First Actions

First Actions
Photo by Boston Public Library / Unsplash

It's easy to talk the talk, but here's what happened when I tried to walk the walk.

According to The Startup Owner’s Manual, the first step after coming up with some hypotheses is to test them. The first hypotheses to test are the Problem Hypotheses. The first step to testing a hypothesis to schedule a chat with someone who could be experiencing this problem.

The reason I chose the family law field is because my wife is a lawyer who does family law. I know from her that lawyers in this field are overworked and there's still more work to be done. I want to help her and other lawyers, and be able to build a business to help do so as a full time job.

I ran an initial interview on my wife but the results, I expect anyway, are quite biased. She did refer me to a mutual friend who might be able to be an unbiased source. So I just needed to schedule a chat with her. It would be an obvious easy win, right?

First Inactions

Well, next came the social anxiety.

I read up on how to “hack” the anxiety. Anxiety is a fire alarm—a call to action. To do what though? Is it perhaps because I don’t know what I’m doing? This is most likely. So I read up more and sought out more examples of problem discovery. They are few and far between.

It turns out I have very low self-worth. With the help of my therapist, we focused on my belief that to ask people for some of their time, even if it’s just to let them rant at me, even if my intention is to try to help them, is still just me being a burden to them. Either they say "no", because I’m worthless, or they say “yes” because I’ve guilted them into it.

So I did a lot of learning around worthiness and vulnerability. Reading about ways to tackle the shame when it does show up, so the sting of social rejection isn’t as painful. I try to truly believe that I am worthy of that time I’m asking for.

Early in November, I made a deadline. I decided to aim for scheduling the first interview by December 1st. Somewhere in between, I managed to spend three days crafting a brilliantly worded message with the simplest of asks.

Hey [friend's first name],

It’s been too long since we’ve hung out.

It's a huge ask, I know, but I'd love your expert insight on some of the things that hinder lawyers practicing family law in New Brunswick. Would you happen to have time to grab lunch? Perhaps later this week or next week or next?

I felt confident. For the first time since I decided to do customer interviews and problem discovery, I actually felt confident. I managed to send the message without impending dread.

Of course, that confidence wasn’t warranted. The next day I got a response. I don’t know how to take the response other than to assume it means “I don’t want to talk to you.”

I’m shattered. The only request I thought would be truly "easy" was exceptionally difficult to make and the only “sure thing” was not sure at all. This is super demoralizing.

This left me quite distressed, and considering my options. So, where do I go from here? Do I switch targets and try to find a different lawyer to interview? Or do I just give up on family law lawyers and pick an easier niche? A lot of friends have said that I should keep trying.

I think I will.

So this week, I made a list of all the lawyers I can find, ranked them by how likely they fit in the target market, how likely they are to say yes, and now I'm trying to figure out a better message to send to get them to chat. Perhaps I can make my intentions clear with a gift.