Getting Past First Impressions

My last blog on first impressions matter focused on the Gust platform application process that most angel groups use. After loading information on Gust, you will receive a pre-screening call. With some Angel groups there is a presentation involved in the process. I have previously discussed the components of making a good pitch and here. However, in preparing your pre-screening or screening presentation there are a number of important elements upon which to focus.

Entrepreneurs first need to understand each Angel group’s process. For example, how they make decisions and how much money is provided per round is essential. However, of key importance is discovering your chief advocate in the Angel group. Remember that in most Angel groups, this is a competition with only one or two winners.

When making your presentation, always focus on the whole story of your company, from value proposition to target market and product market fit. Investors will also want to know whether there is a large market and a great, pressing need for your business or innovation and if you have evidence of good progress in establishing your business. There are other things Angels will be looking for:

Does your plan provide an exit and a reasonable return on investment?

Do you understand the industry and how your competitors fit in the marketplace? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses? Who are their customers and why do they buy from your competition? Why will customers buy from you instead? Have you delighted your current customers?

How will you use the funds? Do the funds you seek match your plans to scale the business? What will you do if our group is unable to complete the funding round with sufficient cash? Do you have a sound plan for the future? How do you currently make money?

Is there anything that might raise a red flag? Is there any criminal record or bankruptcies on the senior team? Any pending litigation against the company or key players? Are any of the co-founders in a personal relationship? Disclose early and don’t be afraid that these issues are deal killers. They are not necessarily. Disclosing the warts early only strengthen your position as an honest person and leader. Failure to disclose can and would likely be a deal killer.

While you present investors are watching to see whether you have the moxie to be an effective leader and have the ability to execute on your plan. This usually comes up during the question and answer time. Angels want to see how you respond to questions, how articulate you are in your response to posed questions, and how well you understand the ability to scale your business. Another principal concern Angels may have is whether the rest of your team is flexible and adaptable to changing market conditions. It’s your job to demonstrate that by showing their experience, savvy, and ability to engaged under changing conditions.

Tell your story engaging all of your pitch points. Using a customer’s point of view, talk about your company with a script format. Prepare it like the screenplay for a movie. One colleague of mine used the story arc ABDCE:

  • Set the Action
  • Build the Background – this is the setup
  • Develop
  • Climax – Why you are a winner (in the movies, the end of the second act)
  • Execution

Remember, this is showtime! Show energy and enthusiasm.

First Impressions Matter

We are in the process of evaluating the applications for Angel funding for our current round. Like most investor groups we use Gust as the platform for entrepreneurs to load their company information. Overall, I must admit I am disappointed in many of these applications. Many of the applications look strong in terms of idea or concept. Some apparently have traction. Some claim to have traction, but don’t support that claim. However, the real problem is that for more than 90% of these applications, it is the first time I am exposed to you. The application is my first impression. And first impressions matter! Here are a number of items that are problems.

Incomplete applications. Gust is a standard format platform. The executive summary, financials section, team composition are all fairly straightforward. Missing items or incomplete items leave a bad first impression on me. If an entrepreneur does not provide all the information by the deadline, then it requires substantial explanation. Leave a note somewhere on the document telling me when the document will be completed, and why you require the additional time. I understand, we are looking at a moving target, but at some point I need to review a snapshot.

Financials Section. On Gust, the financials section is where the entrepreneur asks for funding and offers a summary of projections. It includes a place to upload documents. Upload your documents. I expect to see a spreadsheet with details of the projections.

  • I don’t want to see a pdf file. With pdf I really can’t see the basis of your numbers. Load an Excel spreadsheet with assumptions and a polished look and flow.
  • One tab of sales projections is not enough. In addition to the assumptions tab, there should be at least tabs for a cover summary, a cash flow projection, hiring guide, balance sheet and revenue models. You need a minimum of five and don’t overwhelm me with 20. I don’t need that level of detail…yet.
  • Hidden tabs that include details I need to review are a minor inconvenience. Why should I work harder on your application? Make your data clear and easily accessible.
  • On the positive side, I have seen a few spreadsheets, that have a nice summary up front, a tab with an assumption table linked into the spreadsheet, a hire/HR table and clear, bottom up projections that go over time until past cash flow positive. The revenue projections are important and should not be overlooked.
  • Spreadsheets are a complete topic for another blog. For now, I will admit that spreadsheets are something of a work of fiction, because they are guesses. But the closer the entrepreneur comes to being correct about these numbers, the higher my confidence level in the venture.

