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Are you ready to begin product development?

Posted by : Lisa Clark

The question you’re likely asking yourself is, “How do I know that I’m making the right decision?”

When it comes time to actually start putting money and serious time into your start-up prototype, it’s only natural to be nervous. This is your first true self-declaration of commitment, and your stomach is in a knot. You’re riddled with anxiety but hopeful for positive results. The question you’re likely asking yourself is, “How do I know that I’m making the right decision?”

Even in the best cases, it will take months, but more likely years, for your investment in product development to pay off financially. But I find that a careful analysis of where you are right now can alert you to warning signs that indicate you aren’t quite ready to fully commit yet. I like to ask and answer the following questions before going all in on my product concept:

Customers

  • Have you had conversations with the very first people who are likely to be interested in your product?
  • Do you know what products they use today instead of your offering?
  • Have they agreed to give you feedback on the prototype you will present them?

Potential

  • Do you know how big your potential market is?
  • Do you know where you can capture money with your product?
  • Do you know if any larger companies have similar offerings to yours in their pipeline?
  • Do you know of anything you must have access to for your idea to work that could be blocked?

Protection

  • Would you need to patent or trademark your product and can this be achieved?

Adoption

  • Would your product require consumer education and re-training?
  • Have you looked into product offerings similar to yours?
  • Do you know what that company’s marketing budget was for that product?
  • Have you researched why people have not created your idea yet?
  • Are there possible reasons why people would not like or be resistant to your idea?

Growth

  • Would you need capital from outside investors to fund your idea?
  • Do you know if the product you are developing is an area that investment money is flowing to?

If you can’t confidently answer all of the above questions, you probably need to do more research before committing to product development. One of the biggest reasons a start-up fails is a poorly investigated business plan. In many cases, a person has a great idea, but hasn’t figured out how they will market it to their target audience. In other instances, there is not enough distinction between already available products. Whatever the particulars, more research was needed before wading in.

Once start-ups have spent a significant amount on developing their product, it’s often too late to pivot or start over when unexpected obstacles are encountered. Founders are forced to plow ahead with what they now realize is a misguided product launch.

When beginning product development, both understanding what your idea’s value is, and recognizing how your potential customers will view that value, are integral to it’s success. You want to be sure you are building the right product, for the right market, at the right time before seriously investing in product development.

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