Building a product or a service that is a business-success is a tough challenge. However break a problem down to its tinier components and there dwell wisdom.
This article is not for pleasure reading. This article is not intended to be saved as a bookmark. This article is for action. Action means allocating time for execution. And when that time comes, to make yourself available and motivated and get your hands dirty. If that’s not the plan this article will be of little use to you.
1. Grow an Idea
Very quickly: there are fundamentally 2 ways to grow an idea that can be of business value:
- Create something new.
- Improve an existing thing and make it better.
The resulting product will fall into either of one category:
Type 1: Good to have
Type 2: Need to have
Type 3: Need not have
This will help you gauge the value of your idea. However, validation is best owned by customers and should be left to KPIs. There’s a chance that a customer segment which you never intended to be your target audience starts to buy your product. When that time comes, take the money and reshape your product.
2. Replace the Business Plan with a Strategy Summary
The business plan is time-wasting and merely a hypothesis. Instead focus on key highlights and create a 2-page strategy doc. containing the following:
- Ideal customer: Don’t focus on the target market yet. It’s good to have an idea about what the target market is, however define your ideal client and assess if there’s enough of them for your new business to gain traction and success with them. These are the entities who your customer-outreach must target to get off ground.
- Define the pain-point: What is the problem that your business venture is trying to solve? Is it just a good to have product or service or is it an essential, must have product? What’s the key differentiator vs competition? Who is your competition?
- Monetization: How are you going to acquire customers? What is the revenue model?
- KPIs: Key Performance Indicators will help you see the direction this business idea is heading into. This will also indicate when it’s time for course-correction and (if) when to call it off.
3. Fail Fast
The success rate of business ideas is this: the chances of hitting something big is 1 in 10. This helps you with some basic math:
Time taken to launch and test success x 10 = one successful business
What you really want to do is to fail fast at the 9 unsuccessful ideas so that you hit your first success. The moral of the story: Be psychologically prepared to fail. Set your KPI’s (key performance indicators) straight, measure and know when to cut away. There’s no such thing as “if you persist long enough, you’ll sail through”. The entire premise of this statement is based on the fact that this is a survival strategy, not a winning strategy.
The takeaway: Products never fail… The learning, experience and skill that you gain is irreplaceable and will be one of the instrumental factors for the success of your next idea. All that time you spent creating a software that didn’t find success will help you implement the same functionality when you build something that hits the jackpot.
4. Launch Soon
The only way to weigh the value of a business idea quickly is to cut down on the launch period and put the product in front of the customers. Customer-success is the validator for your idea here. Remember this:
- Perfect is always late: Perfect is the lady who is almost ready but never makes it in time because of make-up. The perfect product becomes old and useless by the time it reaches market.
- Small is perfect: Every small idea that creeps up in your head has that little bit of nugget for success. Discuss, refine, set success goals and execute. People will misunderstand it. People will criticize it. Eventually you own the idea and only you can see the value in it. Groom the idea. Don’t expect people to validate your idea first. Realize it and launch in time to validate it.
At the end of the day the only way to validate is to put that product in front of the customer and help them make an informed decision. If it works, that’s awesome. If it doesn’t, revisit the messaging… may be it’s reaching the wrong audience. But be prudent and quick.
5. Launch Often
And if you want, you can do away with building the product. Just find something that works and create visibility for it.
Let truth be told. Marketing is the way the world works. That awesome product you create in the lone garage will never see success if it doesn’t get visibility.
There’s no dearth of ideas; at least in this age of internet and connectivity. You can find new, innovative ideas or you can improve upon existing ones. The key to hitting success quick and fast is to launch soon, launch often.
6. Make Space for Execution
About 40 percent of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations, studies show.
— Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Up to 90 percent of our everyday behavior is based on habit. Nearly all of what we do each day, every day, is simply habit.
— Jack D. Hodge
As a corollary to this, you must weigh between repetitiveness vs newness. If you are repetitive all the time, where do you end up?
Automate the mundane: Memorizing to-dos and tasks is not the best use of human brain. Set reminders, alarms, calendar appointments and schedules to attend to mundane work. This will free up your brain for more creative and innovative thinking.
Allocate time for execution: If you do not execute on an idea, it will die an idea. That’s what it all really is without execution. Whatever your new agenda is, put it on priority list and set aside hours when you work on its execution. You don’t need to work on it 40 hours a week. But make execution your priority even if it be 4 hours a week. This way you’ll make progress.
Additionally track the time you spend brainstorming vs executing. If you are only brainstorming and there’s nothing to show at the execution level then it’s time for course-correction.
Focus is all about increasing your productivity — concentrating on one thing at a time. Put a list of everything important on your priority list. Retain the first and reschedule or reallocate the time for the rest. Focus is all about organization and dedication. Too many great ideas put together will just create scope-creep in your life. The end result is that none would succeed.
Be practical and realistic. If you are just starting out, the thought of doing it all by yourself would have crossed your mind. And that thought will revisit you whenever you are in a money-crunch. However if you focus on the progress, it’s best to invest in favor of traditional resources before expecting anything. Give something in order to get something. And if you give nothing, you’ll be late or even never make it.
9. Don’t Turn your Passion into a Business
This goes in-face against much of what you’ve heard of the popular belief: “Turn your passion into your job and you’ll enjoy your work”.
The fact is that if you love pizza and start having it every day, pretty soon you’ll be bored of pizza. It will pretty much kill all the fun you have eating pizza. If you love to sing and turn it into a business, the business pressure will kill the passion you have associated with singing. Instead, in order to avoid the wind taken out of the sails, keep them very separate. This will add variety to your routine and replenish and rejuvenate you when you feel down.
10. Embrace your NPAs
NPA is your Net Promoter Score. Do your customers recommend your product? Are there gaps in your customer-delight? Are your customers critiquing you on social-media? That’s your worst nightmare come true.
Build a community of evangelists for your product. These are the people who will build visibility and refine your long term vision for your product. If there’s no one to say good things about your product and recommend it to their folks, you’ve done it wrong and the product will fail.
11. Learn from the mistakes
Making mistakes is good and should be encouraged… as long as those mistakes are new. Repeating mistakes is a sure-sign of inaptitude.
In addition to learning from your mistakes, learn from the mistakes others have made. Because you don’t have the time to make all those mistakes yourself.
Learning from mistakes is the key element of improvement and evolution. Business that do not evolve over time fail to keep up with the market and are not feasible in the long run.
With all that said and little done; do you intend to put this on your calendar and execute?