8 Things to Consider Before Developing Your Next Product: Part 1

8 Things to Consider Before Developing Your Next Product: Part 1

Developing a new product can be a nerve-racking experience. Even for those who have done it before, the lead up to launch can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a plane’s open door, hoping that your parachute has been properly packed and functions just as it should when you jump.  

The toughest part of any new project is dealing with all of the unknowns, but also knowing when to reel in the seemingly limitless possibilities to find the best result. 

I can guarantee you’ll find yourself at a crossroads of questions at some point in your project, maybe shocked and disoriented or perhaps even looking for the nearest escape exit. But the most important thing to remember is that this is an important part of the journey. Embrace it. Uncertainty challenges you to find understanding, and understanding is what underpins all great design. Facing the challenges and reaching for a deeper understanding of people’s problems, passions and hopes opens the door to creating real value. 

So before you start packing your parachute, here are a few important things to consider before developing your next product. 

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1. People 

People can make or break your project. 

Simon Sinek once pointed out "Investors often say that they invest in people first, then the market and lastly, the idea." He suggests that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. 

Always consider deeply who you will be partnering or collaborating with. The same holds true for investors. Surround yourself with people with the right expertise, who offer a network of support but also aren’t afraid to challenge and ask the tough questions.

2. Know your market 

You’ve got a great idea, but will people want to buy it?

"Before you build a better mousetrap, it helps to know if there are any mice out there" - Mort Zuckerman.

It can be very easy to get caught up in emotions when you’re invested in your own idea. But never assume your product will fly off the shelves without doing your research. Commit to knowing your market early on in your project.  

Begin by understanding your customers. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What do they value? Do they need what you’re offering and can they afford it? Can you show that they will be willing to part with their money and buy it? Keep an open mind and be aware of your own biases when conducting your research.

 "if I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse” – Henry Ford.

Finally, be aware of your competition. Decide whether you can viably compete before stepping into the ring.


3. Know your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

When you're developing a new product, it’s only a matter of time before someone asks you “what’s your MVP?” To avoid any painful setbacks down the track, gather the information and know your answer early. 

Created by Frank Robinson and popularised by Steve Blank and Eric Ries, “A Minimum Viable Product is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk”.  

In other words, MVP is the minimum amount of features, development and design required to prove functionality, gain investment and display a vision of the product. It might not have all the kinks worked out but the improvements can come in version two. 

Knowing your MVP is a crucial part of the product development process because it helps establish your core value proposition - what you can and cannot do without, it reduces costly engineering hours and helps manage risk by allowing you to test your product quickly. 

"innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It's about saying NO to all but the most crucial features" – Steve Jobs.

4. Time to market, have a plan

It’s not always about being first, but you still need to have a plan. 

‘Time to market’ is the time it takes to develop your idea from concept to commercialisation. Generally speaking, the quicker you can get your product to your market, the less risk you’ll attract. 

Having a clear outline of your budget, available resources and an understanding of your strategy can help you decide what a realistic timeline might be. Will you be a market follower, leader, challenger or attempt to build a niche?  Perhaps it will be a mix of a few. In any case, be sure to have a timeline with check points along the way that incorporates your MVP. 
 
Continue reading: Part Two: 8 Things to Consider Before Developing Your Next Product

Resources
Why Most People Invest in Ideas Not People
Know Your Target Market

Erin Evanochko