Aspirin or Vitamin...which is your business?
Vitamins are a great supplement to your diet. They help you have more energy and a stronger body. They are good to have but if you don't take them you'll be OK. Aspirin is taken to stop the pain. If you have a headache you are ripping up your medicine cabinet to find the aspirin. So what is your business...Aspirin or Vitamin?
An aspirin business is one that solves a the customer's pain. It is a must have not a nice to have. In my last post on the business planning process I discussed the need to do market research. Finding your customers' pain point and targeting it is the reason behind market research. It is the difference between "Ready, Fire, Aim" and Ready, Aim, Fire". Good market research will allow you to better identify your market and what customers really want from a product like yours. By spending some time on research activities you have a better chance of getting your product right the first time and avoiding costly stops and restarts. It will help identify early adopters that might beta test your product and helps you make a better case to investors when seeking capital.
In one of my favorite business books, A Good Hard Kick in The Ass, they lay out a process for assessing the market:
- Explore the Pain: Construct a Hypotheses about the market. Create a specific case as to who needs your product the most and what the market looks like. Gather data relating to the market by interviewing potential customers. Find out who has the most pain and what these companies have in common. Most initial hypothesis are wrong, that is the point of doing the research...find out in research where you need to make an adjustment not after you have launched.
- Envision the Solution: More face-to-face interviews but this time with those that indicated the most pain and can help you better narrow in on the specific need for your product. In this phase take the data from the earlier interviews and construct a "first-pass presentation" to show how you envision your solution solving the pain in the market. At this point, in addition to the presentation, having an early prototype would better help illustrate your solution.
- Establish Credibility: Now you are about 90 percent done. Here you will go to "influencers" that can help you build credibility in the market and start to create buzz around your product. By this time you will have a fine-tuned company presentation and a vetted solution prototype. Get people excited and ready for your launch.
By going though this process you build what the customers want, not what you think they want. You will identify the real pain in the market and be ready to attack it. This may take some time and effort but it will be worth it when revenue and investment starts to flow into your business.