“I have come up with a great idea for an online business and I feel that I’d be able to start-up without any major barriers. But I’m unsure how I’d make it into a definable ‘product’ and persuade people to part with their money. What can I do to help turn my idea into commercial reality?”
This is an exciting position to be in and as you’ve identified it’s critical to ensure you have your product and value proposition clearly defined to the point where people are willing to part with their money to buy your product.
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There are two key things you should do from this point:
1. Talk to you target customer
When starting a new business it can be very tempting to keep your idea to yourself and not tell anyone about it until the glorious unveiling at your launch event.
This carries a lot of risk, so much so that I think it’s much better to share the idea with everyone you can and collect all their feedback so when you do launch, you have a much better product to launch with.
The reason for this is that 100 other people have probably had the same idea as you already, and the business that will succeed with the idea will be the one who executes on it best, talking to your target customer early in the development process will help your execution.
This was our approach with Shoes of Prey. When we were still in the planning phase of the idea we talked to everyone and anyone who would listen to us about our idea, including writing about it on our blog a full six months before our launch.
The feedback we were given helped us define things like price point, our target customer, appropriate branding and how best to pitch the product on our website. This information and feedback was invaluable and with the number of things it encouraged us to change, if we waited until our launch to collect it, I’m not sure we’d even be in business today.
2. Test, test, test
The second thing to do is to test your product on your friends, family and anyone else willing to give it a go. This will provide you with even more valuable feedback helping you to clearly define and package up your value proposition before taking it to market.
Again, we did this with Shoes of Prey. Our first test was pretty primitive, we had a group of our friends and family design their shoes using a series of photos.
The testing helped give us a clearer picture of how to build our online shoe designer and also helped us clear up issues like the best way to work out a customer’s shoe size online. It’s important to find a good balance between the time it takes to test and how much this holds your launch up, but the testing step is critical.
After speaking with your target customer then testing your product on them, you’ll have received valuable feedback on how to tweak your product offering and hopefully people will be chomping at the bit to buy it from you when you launch! Good luck!