If you are anything like me then you might have lots of creative skills at your finger-tips (Mr Humble), unfortunately having skill alone is not enough to guarantee any success … the trick is turning those skills into cash and using them to add value? surely? Perhaps like me you have failed many times in the past investing unspeakable hours into that great, exciting and new product idea for little or no return? If this sounds like your experience maybe this article will provide some comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone (at least!).
Slave to the Matrix
Chances are you are like most other people, right now you are selling your Labour, skills and experience to an employer (note self-employment also falls under this category).
The only REAL difference between paid employment and self-employment, freelancing or whatever is the latter carries more risk, stress and a much higher level of expense. You are STILL a slave to either the system or yourself. This sounds like a no win situation.
Yet there is still hope for you to escape slavery to the clock and your task masters.
Creating a Product that Sells
Take a look at any really successful entrepreneur and you will find that they have the freedom on how to best invest their time – their earnings are not dependent on them personally being sat a computer working 9-5, 5 days a week .. they have products or more likely a portfolio of them.
If we are to create a product that sells we must start with the Market first, sounds really simple doesn’t it? But as creative folk we can spend days on Prototyping our ideas, creating functional products, developing business models and forecasts, dreaming of how our fortunes might change … what might be just around the corner .. this time it will be different yak yak
IN REALITY.. NO IT WON’T
The problem was that we got too excited about the idea and the longer we continued investing our time, the more dillusioned and disheartened we became until finally we ran out of steam and momentum. Just think for a second what we could have achieved had we stuck to the basics and set clear objectives along with the path to achieving and measuring progress in the first place.
Did you consider Market Research?
May I suggest before you invest one more bit of effort and time, yes before you write a single line of code, excel or create wireframes in Photoshop that you get credible answers to these questions:
Do people want or need the product/service you are offering?
If so, how many people need it?
Which features are important to these people and which are not?
What price would customers be willing to pay, and why?
How are you going to economically get it to market? Can it even be done based on your resources or do you need to acquire support?
The truth is that you can’t assume any of it, you have to ask the potential buyers these kind of questions directly first and be open to challenge. It doesn’t really matter how super or precious we are about this NEW great idea … if you aren’t prepared to listen to what would be the target buyers then what is the point? The aim was to make money and having raving fans of your product right?
I genuinely enjoy reading these kinds of blogs; they are encouraging and quickly help you to spot your own inefficiencies or ways that you may be procrastinating.
One of my favourites at the moment is the Unicorn Free blog written by Amy Hoe. One of her recent posts was titled When You Should Ignore Your “Customers”. The problem with these kind-of blogs is that you are often told “just do it … you wont know unless you try …” but that’s dangerous and unwise, if you haven’t first done any real market research.
I don’t think Apple or any really successful companies would still be in business – had they ignored their customers… the spirit of the article to be fair – was that some customers are never going to buy, never going to be happy with you, so they might as well move on to a new supplier leaving you to make money whilst remaining true to your own values and behaviours.
Start as you mean to Finish
What I mean here is that you can only move forward positively – if you know – there is in fact a market ready and waiting to buy your thing, having even a basic evidence base will help you to keep on with the idea and eventually get it to market. Make sure you have a clear direction of travel and action plan. Seek out in advance potential early adopters and the right kind of advisors, one thing is for sure Mavericks seldom make it on their own so be open to new ideas and support.
So in closing let me welcome your thoughts and opinions on what you think it takes to create a product that sells.