Articulating the Value Proposition. Don’t make me guess what your real value is to customers. If you are not perfectly clear in articulating the product to the target market, then how will I know you will be able to effectively sell the product/service?

Proof Points – Gust does not ask for this, but it is important that you be very specific as to the stage of your venture’s development. This will come out in due diligence. But if you have a finished product or channel partners already lined up, that leads to a much better impression for investors.

Know the Rules of the Game. An understanding of how our Angel group operates will benefit the entrepreneur immensely. For example, if our average investment is $400,000 and you are seeking $900,000 then be certain how you can fill out the rest of the round. I don’t particularly like building piers. I want to build a bridge to the next round. If you have funding that supplements ours, then great. However, know that we prefer to lead rounds unless the terms of the other funding is sufficient. So, be careful uploading the other term sheet – know what we like.

Stage of Development. Don’t hide the point that customers aren’t paying or you don’t have any customers yet. Be honest and forthright and just tell us exactly how you will conquer the world. Make me take a bet on you through truth telling.

Traction. Traction is right. Traction works. Traction clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Traction, in all of its forms …has marked the upward surge of saving the world (thanks to Gordon Gekko for the quote).

Traction is the basis of all that is good in a startup. Traction is the market validation of a value proposition with its target market. Traction shows proof points on its business model. Traction is based in real sales (not a give away product) and has evidence of other proof points – channel partners, a supplier base or existing value chain.

No Faith Based Entrepreneurship. I am really not interested in what you believe. Save that for church. Show me the proof. All that matters are evidence based startups.

Get these right and investors will be your friend.

Disclaimer: These are my own views and not those of any investor group that would have me as a member.

Pitching Dominates

Pitching Dominates In Baseball & Entrepreneurship

Successfully Pitching to Angels

Last year in baseball was called the year of the pitcher—and good pitching dominated the game. The same is true in entrepreneurship. A startup is always pitching—to investors, strategic partners, channel partners, in an elevator, to potential employees, etc. I previously wrote about pitching form and what makes your pitch stick.

Today we discuss content in the pitch and what will impress an investor. First of all, remember that the goal of any pitch is to get to a second meeting. Just say enough to get investors interested in your business. Enough to want more information.

If you are pitching before angel investors then remember three major points. The first is that you must have proof of concept. This is usually a technical point: The technology works, beyond paper theory, and you have developed a minimal viable product, in the form of a prototype. An even better situation is to have customers lined up willing to test and purchase the product, called traction by investors. The second point is to show proof of market: Does your solution show evidence of a large market? The third major point is you must show evidence that positive cash flow is easily possible within a reasonably certain time span.

Be articulate, short and to the point. Use the KIS (Keep it Simple) method, as you never know for certain who in the audience, and who understands the technical points of your solution. Keep the technology talk to minimum. With regard to technology, a good pitcher only needs to show that their technology works and has protectable intellectual property.

There are a number of other points that will score points in the eyes of investors. Does your current team, not those that will join after you are funded, have the horsepower to execute and scale the company? Investors usually bet on the jockey (team) and not the horse (technology).

Here are a couple of recommended slide decks and don’t forget to put in a title and ending slide along with your contact information.

  1. Problem/solution
  2. Market potential
  3. Team
  4. Channels and got to market strategy
  5. Competition
  6. Financial projections
  7. The ask and use of funds
  8. Always have backup slides (these are slides that answers the first few most likely asked questions)

And here is alternative, similar version:

  1. You address an important problem
  2. Your proof that this solution is complete and a magnitude better than others
  3. There is a large market for the solution
  4. The solution is better than others and why
  5. You have demonstrated good progress
  6. The team can execute on the company
  7. The investment provides a reasonable return to investors

What else might impress a potential investor?

  • You know the rules of the game. For example, you understand how the investor operates, the investor’s average investment, you have completed your due diligence on the investor or group, your average valuations to prior investments, and what excites them about an entrepreneur. In other words, you understand their process.
  • A flexible management team, good potential returns and an idea when an exit might occur
  • Good use of the proceeds from the investment
  • Good and frequent communications
  • Delighting early customers
  • You listen and learn well
  • Good qualitative and quantitative milestones
  • You measure progress religiously

What are some of the pitch or deal killers?

