At some point, your vision becomes as important as your elevator pitch.

Second, even if you’re persuasive, you’re probably wrong, so treat every vision (or prognostication) as a testable hypothesis. You think you can sell to Fortune 500 clients? What steps are you taking to prove it? Have a vision, but hear other opinions and figure out how to test which is right.

  • http://robertsaric.com Robert Saric

    Arshad thanks for your post!

    I agree with your point that every vision should be treated as a testable hypothesis. I would also extend your point and say that startups should have a big honest vision.

    It doesn’t change the need for going through all the small (and often painful) steps of who you should target but it certainly inspires confidence w/ funders when you have a strong sense of conviction.

    Good post by Ben Yoskovitz: http://www.instigatorblog.com/anchor-your-startup-in-honest-vision/2011/01/04/

  • Arshad

    Thanks, Rob. Thanks for the link, and great blog!

    Testing a hypothesis is harder in practice than it sounds! For example, everyone says they’ll A/B test messages, but few actually do it. And second, there’s a momentum behind marketing messages and feature development that can make it hard to change course. Nonetheless, I think this difficulty is what separates effective entrepreneurs from ineffective ones.