Almost every entrepreneur has been through the process of creating a product that failed to live up to its potential. At the idea stage it looked like a winner. The creation stage confirmed its brilliance. The delivery stage was filled with anticipation. But then nothing happened.
We never really know how good an idea is until we see how customers respond to it. At that point, we’ve already invested the time. When a product flops, it can negatively affect our excitement about future products.
Though we can’t guarantee a product will be well-received, we can be calculated early in the process. There are some things we can do to create products our customers will love. Let’s take a closer look.
Refocus. Too many entrepreneurs ask, “What product can I create?” That’s the wrong question to ask at the beginning of the process. I know people will buy courses that teach how to use Photoshop. However, my Photoshop skills are marginal, at best. So, I shouldn’t offer a course on Photoshop. Rather than looking for the product to deliver, I need a clear understanding of the abilities I bring to the table. My best products will be directly connected to my strengths. The same is true about you. Take several sticky notes and write one of your strengths on each note. Then arrange the notes in order from greatest strength down. We will work with the strength you identified as your greatest going forward.
Reacquaint. A product connects you and your customers. If you love the product but your customers don’t, it will never get off the ground. If customers ask for it, but you aren’t excited about it, you’ll deliver a less than stellar product. You need to reacquaint yourself with your audience and its needs. Ryan Levesque wrote an awesome book entitled, Ask. In the book, he describes a process you can use to solicit your audience’s input before you create a product.
The better you understand what you have to offer and what your audience needs, the better you’ll be able to offer solutions that are in demand before you ever begin working on them. What do you know about your audience? What are three things you think they need? Write your answers on sticky notes and arrange them in order.
Reconnect. People are looking for solutions to their everyday problems. They aren’t impressed with lofty concepts; they want practical steps they can follow. This is where it gets fun. Take a look at your greatest strength and the greatest need of your audience. If I were completing this exercise, I would list teaching as my greatest strength and evergreen products as my audience’s greatest need. Now fill in the blanks: How can I use my ability to [greatest strength] to help my audience [greatest need]? My response would be: How can I use my ability to teach to help my audience create evergreen products?
Release. Now you have some questions you can use to guide your thinking about your first product. Reflect on your greatest strength and list some methods you can use to deploy your strength. As a teacher I might create a course, write an ebook, look for speaking engagements, and so forth. I would then choose the method with which I am most comfortable keeping in mind the fact that you can repurpose content in a variety of delivery methods.
Your first product doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, you will look back one day and be horrified by it. That’s normal. You’ll get better and you will refine your processes as you go. That’s part of the entrepreneurial journey.