“How big is your potential market?” is an interesting question.
But it’s not very helpful to software startup founders.
Here’s what’s actually useful:
“What’s the fastest way to get 100 or 1000 extremely happy customers who pay you and recommend you to their friends?”
The question about big markets is about big investors who have to get big returns.
That’s their problem, not yours.
Your problem is to hurry up and create something that is amazing for someone specific.
If you solve that, there are almost always thousands or millions of potential customers behind them.
Here’s what the VC-Industrial Complex noise machine isn’t telling you:
1) You can’t be amazing to everyone. Start in the corners.
2) Specialist Eat Generalists. But only always.
3) If you don’t get 100 happy customers soon, you will never get 1 million customers someday.
4) Happy customers pay you now, so you need less or no outside investment.
5) TAM (Total Available Market) will grow exponentially if your innovation is amazing enough. It will create its own trend.
Think of Amazon when they started in the corners with an amazing new experience for book buyers when the Internet was just starting in 1995.
- Started in the corners with laser focus
- Was 10x better for a small group of innovative buyers
- Grew their market and accelerated nascent trends
- Their awareness grew through word of mouth, not paid ads
- They expanded fast and made their product more amazing
- Big funding helped them grow faster, not expand wider (at first)
This is how things start small and get big.
But only always.