How to go from 0 to 1 - Growing users for a new product or service

As a repeat founder I get the question from entrepreneurs and others: "how do you get your first users?"

For me, this is actually the easiest stage. I think of acquiring and growing a group of users differently based on the scale of the existing user base. There is a great book that talks about going 0 to 1 (\_to\_One). What I mean here is how to go from 0 users to 1 user.

In this case the first user is ... You.

Use your product before you launch.

You are the first user. Use your product before you launch. Every day. Selling meal kits? Well you eat every day don't you? There are very few startups where you can't be trying the product prior to launch on a daily or weekly basis.

The absolute best would be to go through the full onboarding process as a new user. Sometimes that is impractical. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. Daily is better than weekly, weekly is better than monthly. Set yourself a recurring meeting for an hour weekly.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Right after college I worked for an online bank. I insisted that I be an account holder. And I used the account. This didn’t immediately make me exactly like the other users of the site, but it gave me a grasp of the feel of the product.

When I was a cofounder of a citizen engagement service, I didn't use the platform daily and I think it showed. I wasn't immersed in the experience of being a user. I was external, guessing what users might want.

Now at Cyclic I try to push code everyday. The best days are when I build a new starter example and try to deploy for the first time. If you 

I try to push code everyday

Using my own products, I find I'm annoyed by the incomplete features. Small ux issues can really grate on me. I think this is the point.

Repeat after me: "I am the first user. I am user number 1"

I am the first user. I am user number 1