Listening

July 5, 2010

Way back in 1989 I built a software package called RunningCounts. It was an immediate hit and, to this day, remains my favorite product. My decision to build it was driven by my own need for a way to track my running (racing and training) statistics. I also spent countless hours talking with running friends about their needs. It was a needed product and a natural for me. Back then, my running career could be summed up this way; I finished behind the elite runners and ahead of the pack. Tracking everything (I thought) would give me an edge. No matter, I knew running and I knew runners.

Shortly after the commercial release of RunningCounts (also marketed by another company under the name RunningBest) I started work on GolfTrack. I had the world by the tail. A funny thing happened. Failure. I couldn’t even get golfers to help me with the Beta testing. I threw everything, including the kitchen sink into GolfTrack but I failed to ask the market if they actually wanted it. I guess they didn’t.

Business may be about building stuff and selling stuff, but somewhere in the mix is listening. I’ve made this mistake again, again (hey, I’m an entrepreneur – we mostly like to build stuff) and each time I remind myself to listen to the market. If I forget, I now have marketing-minded staff that stop me in my tracks.