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Why Start Developing A Company Before Having Product-Market Fit?

People have product ideas all the time. Many of them are probably not winners. The number one reason they fail is achieving product-market fit.  Yes, not enough money is also a big reason for failure, But money alone cannot make a startup successful. Remember Pets.com. They started with several hundred million dollars, blew it all in two years trying to find product-market fit, and went bankrupt.

So why would an entrepreneur want to start spending money developing a product before having a product-market fit? No matter how good you think, the idea is, you may be the only one in any zip code that thinks so.

So, how do you get a product-market fit? Don’t you need a product to show potential customers to see if it solves their problem and the problem is serious enough that they would spend money to buy it?

No, you don’t. However, you must have a product or service idea that solves a high priority problem, and a solution that makes sense to the buyer, and at a price, the buyer is willing to pay.

OK. What do you do? You start doing your homework. Mostly, your homework is a time requirement, not a cost problem. Be frugal and resourceful. Frugal people are generally more resourceful and, therefore, more creative than people with lots of money to spend.

Start by defining the problem, What is the problem you are trying to solve? That is not easy to answer because there isn’t a large market with a common problem. Geographic and demographic markets are filled with people who will interpret the issue in many different ways. Seth Godin, author, and entrepreneur, wrote in his book “Tribes” about how markets consist of people with a certain mindset in any zip code. Which mindset in which zip codes are you going to select?

Then, what is the solution? The solution is your story (which is also your strategy)  about the problem, solution, results, and why prospects should buy from you. If you define, create, and prepare a story to explain what you offer — your value proposition, you are ready to begin talking to prospects and getting their feedback before you spend development money.

You could prepare to present your story in many different ways. For example, you could do it with a slideshow, a white piece of typing paper with hand-drawn illustrations showing key elements ( I have done that, and it works perfectly) of your story. You could produce an animated whiteboard video that would allow you to show a five-minute presentation in less than two minutes. You could use an easel with paper and make key points as you tell your story. As I said before, be resourceful. A good story packed with facts and emotion plus a visual will enable you to tell a compelling story.

No matter how technical or complicated your product is, select a story format that allows you to tell the story without jargon, and without technical terms, the audience will not understand. An excellent simple story and some illustrations will enable you to tell a compelling story,

These simple presentations will get you the information you need to find out if your value proposition could be a winner. Also, the questions you ask, and they ask you will offer insights into how you can keep revising your product until they say, “you can do that?”

Once you get to a point where you think you have a product-market fit for this specific product design and this specific audience, you will have the confidence to begin the development process.

Also, see our blog,” Five Quick, Effective Ways To Tell Your Business Story.

Jim Zitek/ Harbor Capital Group 

We empower entrepreneurs with information, insights, and the conviction they need to find, develop, and embed their stories throughout the development process to build successful companies.