As discussed in Part 1, having a great product, insight, or vision is a fine starting point for building a great business. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly enough. We continue analyzing what else you will need if you’re not going to end up begging your former employer to take you back.
So you’ve got your starting point: a better mousetrap, an insight on unmet customer needs. Outstanding! Next, figure out the business plan. What’s the real value here – not what you think, but what potential customers think? How much will they pay? How many will pay it? What will it cost to make and market? What support infrastructure will you need?
While you’re at it, you had better start crafting the message. What will you communicate? A list of the product features that excite you might not excite many people, but a dramatic statement of the benefits derived from using the product just might. In other words, talking about “a German-made road vehicle with latest technology” might not move many units, but “the ultimate driving machine” will.
And all of that still is not enough.
Because you need to review that plan in the context of customers and competitors and figure out whether you have what it takes to win. Do you have meaningful advantage and will it be sustainable after others study what you’ve done? After all, if a competitor with better distribution or lower costs or deeper pockets can copy your innovation quickly, you lose.
And even if you’ve got your strategy nailed, it still is not enough.
You need to ask yourself, based everything you have learned, whether you have the passion and drive to ride this train all the way to the station. What’s the point of taking on a battle that you don’t care enough about? Because one thing is certain: you have not anticipated all the challenges you will face. It’s going to be harder and take longer than your worst case scenario. So are you sure you’re up for it? Do you have the emotional and financial resilience to deal with setbacks? And do you have a plan to build the systems and leverage you’ll need so you can still have a life?
In the end, as you stare at that better mousetrap you built, here is what you need to ask yourself:
- Why would anyone want it? What are they doing today? Is my idea really a good enough solution to get them to change?
- How will customers value what I am bringing them? Enough for me to earn a handsome return on my efforts?
- How will competitors react, and how will I win?
- How will I distribute? Manufacture? Motivate?
- How will I finance and how long will it realistically take to become profitable?
- Can I communicate succinctly, so that potential customers not only understand what I’m selling but also why they need what I’m selling?
- Do I care enough to take this on and hang in for the long haul?
If you can answer all these questions – and they’re the right answers – you just might have what it takes to turn your great product into a great business.
By the way, that P&G shampoo technology? Eventually they launched as Pert Plus, promising great hair without a separate conditioner. They had moderate success. Then they re-launched as Pantene Pro-V, promising great hair with a separate conditioner. Pantene became a billion dollar brand. The technology was never the issue. Finding the message and business model took more than a decade.
Product wasn’t enough for P&G. It won’t be for you. But think of the payoff if you get it right!