You’ve made up your mind. You’ve decided to create or build a product that will satisfy a market need. But how do you know for sure that you’re headed down the right path? Here are my top three “tried and true” methods to identify and select the right product to succeed in the market.
1. Determine the market need and problem to be solved
Essentially you are building your business case for this venture; you want to clearly articulate all aspects of the market and the specific solution. In this process you are going to ask and answer a lot of questions.
- Why is this a problem? Who is this a problem for?
- What impact does this problem have? How much does it hurt the market?
- Why hasn’t anyone solved this problem before? Is this problem even solvable?
- What would be needed to solve this problem? What benefits would the market realize if this problem were solved?
The answers to these questions will develop the business case that will not only drive your venture but also will provide the fundamental rationale for why you’re going-to-market with the product or platform.
2. Validate your ideas by bouncing them off of others
Choose some mentors and potential customers to help you ensure that your business case is solid. Validate the problem and potential solutions with folks in the industry who can help you better understand the problem from their perspective. Start with a sample of 10-15 people to target for this research. Run your business case by them to test and validate as well as punch as many holes as possible in your business case. The more “hits” the business case can take and recover from, the more resilient it becomes. Later, when it is introduced in the marketplace, it will be much more likely to survive and thrive!
Note the issues that your sample group comes up with. Each of these represents a potential opportunity to expand and improve your product or business case . Sometimes the objections are simply insurmountable, but that’s not a bad thing either! Remember that it’s much easier to make course corrections now than further down the road and also recognize that not all ideas are meant to go to market. Be open to whatever is realized in this process.
3. Tally your results and draw conclusions
Assess the final impact and deduce your blueprint for success. Now that you’ve gotten your sample groups feedback and input, take a look at the case and work through all of the issues that came up. Address the open questions and think about what else might come up as a result. Tweak your business case, if necessary. There will likely be more problems to solve; incorporate those into your solution.
Take stock of what you’ve learned from the sample set and perform a final analysis. Does the solution still have more pros than cons? Is the SWOT analysis still favorably inclined to your solution? If so, then you’ve got the formula for your product, service or platform that addresses the needs of your customers.
If the business case didn’t survive, because of too many outstanding issues, too many flaws, or too many unanswered questions, then rejoice! This means that you won’t be wasting your time building something that the market doesn’t need! Learn from this exercise and create the next iteration of your business case. This is often referred to as a “pivot” in venture circles. It means taking what you know, learning from the market and implementing those lessons into your venture. There have been some very famous pivots in the venture community – Pintrest started life as “Tote” and Twitter actually began as “Odeo”.
ADVICE: If you iterate quickly and successfully through this process of taking market feedback and adapting your venture accordingly, you will greatly increase your odds of success. Play the odds, but tilt them in your favor whenever possible. Remember that the smartest and most successful venture leaders do this analysis continually because markets change quickly and successful companies change right with them.
About this blog The goal of this blog is to share my experiences, to capture and reveal valuable insights, and to draw from my serial entrepreneur-ship through 6 ventures over the past 20 years. I have encountered many impressive entrepreneurs along the way and I hope to share our collective experience with you to help teach and perhaps motivate you to launch your own B2B or B2C enterprise.
Like what you’ve read, or not? Have a question or a topic to suggest? Want to get another perspective on an issue or challenge you’re facing? I welcome your comments, feedback and insights below or feel free to email me here.