The ONLY Thing That Matters About Your Business Idea

I have failed at so many business ideas.

Some of those failures were minor, but others were major disasters (I’ll tell you the story of a $30,000+ loss some other time).

After every single failure, I learned a new lesson.

And after a few of those lessons, I started to see some patterns.

I’ve also read so many books and articles about entrepreneurship and why certain business ideas become multi-million dollar success stories, while others just flop.

What I found out is that there is a common thread that separates the good ideas from the bad ones.

If you’re starting out with a new product or service, then there is really only one thing that matters about your business idea (and it’s not rocket science)

I’ll get to that in a second, but first, let’s talk about what doesn’t matter.


What Doesn’t Matter About Your Business Idea (and Why)

  • It doesn’t matter if your idea has a patent (if the idea is bad, no one cares, if it’s good, it’s going to get copied anyway)
  • It doesn’t matter if your idea is funded by Venture Capitalists (9 out of 10 VC-funded ideas fail)
  • It doesn’t matter if your idea is the first of its kind in the market (that could be a bad thing)
  • It doesn’t matter if your idea has a lot of competition in the market (that’s sometimes a good thing)
  • It doesn’t matter if you have the right network of connections (“Who you know” is overrated)
  • It doesn’t matter if your idea gets a lot of media attention (that doesn’t last long)
  • It doesn’t matter if your friends and family think your idea is phenomenal (they lie to make you feel good)


So What Does Matter?

Here’s the only thing that matters:


If you really focus on your customer, then everything else will figure itself out.

End of story.

Whether you’re an author, a consultant, a product developer, or a blogger, ask yourself this one simple question: Do my customers really want this?

If your answer is a 100% yes, and you figure out a way to apply the 15-word get rich rule of giving your customers more in use value than what they give you in cash value, then you’re good to go.


17 Seconds from “Gladiator” that Makes This Stick

For some weird reason, I always remember a scene from the movie “Gladiator” that keeps me focused on the customer. In the scene, Maximus (played by Russell Crowe) is the enslaved gladiator, and Proximo (played by Oliver Reed) gives him a crucial lesson about how to win his freedom before his big fight.

Watch the 17-second scene by clicking play below

I wasn’t the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd, and you’ll win your freedom

The crowd is your customer.

Win the customer, and you’ll win your freedom 😉



  1. I couldn’t agree more. Me and my co-founder Emad Ibrahim recently attended Start-up NEXT by Steve Blank, and their whole course is generally about talking to your customers. It seems so obvious, but its something that most startups don’t do. The course really drills that in to you and the customer interviews are the basis of the business canvas model. This post brought it home. Also love the gladiator reference. One of my favorite movies.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Maged! I’ve heard some good things about Steve Blank’s NEXT Startup course – good to know that you and Emad have attended it. Goodluck to you both.

  2. Hey Hassan,

    Great post!
    It IS always great to talk to our customer. It could be even better to LISTEN to our customer:

    We all LOVE it when we are LISTENED to with EMPATHY (I can FEEL your pain in my heart) and given SINCERE HELP with OUR problem. It equals KNOWABILITY, LIKEABILITY and TRUSTABILITY including CUSTOMER BUY-IN and CUSTOMER APPRECIATION. L2xE+SH=(K,L,T(CBI+CA))

    It’s more about the relationship building (love) rather than the kill. (solution)


  3. Hi Hassan!

    I have to be honest: when I first read this post, right after you published it, I didn’t think much of it. Basically, I thought: “Focusing on the customer… sure, that’s obvious”.

    But I guess your post resounded with me somehow, because I’ve found myself thinking about it increasingly over the past 2 weeks. Actually, it’s been on my mind quite a lot. Thinking about some current and future entrepreneurial projects of mine, I started asking myself: “Am I really doing this for my customers, or for myself?”. Then I realized that some of my projects fall in the former category, some in the latter and some in both.

    It’s actually quite difficult to make this realization, because we want to work on what we love. But sometimes what we love is not what the customer wants. It can be tempting to work desperately hard on something we believe or care about, but ultimately it’s much more satisfying and rewarding to build something that both you and your customer can relate to. And for an entrepreneur, it can be a matter of survival.

    So basically, I’ve come to redefine some of my priorities for next year, and your post definitely played a role in that. For this, I would like to thank you!

    I wish you Happy Holidays and a great New Year 2013!


    • Hassan Osman says:

      Hey Olivier!

      Thanks so much for your comment – I’m really glad the post resonated with you and that it played a role in helping out with your entrepreneurial priorities (it’s comments such as yours that make me proud to blog – so thank you for the kind feedback).

      I always have to remind myself of focusing on the customer as well because it really is so easy for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their own ideas (so I’ve struggled with this quite a bit).

      All the best of luck to you during 2013 and Happy Holidays to you as well!