  • Lack of clarity and not being articulate
  • Demonstrating lack of leadership qualities
  • Lack of appreciation for the competition
  • A pitch long on history and technology but lacking an execution plan
  • Generic assumptions
  • Underestimating the barriers to entry, or overestimating those for your competitors
  • Weak marketing and/or sales plan
  • Unrealistic financials
  • Unrealistic view of capital requirements

Pitchers rarely hit it out of the park. But that is your challenge, and your goal.

The Short Rules of Entrepreneurship

Today I offer you my personal rules for entrepreneurship. This set is by no means complete, but they are hopefully food for thought.

Rule 1: Entrepreneurship is about action – The Captain’s chair is yours.

Rule 2: Some people dream about doing great things. Keep your eyes wide open and your feet on the ground, and then do great things.

Rule 3: A sports metaphor for Rule 2. There is no crying in baseball. There is no sleeping in entrepreneurship.

Rule 4: Focus on customers and building a business that is client centered rather than focused on technology. Make sure your company solves customer pain or creates great results for your customer.

Rule 5: Entrepreneurship is not fair. Neither is angel or venture capital funding.

Rule 6: Treat your 3F (Friends, Family and others (known as Fools) round as if they are professional investors. All 3F angel investors have an investment committee – their spouse. Respect the relationship.

Rule 7: Angel and venture capital is like a series of locked doors. Someone must unlock the door for you. Find the people with keys.

Rule 8: Build your company by building a customer base. Build for one client at a time. Later, build for multiple clients.

Rule 9: You have exactly one minute to make your pitch. Practice making them.

Rule 10: Learn the language of entrepreneurship and tell the truth. (Do not tell the typical lies: “Our market cap will scale up to $27.1 billion in five years” or “our competition is too big and slow to move as fast as us,” unless you are Elon Musk and build spaceships in your spare time.)

Rule 11: Get a champion who will work with you.

Rule 12: Bootstrap. Frugality is a virtue. Put some skin in the game.

Rule 13: You are only as good as your cash.

Rule 14: So what? Why you? What have you accomplished so far?

Rule 15: Build a team. One person cannot do everything.

Rule 16: Be a good listener and a better filter.

Rule 17: Network!

Rule 18: If you build it they will not come. You must sell to them.

Rule 19: Never BS yourself or your team. Always pause to understand the bias in all decision making.

Rule 20: This rulebook is incomplete.

Do you have additional tips for entrepreneurs? Feel free to add to the list.

Customer Development Interviews

A new book by Cindy Alvarez about customer interviews reminded me that it is often important to review the basics of our tradecraft.

There are a number of important points to consider when reaching out to potential customers. In the Lean Methodology, it is essential to complete customer interviews before building your first minimally viable product. Ongoing interviews with clients also helps you to stay in touch and cement relationships with clients as well.

It is best to interview someone face-to-face. Clearly, that is more time consuming approach, yet more effective than Skype, telephone, or online interviews. A key component of these interviews is the observation of body language. That observation is lost with anything less than face-to-face meeting. Video conversations only capture part of the picture, and the nuances of observation cannot be completely captured.

The second important issue is to help the interviewee get past the politeness factor. No one wants to deliver bad news. Your goal is to make them feel comfortable. There are two ways past the politeness factor. The first is to change the way questions are asked. Asking, “What do you dislike about the product?” makes it difficult to yield honest results. Instead, asking “How would you improve this product?” frames the question as a respectful call for assistance. Everyone wants to help. No one wants to be impolite.

Cindy Alvarez starts just about every interview with four basic questions:

Tell me about how you do __________ today?

Do you use any other tools or have any specific tips or tricks you use to help?

Is there anything specific that you always do before or after you do _______?

If you could have a magic wand and be able to do anything else that you can’t do today, what would it be? (Forget about whether or not it’s possible, just anything.)

These questions are open-ended and allow for understanding customer behavior and activity. It is also crucial that there is not a single mention of your product.

