By Bill Warner, EntreDot Executive Director and Executive Mentor
A WINNING BUSINESS HAPPENS WITH A WINNING PRODUCT OR SERVICE
Well, DUH!! That’s pretty profound, but obvious isn’t it.
To have a winner, your business has to have a product or service that is fulfilling a well-understood need. It’s a simple concept, but it’s quite hard to actually figure out.
That’s a mouthful, but every single aspect of a winner has to be in place in order to succeed in today’s business world.
You need to be right from the very start!
It All Starts with a Winning Premise
The product or service has to directly fulfill an important and well understood need. That could take the form of solving an important customer problem, grasping an opportunity that nobody else sees or providing for a compelling social cause.
Business problems are easily identified and quantified with such metrics as revenue attainment, cost and expense overruns, customer lead generation shortfalls, sales cycle time, sales closure rates, manufacturing efficiency, support and warranty cost exposures, leadership and management effectiveness, and many others.
Personal problems fall into such things as health and wellness issues, time management problems, money management challenges, and dealing with social issues.
But, seeing a new opportunity is a very special thing. This takes extraordinary vision and insight while exploring the art of the possible. Who would have thought that the telephone could be a personal communications platform for useful applications, or a watch could monitor our health? Ideas that transform current ways of doing things are emerging every day. You too can now be a taxi driver. We all can talk to Alexa, Siri or OK Google and get answers and play music. We can get travel directions and assistance, in the moment, with our phones. We can find our luggage with our Tile. We all can be publishers, as the vast array of new ideas flood the market.
Serving today’s social causes can now become a reality by virtue of the broad reach we have to interested stakeholders on the internet. Crowdfunding offers new ways to find donors. Services delivery becomes more efficient and effective through the outreach to volunteers and other givers.
What Makes a Problem Important?
Your product and/or service needs to solve a compelling problem that can be financially quantified. The problem has to be one of the highest priorities the customer is dealing with. In other words, they need to solve it now. Customers are very selective and careful about what they buy. Only the most important problems will get their attention, and all the rest will wait or never be solved. Lots of scrutiny will be placed on the purchase decision. In order to hit the target, you need to understand the customer’s problems almost as well as they do. If you don’t, you will lose to those who do!
What Makes an Opportunity Attractive?
This is a tough one. Since new opportunities are born out of extraordinary insight and innovation, only those who can relate and empathize with it will readily appreciate it. The challenge is to paint a picture in the minds of future customers of how their lives will change for the better once the new opportunity is realized. Not everyone is going to be an Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. But every entrepreneur that hopes to change the world in some way has to find the words that relate to the people they want to serve. In other words, make it real for the future buyer.
What Makes Your Solution Compelling?
When you are solving a problem, you certainly have to quantifiably demonstrate how your solution solves it. Deal with all the key aspects of the problem and demonstrably explain how each aspect is solved, from the customers viewpoint. They must see the value to them, and in their terms. That is a must.
When providing a new invention, the solution needs to bring new and real possibilities to the lives of customers. It has to be within their grasp of understanding and usefulness and be reasonably affordable within their lifestyle.
Establish Your Premise First
Establishing the premise of your business may be the hardest task you will undertake. That’s hard to believe, but it is. Once you have done it, you will be able to explain your business to anyone in a matter of a few sentences. You will also have the basis for talking with potential customers. Better yet, all the decisions you will then make concerning the plan for your business will be based on your premise. Decision-making will be easier and well-focused. So, figure out the premise for your business before you go too far with product/service development.
About the Author
Bill Warner is co-founder and Executive Director of EntreDot, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs start new businesses. He is also a Fund Executive of the Inception Micro Angel Fund (IMAF-RTP), an angel investor organization and Managing Director of Paladin and Associates, a business consulting firm.
To learn more about EntreDot and what we do, click here.