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Product Development: From Winning Idea to Startup (Step 3)

This is the third ‘Startup Techniques’ blog posting on creating and moving your own Winning Startup Idea into the real world as a fledgling Startup. 

The first posting “Product Development: Creating A Winning Idea For YOUR Startup (Step 1)” included techniques to create your own winning startup idea, and the second “Product Development: Qualifying YOUR Winning Idea For your Startup (Step 2)“ gave some tips on how to qualify the idea to make sure it’s really the one that you should be investing your heart, soul, blood, sweat…well, no need to labor the point, I’m sure you get the idea…

So what do I do next when moving a Winning Startup idea forward?

If the idea has really grabbed me, my temptation is usually to start figuring out all of the pieces that are needed to move it from idea to a real business.  This mean thinking about the people I’ll need to find, figuring out how to test the idea, how much money it’s going to need and the 101 other moving parts.  It starts to expand like one of those towel tablets you would put in the bath as a kid.

It’s at about this time when you need to figure out a few things before you really start getting carried away.

Like what? Well – Normally at the top of my list is how do I fit in with this idea? Sure, I had the initial idea but is that justification enough for driving it forward? Every day, you need to ask yourself, “Am I the best person to drive this business forward?”

What’s important is giving the idea ‘life’ – so always try to keep that at the forefront of your mind and try…(and its tough) to put ego in the back somewhere…

Products and Services tend to have a different approach – For a product let’s consider just a few of the different steps in the process from idea to real, actual product:

  • Developing product drawings (Engineering Skills)
  • Developing a prototype (Engineering skills)
  • Prototype testing (Engineering etc)
  • Determining how to produce it in larger quantities (Engineering)
  • Testing the Market (Marketing)
  • Determining Price Point considering the margins required by the different sales channel (Marketing & sales)
  • Sanity checking the numbers (Production costs vs. price point to sales channel) (Finance)
  • Understanding and selling the product into the sales channel (Sales)
  • Marketing the product to retailers and the end consumer (Marketing)
  • Managing the invoicing, customer service, tracking cash (Finance etc)

These are just a few incredibly broad steps on the road to making a product idea real – It’s by no means all inclusive.  The point here is that there are multiple component parts necessary to build a business whether it’s a product, service or website.  When you are sure this idea is the one, begin to map out what the idea needs and to overlay that with your own strengths and capabilities.  This will act as a pointer for you ~ it should help make obvious who you will need to find to join the team either actually or virtually.

One of the common mistakes with most first, second and third times entrepreneurs is not knowing what you shouldn’t be doing – the temptation is often to try to do it all yourself – either to cut costs or because you are so passionate about getting it done, that you take a shot at whatever the task might be, instead of looking for the expert. Your job, oh founder, is to go FIND! Find the people who know what they’re doing in each area (Marketing / Sales / Engineering etc) and if you trust that you have the right people – trust them to do their job properly once you’ve mapped out the objectives / targets.

Thankfully whether your winning startup idea is a product, service or website there are some relatively fixed ‘categories’ that need to be considered whatever the business – product or service.

Here are some of the key categories and a few thought jogging questions, there are many more:

The Customer:

  • What are their needs?
  • What are they prepared to pay for? How Much?
  • How do they buy products like this? A store / website / telephone / television? 

Competition:

  • Where do customers currently buy or go to use products like this?
  • What products or services do they offer?
  • How much do they charge?
  • How do they sell and market their products?
  • How many competitors are there?

The Product:

  • What does it need to do?
  • How will it be much better than what the competition offer?
  • Who can prototype and build it?
  • How much does it cost to produce?
  • What is necessary to produce it?
  • Who will produce it?

Sales:

  • Where will you sell this product?
  • Who will sell it for you?
  • How will you pay them? Salary or commission or both? Yes, there are sales people who will work for just commission (Blog Post to come)

Marketing:

  • How does it meet the customer need?
  • How is it better than what the competition offers?
  • How much can we reasonably charge?
  • Are we looking for volume of customers or a select group of customers?
  • What do customers need to know that will make them want to buy it?
  • What are the ways to tell potential customers about the product?
  • How much do they cost?
  • Are there any ways of telling potential customers about the products cheaply?

Some of these questions may not work for your idea but most should.  As you go through them more questions should pop up. And don’t worry if you don’t know all of the answers, you won’t. Fact.

But you will probably be able to make some really good educated guesses in the areas that relate to your personal strengths and won’t have a clue in those areas that are too far out of your own skills and experiences ~ another good pointer towards the types of people you will need to go find to flesh out the idea and really start the tactical planning of “How to Launch Your Winning Startup Idea” and turn it from an idea into an actually, living, breathing Startup. But again, that is the subject of another blog posting.

I hope this posting helps. Again, questions, comments, relevant rude remarks always welcome and ‘Yes’ this posting could have included much more, in fact, it could have gone on for at least another 50,000 words but like most entrepreneurs I have a tendency towards A.D.D. and another 50K words would take a good six weeks or so to write.

Let me know where I should dive deeper and I’ll do my best! Honest!

How did you like this post? Any comments?

Andrew