Here are a number of other tips to use during customer interviews:

  • Try to have two people attend
  • Work from an outline of 3 – 5 questions
  • Focus on real behavior not hypothetical
  • Shut up
  • Probe
  • Don’t overstay your welcome
  • Debrief the same day
  • Work to their Schedule
  • Disarm the politeness training
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Don’t influence
  • Ask the Right Questions
  • Frame the Questions Correctly
  • Parrott back
  • Get Psyched to hear things you don’t want to hear
  • Ask for Introductions

The goal of your interviews is to position the interviewee as the expert. A good interview avoids yes/no answers, and gives potential clients an opportunity to tell a story – one that may cause them to think of related problems they’re having, or may trigger more questions for you to ask later.

Remember, your goal is to determine how your customer is currently dealing with specific tasks.  What do they like about their current solution or process? Is there some other approach that they have taken in the past that was better or worse?

Attempt to discover what they wish they could do that currently isn’t possible or practical. How would that make their lives better? Who their organization is directly involved with addressing such approaches? How long does it take to make a decision?

Your interviewees’ feelings and state of mind are also important. How do they feel when they are performing this task?  How busy/hurried/stressed/bored/frustrated? You can learn this by watching their facial expressions and listening to their voice as they answer your questions. What are they doing immediately before and after their current task? How much time or money would they be willing to invest in a solution that made their lives easier?

There is a lot more to being good at customer interviews. Like most anything else, practice is crucial to getting better.

Managing Risk and Managing Decisions

Early in my career I worked in investment banking and international banking. So, later on when I taught finance I reflected on the issue of risk, and the basic elements of financial risk that all business ventures should consider:

  • Understanding the types of risk;
  • The fundamentals of risk; and
  • Managing the risk.

The fundamentals of risk management involve:

  1. Identifying the risks
  2. Measuring the potential impact
  3. Deciding how each risk should be handled.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on business model innovation, I noticed a commentary on marketing. This particular article contained a major section about when to make key decisions and identifying who should make those decisions. It occurred to me that the elements of risk are almost identical to the innovation model. Both focus on reducing risk in a venture.

In a past blog I discussed the garbage can model of decision-making, and focused on being novel in decisions. Today, I am looking at reducing the risk and uncertainty inherent in any startup.

Risk identification is a process that systematically and continuously identifies current and potential risks that might have an adverse affect on a startup. The impact of the risk is affected by both frequency (lots of events) and severity (potential big losses). Most companies don’t worry much about frequent small losses. Office supplies disappearing or the local candy store missing a few small low cost items are two examples of a small loss. However, with severe losses, many organizations take precautions to protect events from occurring. Examples here might include large ticket items missing in the isles of retailers or a few items being chained down so that only department managers can help you try on the expensive goods.

In decision-making, the risk inherent about when key decisions should be made is often due to the lack of sufficient information to reduce the uncertainty. Strategies to deal with this issue may include:

  1. Postponing the decision. Sometimes decisions appear urgent but are not.
  2. Splitting up the decision into a series of real options. Break the decision into small bite size pieces this reducing any significant investment.
  3. Changing the order of decisions. Sometimes a client may ask for customization that may not benefit the strategic direction or value of the organization. In response, the startup can change the sequence to only payment upfront or with proof of performance before investing in the customization.

The CEO may not always initiate all important decision-making. Empowering employees is a very effective way to deal with every day minor decisions. If the decision is too important to delegate, then another way to manage the risk is to consult with a board member or trusted advisor. Even then, always try to find the HIPPO (the industry’s Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). Delegating up or outsourcing may be the best option when dealing with risk issues.

Managing risk and decisions can also be accomplished through insurance, or outsourcing. Startups often hire distributors and/or transportation companies to take on the logistics of moving product not only because it is less expensive but also because these outsource companies have the know-how to manage these specific operational risk.

In startups there are other types of identifiable risk that may include market risk, supplier risk, default risk by clients and others that are usually addressed in the planning process. Managing risk and managing decisions travel in lock step with similar processes. However you manage risk, make sure the process is around a strategic framework and one that allows for continuous monitoring.

Monetize and Create an Annuity

Our clients at the OSU Advantage Accelerator are product oriented. In addition to products created on the internet, some of our clients work in the physical and life sciences. Among other things, they create spectrometers, legged moving robotics, and advanced arc detection systems. Some of our startups include econometrics companies, agricultural companies and software organizations as well. As far as innovation is concerned, we are technology without borders.

The question for all these companies is not just to make a simple sale from the products they create, but to develop annuity streams of future payments arising from these sales. How do we define annuity revenue? It is a predictable stream of income and profits derived from a wide variety of sources.

