How to create a successful product? In other words, how do you ensure the success of your startup by ensuring you create a successful product?
Products are the core of every business. Without them there is no business. This is true, even when the product is a service, subscription, or free trial.
If you don’t absolutely nail the product, then everything else is going to crumble, fade and fall apart. For many, they are so far off, and so slow to see it, that they run out of money and time and have to fold.
While the product itself isn’t everything, nailing the product will certainly make everything else easier. It will make it easier to find and secure great talent, funding, customers, vendors, and to get the most juice out of every dime and minute you put into this.
So, how to create a successful product for your startup business?
Know Your Why
There is no doubt a lot of discovery, change, tweaking, and pivoting ahead. You need to be flexible to a certain extent. You also need to be resilient. A castle that can hold out the longest against all assailants and sieges.
To manage this, it is essential to have extreme clarity on your why, and to really own it.
This will help you determine what’s noise, and where not to compromise, versus where you need to adapt and evolve.
So, what’s your why? Why are you doing this? What are your reasons for creating a startup? Why this problem and product?
Out of all of the other things you could do, and the almost infinite choices out there, why is this so important and magnetic? Why are you going to stick to this venture and make it happen through all of the trials ahead?
Be sure it is an extremely strong reason, or the odds of you creating a successful and sustainable product and business are going to be pretty weak.
Know your why, own the resolve to stick to the mission, and see it through no matter what, but be very flexible on the how.
Are you looking for more ideas for how to find a million-dollar business idea? Check out this video I have put together with a few guidelines on how to get started.
Hire The Best
Really owning your why will also help you with bringing together the right team. A successful product is typically not just the output of the genius and work of a single person. It’s a team sport. At least if you want it to be really popular, have commercial value, and build a big business out of this.
Product people are important. You need technical excellence to create a strong, effective, and functional product. Especially, to create one with a great moat around it to fend off the competition and protect your position.
However, one of the most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make is to focus only on bringing together and recruiting a highly capable and accomplished technical team.
That can be helpful. It is also an expensive first step. It is also putting the cart before the horse.
The most successful entrepreneurs often won’t even consider writing a single line of code, mocking up a prototype design, or even defining what type of product they will build until they’ve done a ton of other groundwork first. First, they need to completely understand the problem.
Then, getting out to raise money and sell can come long before building a product. Make sure you are hiring in the right order. Know your most important next steps and to-do tasks.
Be sure you are hiring for these action items in the right order. Otherwise, you may run out of time and money before you get a successful product finished.
Or end up with a product with no use or purpose. Hiring the best minds first can help you avoid blunders like these. It’s the first step when figuring out how to create a successful product.
Start By Knowing Your Ideal Customers Very Well
Although your real customers may end up being much different than you anticipate, you have to dig in and really both intimately and granularly understand the problem and your customers.
So, what is the problem you are striking out to solve?
Get out and validate that it is a real problem shared by enough others to justify and support a very large and fast-growing, and profitable business.
How many people are suffering from this problem? How many are suffering from this every year, and will need a solution they will pay for over the next 10 years?
What percentage and how many of that larger group are a great fit for what you expect to be able to do and deliver?
Which of them can you and do you aspire to reach out to and put your product in their hands first?
This is your target market. Your ideal customers.
Get to know them extremely well. By the end of your research, you should know them intimately. You should know not only what they may be doing in their business or professional life, but where they hang out in their free time on and offline, where they spend their money, how much money they have, what time they get up and go to sleep, and take breaks from work.
You should know what their deepest pains and fears are, as well as their hopes, needs, and aspirations. Only then can you really begin strategizing creating a product that can be successful, and that you can build a business around. Understand your target customers when defining how to create a successful product.
Ask Your Target Customers What They Want
There is a lot of media spin, research reports, and flawed data out there. It can help you begin to filter and narrow down your research. Though there is rarely any better way to really get to know and understand your customers than to have real conversations with them.
Steve Jobs may disagree with this. He believed you had to tell people what they wanted. Though visionaries that are successful to that degree are truly a rarity.
