StartUp Founders: The Golden Handshake

June 30, 2024 4 mins read
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Dear Reader,

The foundation of user-centricity is, shockingly, being user centric.

How users arrive, onboard, and engage is not a customer success bolt-on or an afterthought, it’s a foundational pillar of how you build. Every. Single. Thing. (𝕏)

The first 8 minutes of user life is the golden handshake. Your first impression sets expectations and determines whether a prospect converts. How you build is how you sell. This is your engineering mantra. (𝕏)

TL;DR Realize you’re not building a product, you’re engineering an experience, and user-centricity is the foundation of your entire development process. (Workbook)


3.6 Non-Technical FoundersBuilding It Wrong.


Google found that users form an opinion in just 0.05 seconds. AWS reports that a poor experience turns away 88% of users. The Baymard Institute found better checkout design can increase conversions by 35.26%. Salesforce found 62% of users expect you to anticipate their needs. But of course, none of this applies to you?

Most founders are so caught up in their own solution that they forget the objective. The first goal isn’t to solve the problem; it’s to acquire a user, get them in the app, deliver a brilliant experience, and then solve the problem. Conversion is a multi-step process from the second they meet you.

The golden handshake happens in the first 8 minutes, 8 clicks, 8 steps, users are experiencing your pricing, brand, support, design – making a decision on how your product makes them feel. B2B, B2B2C or B2C, the principle is the same.

Customers let a lot slide. They know your MVP barely works, but user-centricity is the lifeline that compensates for all your short comings.

Product, Engineering, Design, Sales, Marketing, all of it. It’s all one conversation, one experience, one chance to win as a team.

Founders who think you can tape on support, chatbot, guided onboarding after the fact, believing it goes against the mantra of build fast and break things, are misinformed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to exist.

Users owe you nothing. Not their time, not their patience. Until they get value, then they owe you an equitable fee.

As you’re building, whether it’s your MVP or next feature just explore obsessing over every element of friction you can remove and every ounce of delight you can add. Then do it again. And again.

Either you believe this and breathe it, or you’re don’t. There’s no middle ground.

The Golden Handshake : The 8 Minutes Framework

SU003.7 The Golden Handshake (aka The First 8 Minutes) by James Sinclair

Some Principles:

Friction: Every extra click, every moment of confusion, every second of load time is a potential lost user. Engineer it out of existence or engineer it into an experience (the map showing where your Uber is)

Delight: The “Oh F*ck” Conversion Metric. How many times a user thinks “Oh f*ck, that’s good/clever” in those first 8 minutes? Engineer delight into every interaction.

Anticipation: Don’t wait for users to ask. Anticipate their needs, their questions, their hesitations. Engineer the answers into your product before they have a friction point.

Data: If you’re not measuring every aspect of user interaction, you have no idea about anything. Engineer data collection as a core part of your delivery.

Iteration: The golden handshake gets better every release, as you learn, engineer for continuous improvement.

The Golden Handshake isn’t just about the first 8 minutes – it’s setting the standard for the entire relationship. Demonstrate that you understand their needs, respect their time, and are committed to their success.

Is it time to revisit your first 8 minutes?

Off topic. I’m thinking of converting all these modules into a cohesive live course, from idea origination to first customers, literally pebble by pebble. Would this be helpful?

As always, if I can be of service, feel free to grab time with me.

— James

(LinkedIn | Tiktok | Twitter)

StartUp Founders: We Built It Wrong Next: StartUp Founders: Founder-Led Sales
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