For example, one of my former clients sold a sophisticated piece of equipment used in forensics labs. While you might think forensics is a limited market, remember that not only local police departments have labs, so do the sheriffs and regional police, State police, Federal labs like the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and many other law enforcement agencies in the United States, as well as within the international community.

Here is how they created annuity from the sales:

  1. Warranty of the product after an initial period, and then renewed annually;
  2. Providing training to staff using the product. The warranty is only effective if staff using the equipment receive proper training.
  3. The training occurs once every three years, as the product is updated, and needs to be renewed.
  4. Updates require an annual purchase.
  5. The equipment needs to be certified and recalibrated every three years.
  6. New versions and updates to the equipment are available at discounts to existing owners.
  7. Updates on the software running the product must be updated.
  8. Other annuity streams include remote monitoring, consulting and customization fees, forums and user groups, enhanced support, a collective knowledge base access, as well as maintenance.

To customers, these were all value-added services. How these reoccurring annuity revenue streams are managed is up to the company and the customer and should be validated and employed based on the customer’s ability and willingness to pay.

Revenue streams create another benefit. They offer an opportunity for more customer contact and product loyalty. Creating a high contact product strengthens the client-customer relationship and leads to a larger referral stream and enhanced sales. What are you doing to add value to product sales and increase customer loyalty?

Lessons Learned

I recently returned from a three day educators workshop on the Business Model Canvas (BMC) and Lean entrepreneurial process. There were a number of important points from the workshop that served as reminders for me, and I thought this should pass them on.

People, money and knowledge are the three ingredients that bridge opportunity and value. I think of these as the triangle of success. Miss one of these items and your startup is destined for failure. A caveat about money: In this success triangle, consider your customers. Customers lead to money, not the other way around.

Story telling is one way entrepreneurs can convey their value proposition. All entrepreneurs should become good storytellers. Everyone remembers a good story, but when was the last time you remembered a great statistic? Entrepreneurs need to understand the nature of a good story arc and bring that arc into all their pitches and conversations. People remember stories – make yours a good one.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) is founded upon evidence-based entrepreneurship. The Business Model Canvas is uses the scientific method to reduce the uncertainty in a startup. Get out of the building and get the facts. Facts are the evidence that will lead to better results.

It is okay to receive affirmation for being wrong. Stay true to the lean process. Fail fast and reduce uncertainty. Either the hypothesis is valid or not. An entrepreneur will do an injustice if they try to justify their results to meet expectations.

In an educational setting or classroom, the focus of BMC tends to be on the product market fit because many individuals going through the program are not ready for the strategic partners, activities and resources sections. This may be true in the classroom, but in our accelerator companies must be ready to launch. All nine components of BMC are important. There two basic section of BMC: The front end deals with product market fit and the back end deals with startup operations and activities. The product market fit must be established and validated before contemplating the operations and activities of BMC. Based on my participation in this workshop, I can see how a two section approach to teaching the BMC could be valuable.

There were other lessons learned as well and will be incorporated into our next cohort. A few improvements will be adding videos for client portfolios, an increased focus on understanding customer archetypes and graduating our clients with an eleven item portfolio.


Words for thought. I’m taking a brief respite from serious writing to offer you some of my favorite lines about entrepreneurial thinking.

The true economic stimulus exists in the entrepreneurial spirit.

Customers buy success, entrepreneurs sell benefits.

There is a fine line between perseverance and obstinance. Entrepreneurs need to know when to adapt and change direction.

Tom Hanks once said there is no crying in baseball. Entrepreneurs know that there is no sleeping in startups.

The faster you drive a car that you don’t know how to drive, the more likely you are to crash.

Killing time murders opportunity.

Spreadsheet: a matrix showing how many days of the month you have to eat PB&J sandwiches

Spreadsheet (2) – what startups do before they bed down in their office

Messaround Round: Venture capital obtained by a company that really doesn’t need the money but wants it just to “make sure” of things (& then they promptly spend it on ill-advised items).

Dude Diligence: Investigating the one-owner, one-person business (or dudette diligence, in the feminine).

Small Business Disvelopment Corporation = a very poorly managed SBDC.

Non-intellectual Property (NP) = an invention that’s, let’s face it, not very good.

Entremanure: A client whose business plan stinks

Benchmarks: Sweat left at the gym while avoiding facing issues in your business.

