I had an interesting discussion with a technology startup owner last week that I feel can be useful for others as it is not a unique issue and there are elements of these challenges with every idea big or small. You may recognize the symptoms:
What’s occurred here is we have a product that hasn’t been thought through from the concept to development to launch and out to end of life. We have a product that is following a strategy of if I build it they will come. Solving a pain point only means you’ve identified a problem that may have customers since you’ve found value in the product. What hasn’t been thought through are things like pricing or how to drive eye-balls to the solution nor have we considered what an effective promotional campaign could look like to maintain interest through its inevitable lifecycle. For this post, we’ll cover the early concept definition phase of the product development as it is one that passionate entrepreneurs tend to breeze through as they are more excited about delivering than planning.
As mentioned above, a lot of entrepreneurial ideas start out as something that will solve a problem for an army of one…you. What we need to consider now is whether there is really value here for anyone else, how much those customers would potentially pay for this product/solution and whether you have the ability to get out to these customers with the world changing solution. All of these roll together to form important aspects of the value proposition for your customers. Said differently, the value proposition is something that boils down all the elements of your solution into a customer facing pain relieving “product” in which customers would be willing to part with their hard earned money to solve.
“The most important output from the concept phase of your product definition is the Value Proposition”
Many start-ups and small businesses fall down in this early stage by simply not spending enough time up front truly understanding what value they are going to provide to their customers and whether the tradeoff they are asking for in return will be worth the investment by you in developing it for the market. As entrepreneurs, it is hard to slow down and step back out of the weeds to truly see if the market will accept this wonderful solution. Spending twice as much time in this phase than you think you need too is a great use of your resources. As tough as it may be to slow down and think a little bit more before jumping into developing the world changing idea it’s an important use of your time.
We’ll cover the Development, Launch and End of Life phases in future posts.