One of the most common mistakes many entrepreneurs make when starting out with a new business, or when launching a new product or service, is that they get caught up in the false belief that ‘more’ is always better.
As much as you’d like to make a splash with your arrival, and even though taking the industry by storm does sound like a very attractive prospect, it would be an utter misjudgment to conclude that doing so many things at once is the best way to get the market’s attention.
Sure, you want to get off to a flying start, you want to hit the ground running at the first time of asking – everybody wants that, much like every soccer player wants a hat-trick on a debut. Now, no one is saying that you can’t become an instant hit in the ecosystem but reality and experience suggest that this is more unlikely than it is likely. And that’s why it’s best advised to not throw caution to the wind.
So if you’re thinking ‘more’ is always better when starting out anything, you may not be exactly mistaken but while you’re still a student of that school of thought, perhaps it might help to also appreciate its full ramifications.
Here’s what you need to know; as you set out to launch a new product, or attempt to reintroduce new products or services, ‘more’ implies additional risk. It also has a bearing on unnecessary complexity, while also having connections with additional marketing time.
Basically, all these imply additional capital commitments and you should be wary of that. A good rule of thumb for every businessperson is to be twice as careful and concerned every time it looks like your budget is going up. With that in mind, here are some important points to take to heart as you gear up to introduce your product to the market in the coming year.
Concentrate On The Simplest Thing
Focus on one thing, the simplest thing. If you’re looking to launch a new product or service, you’ll achieve better results if you channel all your energy and focus into that singular detail. Don’t spread yourself thin in the name of extending your tentacles – you’re not an octopus!
And this should be easy – one of the simplest things – something known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in business circles. If you want to know your customers’ needs with very little expenditure in the way of money, time, and effort, then the MVP is your guy.
The MVP does a good job of helping you reach the market quickly and gathering valuable information from customers. This helps you save money and time that would have been otherwise spent on products which customers are not exactly interested in. A strategy of this nature is proven to significantly cut down on risk and help one steer clear of potential pitfalls.
Don’t Chase Every Lead – Some Are Dead Ends
You must be on the lookout for something I’d like to call “feature clog” every step of the way as you work on your MVP. And that’s because virtually everyone on the project who share the vision will probably have an opinion on what should be added.
The truth is that many of these ideas will actually sound like a plan initially, but in the long run, the bulk of them will ultimately prove shiny objects will derail you at best.
You owe it to yourself to keep your eyes on the prize even though one else is losing their heads. You have got one job and one job only: develop a simple product, put it out there, then start talking improvements.
By dealing with a single detail at a time, you can reach the market quickly, get to grips with how ‘actual’ customers feel about your product or service, and adjust accordingly. That’s a much better bet when compared to listening to every ‘great idea’ from yourself or team members about how customers ‘might’ feel about a feature. Why speculate when you can get out there quickly and accumulate first-hand info?
And if things don’t go quite as planned, you can rest knowing that you significantly mitigated the risk – something that won’t be the case if you spent so much money and time chasing every idea from all and sundry which flopped in the end.
If What You’ve Got Is Good, Then It’s Good Enough
If you’re a stickler for perfection, then you might just be the enemy of your own product launch. If you’re awaiting the perfect conditions, that project will probably never get off the ground or perhaps it will do so at the wrong time.
Here’s an important point to note; if your business or product is 85 percent there, then you are ready to set sail. Chances are that the level of effort that would be required to reach the century mark will not be worth the extra expense and time commitments at that stage.
Rather than waiting to achieve perfection with the product or service – which may never come or probably do so at a crippling expense – it is advisable to make an entry into the market with something good enough and commence testing.
Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself
It’s never a good move to try to do it all at once because you just might end up tripping over yourself. In the ultra-competitive business climate of today’s world, you don’t want to become that entrepreneur that received so much and yet served up very little.
Okay, let’s see; you’ve bootstrapped your way to launching your startup and things seem fairly good. And things get even better when you land significant external investment at a time when your startup was least expected to. Then, you dare to begin to dream. And there’s nothing really wrong with dreaming, except that your dreams are becoming really tall ones.
So, now armed with substantial external financial backing, everyone expects you to reach the next level but you misjudge the next level as the very top of the ladder instead of the next rung.
Having initially built your startup around a single product for a target clientele and enjoyed reasonable success, you decide to become a ‘one-stop shop’ for everything. And that’s cool, except that becoming a Jack of all trades inadvertently makes one a master of none very often.
So, in trying to offer many different products at once, you erode your finances and it is not long before they take a hit and you find that you are running out of cash faster than you are raking in. Well, you do become the ‘one-stop shop,’ but the question is; who’s buying what?
As the funds dry up, you return to the drawing board to identify and plug the leaks. Then it dawns on you that 95 percent of your customers are using only 5 percent of your products, and perhaps that 5 percent represents the products for which you built your startup around initially.
And there lies your problem – you’ve spent too much money developing products not very many people use or have a need for. Essentially, you have wasted 95 percent of the time and money invested – a lesson learned the hardest possible way.
The business was built on a simple concept when you started out. It was solving one problem for one target customer-base. But when the funds began to roll in, you got carried away with ‘amazing ideas’ and ‘shiny objects.’ You were not selling that much but you kept building, and that was never going to end well.
This illustration does reflect how trying to become a big deal a little too soon can become a bit too much and drag you under. And I do hope the point’s been driven home.
Use Feedback To Your Advantage
It would be wrong to assume that your work is done once you’ve successfully developed your product and touched down on the market. As a matter of fact, there’s even more important work to be done.
Post product launch, the onus is on you to listen and learn from your users and best practices dictate that you create feedback loops through which you can learn everything you possibly can.
You need to be on top of such details as users’ likes and dislikes, suggested features that should be added to enhance the experience, as well as features that should be jettisoned. You need to do your homework to get this vital information.
It is also important to keep in touch with the users of your product. And you can do this via a number of ways ranging from offering incentives for feedback via surveys or focus groups to social media platforms. There is even the option of generating outbound calls.
However, most often, it is found that it is not really about getting feedback. It’s about working with the feedback, it’s about what to do with it. It is not uncommon to find many business owners being anything but receptive to customer suggestions.
Given that a lot of time and effort have been committed to developing the product, one can be forgiven for not wanting to get any form of negative feedback. And more often than not, entrepreneurs tend to pass those off as customers that just don’t get it.
But be conscious of feedback – it is the closest thing to a compass that you have as a sailor in this ship called ‘entrepreneurship’. It gives direction. So give attention to the response from clients and learn to iterate or tweak accordingly.
You may even need to completely abandon some aspects of the project that you may have put so much into – and it’s such a hard thing to do – but the knowledge that you are working to improve your product should provide some comfort.
Feature Image Courtesy: blog.producthunt.com