Your odds of success will be far, far better if you talk to your customers and straight out ask them what they want. As well as what they don’t want.
Ask For The Sale
Talk is cheap. Unless it is the money that is doing the talking.
All the asking and yeses that you get in your research are absolutely meaningless unless they are accompanied by dollars.
If this is going to be a business, it has to bring in money. At some point that has to be from some type of customer.
Don’t ask if they would buy it. That means nothing unless they’ll pay you for it. If they are that interested and convicted enough to buy what they said they want, and what you are selling, then they should have no problem taking out their credit card upfront, in advance. Know that if they crash your site with pre-orders, you’ve probably nailed it. Just be sure you can deliver.
If they aren’t willing to pay for what they told you they wanted and would pay for, then something is wrong. Go back and figure out what that is before taking another step forward. Learn how to create a successful product.
Know Your Competition
You still have to know your competition in addition to your customer.
What is your competition doing well and poorly? Don’t assume. Don’t mimic. Look at the data. What are they doing versus saying? What are the real results?
Poll customers and why they have chosen them or not. Though be sure you are also researching them on the commercial side too. You have to be creating a product that is at least at the bare minimum, 10x better than anything else in production.
Design Your Product For The Customer
This is one of the hardest things for most entrepreneurs to do. It may seem counterintuitive at first. Yet, it is really the only way to create a truly successful product and business.
The hard pill to swallow is that it really doesn’t matter what you like or want to create or want it to look like. This is about serving the customer.
If you just want to build what is effectively a piece of art and give it away that is one thing. If you want to build a business and a product that sells, then it is all about the customer. You succeed by giving them what they want.
Curate A Customized UX Experience For Your Target Customers
It’s not just about the product itself. A successful product is far more than the functionality and aesthetics of a product. You must also design a user experience tailored to your ideal customers too.
Many very smart entrepreneurs completely fail here. They are either too inward-focused or just copy what they see others doing.
A big part of your customer discovery also needs to incorporate the delivery.
Design The Purchasing Experience
You should know your customer journey and customer sales cycle. How can you help make it all easier, more convenient, intuitive, and pleasurable for them? The purchasing experience is a critical facet of understanding how to create a successful product.
Design The After Sales Experience
Successful startups not only do well at new customer acquisition, but equally well at making and keeping their customers happy, keeping down churn rates, and increasing retention. It will make all the difference in your unit economics, burn rate, investor interest, and sustainability.
Don’t just sell customers, and then become the problem that you wanted to solve, just like the entrenched incumbents in your space.
Branding & Pricing
The entire brand has to match and support your product and what you’ve learned about your customers. How does it look, feel and change things?
Will you be the luxury, discount, or value-based option? Will you be making limited time or limited quality sales offers?
Be sure you tell the right story around your brand and product. The right story can make up for all the flaws and imperfections in your product. A lackluster story can detract from all the good qualities and benefits of your product.
Getting your story right is critical because at some point you’re going to attempt to raise funding for your venture.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Keep It Simple & Focused
In the early days, a successful product and startup rely on simplicity and focus. You aren’t going to get funded unless you have extreme focus and can show your potential investors that you can focus on just one thing. Just one problem and benefit. No more, no less.
Don’t worry about the frills and extras. You can add and test all the fancy updates you want later on. You just won’t have that opportunity if you can’t keep it simple out of the gate.
Make Sure It Is Scalable
You may have to personally do things that don’t scale in the beginning to craft the right product and get it sold. Yet, unless you have a path to scalability and systemizing scale you won’t get far. At best you’ll be stuck as a small local business or hobby.
You have to be able to systemize it, ensure the unit economics can work, and you can deliver in bulk at great speeds. Cost-effective processes are critical when understanding how to create a successful product.
Test, Iterate, Test Again
Your first product launched will never be perfect. The fastest route to perfect is to just get it launched and start shipping and testing. Collect that data, tweak the product and go at it again.
Then secure the funding you need to really ace this, create it, market it, enroll the right team, and scale it.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.