You have an idea. A side hustle. A piece of software that you’re sure could be the Next. Big. Thing. But you have that day job. Family obligations. How can you know when the time is right to pursue that big idea? How can you know whether you’re up to the task at all? Here are 9 questions you should ask yourself before you kick off your product creation journey.
#1 Why am I doing this?
Why should this amazing new product exist in the first place? What problem or need exists that this product is destined to solve? Are you just making it because it sounds cool? Sure, it’s possible that you could stumble upon the next pet rock fad and sell gangbusters at launch.But if you’re looking for long-term success, you would be better to serve an identifiable need. The satisfaction (and fun!) of being an entrepreneur comes from identifying that product that both fills a need and falls within your particular passion and skill set. That’s how magic is made.
#2 But, why? (Part two)
You’ve identified an unmet need. Great. You have a good idea. Nice. You have the skill required to make it happen. Fantastic. But why do you want to go to great lengths and follow all the steps to develop a new product? After launch, you then have marketing, distribution, manufacturing if needed, for example. You need to ensure you’ve got the motivation to maintain your entrepreneurial adventures.Yes, finding your passion to create something only you can make is a winning strategy. Look towards an endeavor that leaves a real impact on some portion of the world. The joy of creation. The satisfaction of making a difference. That’s where the excitement of entrepreneurship happens. That’s what will ultimately keep driving you to succeed.
#3 When do I want to launch?
You’ve answered the “Why’s.” Your motivation is strong. The Force is with you. Now, when are you going to get all this work done?Do you have the time to take on all the steps to develop a new product? Will your day job performance suffer? Are you willing to take time away from your family?Are you willing to give up free evenings and weekends?Your answers to these questions are the difference between just dabbling and creating something lasting and meaningful.
#4 How will my business work?
It seems obvious, but do you really know what you’re doing? We’ll grant, for the sake of argument that, if you’re building new software, you probably have the coding skills or understand the product development process. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Do you know how to run a business?Finance, management structures, legal, taxes--you get the idea. You certainly don’t need to know it all at the beginning of the process, but make no mistake. You’re starting a business. You will need to learn these things (or find a partner who knows them already)
#5 How much will it cost?
How much is this all going to cost? The product development process comes with its costs. Have you got savings you’re willing to spend? Do you have friends or family willing to donate or invest? Are you willing to go into debt or hit the streets to convince strangers to invest? Money, and financing, are maybe the most important parts of your business. Best figure out now how much and where to get it.
#6 Who is (are) your target audience(s)?
Who are you doing this for? What’s your target audience? How old are they? Where do they live? What’s the best way to communicate with them specifically? These questions are all crucial steps to develop a new product. If you don’t answer these questions, you might as well just toss a bowl of spaghetti onto the ceiling and hope that some of it lands on your plate. Sure, you might get a little food, but the majority of your effort is wasted.
#7 Who else is working in your industry?
Who else does what you’re trying to do? Who is the competition? Is there just one competitor, or several, or are you blazing an entirely new trail? First, identify the competition. Then, study their product, their successes and their failures. It’s much easier to improve on something that already exists than to create something from nothing.
#8 Why do your customers want to work with you?
If there are competitors in the market, what case can you make to convince users to switch to you? What will you do better? What new benefit or convenience will you offer? Will you be more affordable? Once you’ve identified the competition, you need to make sure you have a plan for doing it better.
#9 What are your goals?
What are your goals for the project? What are your financial targets? What are your personal goals? How will you define success? How much of your future do you see yourself spending on this before moving on to something else (or retiring)? If you do intend to move on, what’s the plan for an orderly changing of the guard? Make sure these questions are all kept in mind before the product development process commences.You will have spent countless hours of your life making your dream a reality. Make sure you’ve planned a future for that dream once you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things.Now go. You’ve got exciting things to build. And when you're ready, use Builder to make your next software product happen quicker than you ever thought possible.Thanks to Bruce Mars for the top image.
Erica Grigg is our Global Lead of Digital at Builder.ai, where she's been on board since August 2018. Previously, Erica Co-founded a media startup, co-authored a book on Facebook and worked with numerous businesses and non-profits, including the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations and Comcast. She's happy to share her lessons learned and best practices yet to be developed on the Builder Blog. Follow her on social media @EricaGrigg on Twitter and at linkedin.com/user/ericagrigg.