Innervation: Tremors and sweating associated with starting a new company

Fornivator: Someone who screws up your program, as in, “The county commissioners really fornivated us in the new budget.”

An entrepreneur is one that leaves a 9-to-5 job with a steady paycheck, vacation and sick time with limited responsibilities in order to become an owner of a business, working 24 hours a day 7 days a week with uncertain income, no vacation and placing their life savings and family time at risk, all in the name of personal freedom.

A mentor is a person whose hindsight becomes your foresight.

Entrepreneurship is rarely a do it yourself sport.

There is no finish line in entrepreneurship.

Remember that you are unique, just like everyone else.

Learning happens when you have the courage to invalidate your hypothesis.

If you have the data then let’s look at the data. If all we have is opinions, then let’s go with mine.

Instincts are experiments. Data is proof.

Markets that don’t exist don’t care how smart you are.

Finally, wrapping up with a quote from Theodor Geisel,  AKA Dr. Seuss:

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Hypothesis Testing For Entrepreneurs

Hypothesis testing appears to be a simple task. Just write down a question, devise a methodology to test it, elicit a response and analyze the results. Some entrepreneurial experts suggest that these tests must be pass or fail. In other words, either the hypothesis is true or it is not. In my experience pass/fail questions created without consideration of other factors is not effective.

For example, Team A reports: “Well, we thought we would get a 50% hit rate, but only got as high as 38%. That is good enough. We pass the test.” Did Team A pass the test?

The first two rules of entrepreneurship are (1) to be honest with yourself and (2) learn from your mistakes. Team A just violated both rules. First, they justified their projected hit rate and were not honest with themselves about what that really meant to their company. Secondly, they didn’t learn from the exercise. They never found out WHY they only had a 38% hit rate, rather than their predicted 50%. This is a terrible, missed opportunity. Why did they originally believe that they could get 50%, and why didn’t that occur? What needs to be changed? Can it be changed? Is it the test or the product? There are too many important questions in this scenario that will never be answered.

One interesting model for creating a more quantifiable hypothesis testing is the HOPE model. This model looks at four factors:

Hypothesis: What is your theory? Is it both “falsifiable” and quantifiable?

Objective: Are your tests objective rather than subjective?

Prediction: What do you think you will find?

Execution: How are you going to test?

The most important element of creating a hypothesis is that it must be “falsifiable.” That means your guess can be rejected after an initial experiment of the hypothesis. If your plan is to see what happens, then your hypothesis will always be true.

Second, all hypotheses should be quantifiable. In other words, you must be able to predict, account, and analyze your results. A good hypothesis includes both a question and good methodology to uncover the results. After determining the question and developing your methodology, you should then run a test to analyze the information obtained.

Additionally, your tests must have a good source of data, as well as represent your demographic population as accurately as possible. Your results should be objective rather than subjective.

Conducting good tests is a subject unto itself, and requires a more lengthy discussion than this blog entry addresses. I will save that for another day.

In my work with both scientists and entrepreneurs, the predictive element is often missing in hypothesis testing. This is even true of scientists and economists who use hypothesis testing on a regular basis. Included within a good hypothesis test must be a predictive indicator of the results. A predictive indicator might include how fast an event might occur and whether there are any stress points in the experiment and where the stress might be located. I believe that failure to quantify your results may mean that the hypothesis is not completely tested, and the result is incomplete. However, if you place a value or a number in the hypothesis, you can learn more about how close you came to hitting the mark.

Without quantifying hypotheses there is a tendency to justify the data to fit the results. In analyzing the results, teams need to be careful to differentiate between causation and correlation. For example, more ice cream is sold in the summer. More people drown in the summer. Therefore, they must be related. Of course, they are not.

Scientists and statisticians also discuss null hypothesis—a hypothesis that is assumed to be true, (e.g. in a courtroom, the defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty) as opposed to alternative hypothesis—a statement that contradicts the null hypothesis (e.g., the courts would rather the guilty go free than send innocents to jail). What I am advocating in statistical terms is a criterion of judgment based on probability in quantifiable statements. For example, in the courtroom jurors would be asked to determine “beyond a reasonable doubt” whether the defendant is guilty.

So, in your hypothesis testing, will your test confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that your hypothesis is true? If you tested correctly, then you know the honest answer and just reduced the uncertainty of moving forward with your enterprise.