For those of you that have been following much of the content I product, you are no doubt well aware that there is much to do before you actually build your product. However, if you’ve ever asked yourself any of the following then this article is for you.
When will I be ready to actually build my product?
How do I know if I have enough market research?
Am I solving the right problem?
These are all great and very common questions for anyone building a product business. They may seem like different topics, but in actuality they are all very similarly linked and we’re going to talk about that here.
A large part of what makes this decision so challenging is that most of what you’ll find when searching for help will misguide you.
You will see a lot of material that says things like ‘rapidly prototype’ and ‘Fail Fast!’. Which are great and all, but are also largely marketing efforts. Please realize, there isn’t much substance to these on the surface. These phrases aren’t a strategy, they are just marketing.
You can’t get the full picture behind these popular phrases by simply taking them at face value so please don’t because like I said — they will misguide you.
What I’m going to share with you now, is likely something you won’t read anywhere — everyone is guessing.
From Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk, experimentation (guessing) is a huge part of what we do when building new products. Let’s take a closer look at an example so you can see what I mean.
For those of you who haven’t been to the internet this week, Tesla unveiled a new product called the Cybertruck. Despite the tremendous success that Elon and Tesla have experienced, to make a long story short, the unveiling didn’t exactly go as planned.
I’m here to tell you why this is OK and why Tesla’s world likely isn’t going to end.
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It’s not how you ship the first version of your product that defines your product company’s success. What matters is how you respond to feedback from the market to make your product better.
In Tesla’s case, this situation is less than ideal, but what matters now is that they identify the problem and fix it. I wouldn’t expect the version of this truck that actually gets released to experience the same problem.
What matters most here is that even for hugely successful companies like Tesla, much of what we do in the product world is experimenting and testing. Don’t be afraid to test your product with the market. The worst case scenario is that you are going to learn something you didn’t already know. What matters most going forward, is how you process and respond to the feedback.
The best strategy you can use at this point in the process is to ensure you aren’t married to what your product is at the beginning. We are experimenting. When you release it to the market, you are going to learn a lot. Be prepared to make changes. Sometimes those changes will be dramatic. As long as they are what the market needs, you will be just fine. Realize that everyone starts somewhere — even Tesla.
Having said that, what can you do now to prepare yourself for when to build the first version of your product?
It’s like ripping off a bandaid
Grow a sizeable list of customers that need access to your product. Get real commitments from them. If they merely ‘like’ the idea of your product, that isn’t enough to build around.
Build the first version, but do so quickly and cost-effectively. Avoid custom code anywhere that you can. Stick with 3rd party tools by whitelabling them to match your brand.
Get your product into customer’s hands as quickly as possible. Start capturing feedback from the market. Make updates to your product and product strategy based on this feedback. Otherwise, you will spend too much time speculating.
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