Imagine this conversation:
Visionary Founder to Software Developer OR Business to Service Provider:
“Hey! I have a brilliant idea for a new product/service, that will change the shape of our industry forever. This is how I see it working…….
How long will this take us to build, and how much will it cost? How quickly can we get this started?”
In our years of experience, we have seen this conversation happen so many times. Yet, every single time, we cringe!
There is nothing against visionary founders or businesses with good intentions to satisfy a need. Our problem is not even with the vision or the idea, but our problem is how quickly we have seen businesses jump from idea to development of those ideas.
These are the 5 classical mistakes we have seen others make if they try to jump from idea to development too soon:
- Is this a problem worth solving?
Before you try so solve a problem, the first thing you need to do is to zoom in on the problem itself. You need to ask yourself if the problem you are trying to solve is a problem at all in the first place.
We have often seen people fall so much in love with their ideas that they try to force (or create) the problem so that their solution seems to be the best way to solve a possible artificial problem they just created! This is in no way to suggest that there is not a problem to solve, but if anything, we advise our clients to obsess over the problem because that is where disruptive innovation happens.
2. Is this problem big enough to solve?
Let’s say you have figured out that there is a real problem to be solved, unless you are building something to scratch your own itch or for a hobby, if you have the intention to create a business, you have to understand if this is a problem big enough worth your time and effort.
This is not about having a big TAM (Total Addressable Market), but this is about how big your problem space is. For example, TAM for a food delivery business does not apply to you if the problem you are trying to solve is creating a community of peer to peer niche ethnic home cooks.
So, think very carefully about how big is the problem you are solving!
3. Are you in the best position to solve this problem?
Okay, so you have validated that the problem you want to solve is not just yours, and there is a big enough market for it, the next step is to ask yourself why you are in the unique position to solve this problem.
Is it because you have experience in this space, or is it because you have experienced this problem first hand that you have seen all aspects involved, or is it because you are so passionate about this that you can quote market sizes and figures in your sleep?
We are not suggesting that you need to come from that industry to solve a problem. In fact, sometimes, the best solutions are created by people outside a particular industry because they come in with a fresh and disruptive perspective. However, we do recommend that you need to be emotionally invested in the problem you are trying to solve, because you are likely going to be in this for the long run, so if you don’t understand and obsess over the problem, your success could be very limited.
4. Is your solution the best way to solve this problem?
We are massive fans of Teresa Torres’ Opportunity Solution Tree when we create products for businesses. If you want to understand product development, we highly recommend you read her insights.
To summarise the approach: we want you to deeply consider all possible opportunities and solutions you have in hand to achieve a certain outcome before you decide on going down one particular solution. That is because, it is very easy to fall in love with a solution that you think is the best way to solve your problem, but if you don’t consider all options on the table, you may be missing out on other possibly better, faster, cheaper solutions.
We always advise clients to bear in mind that thinking and designing is cheaper than writing code, so make sure you have considered and evaluated possible solutions before committing to one.
5. How will you know if you have really solved the problem?
All right, so you have done the hard bits, and you have gone through all the necessary steps to understand essential factors involved before you are ready to commit to developing your idea.
However, always understand, document and plan what the success metrics need to be in place for you to know if you have achieved your outcome or not.
Over years of experience, there have been numerous occasions when we’ve had clients come to us after having wasted a lot of time, money and resources in product development, before they realised that they had never defined what success would look like at the end of that process. Please don’t make that mistake!
It goes back to our overarching theme: Obsess and fall in love with your problem, not your solution. Only then you will know if you have truly solved the problem or not!
This is why, at Amras Labs, we come up with a structured 5 step Product Development Process which helps customers at any stage to focus on product discovery, definition and design before jumping into development.
The process lays emphasis on the need to do a User Research and Solution Design which will help in defining a scope that can be used to develop the Minimum Viable Product to test the Product-Market fit.
With market feedback, we have an iterative process to improve the product in subsequent phases.