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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?

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    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.

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    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 , 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.

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    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.

    In the video below I cover in detail How To Create A Successful Product.

    * * *

    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:

    Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to create a successful product. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way, you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.

    Creating a successful product is the Holy Grail. Thinking about launching something, putting it out there on the market, how people are going to react. How do you iterate? How do you optimize? We’re going to cover everything in today’s video. We’re going to give you that step-by-step guide on how to execute and how to make it happen. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

    Everything starts with a Why. Why did you, in the first place, get started? Why are you trying to bring this to market? There are great people that have described in detail, their Why. Finding your Why, whether it’s your product, your service, your company; it’s everything. 

    Take a look, for example, at the great book from Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He actually talks about great examples of why companies like JetBlue, Southwest, or Apple and why they were able to be so successful. Ultimately, that Why, at the end of the day, creates the culture. It creates the passion, and it creates the big drive to really push things forward because, ultimately, if you have a very powerful Why, you’re going to get contagious with your own customers. They’re going to be excited, and then they’re going to also drive this, and they’re going to become your ambassadors at the same time. Understanding your Why is critical.

    Another component is hiring the best. As they say, B- people are going to hire average and mediocre people. A+ people are going to hire A+ players, so you want to surround yourself with the best people out there, the ones that have that skill set, that know-how. Ultimately, it is going to allow you to get your head above the water so that you can see everything around you, and you have a clear understanding of the execution and path ahead. 

    So, basically, keeping your face and your eyes above the weeds so that you can see and so that you can execute. Again, you want to hire people that are better than you, people that can help you because, as the saying goes: you can go faster if you go alone, but you can go farther when you go together.

    Then you need to know your customers very well. Essentially, who are they? Where are they? What is the problem that they’re experiencing? What will they get excited about? You want to do a lot of qualitative research and a lot of quantitative research so that you are able to understand whether it’s via phone calls, meetings, or data that maybe you even capture from surveys. You’re able to capture what they need, who they are. Some of that data is going to allow you, as well, to optimize your marketing efforts and put that product or service that you’re bringing to market in front of these people that are going to be highly-highly incentivized to buy it. So, numbers, data, and knowing your customers are all critical.

    Also, ask your customers what they want. Rather than you making assumptions, rather than investing all this money into the product, into bringing it to market, into technology, into development, or whatever that is, don’t execute based on assumptions. You should always execute based on data.

    For example, if you get a nice data set of some of your customers, and feedback that they’ve given you, you can use that to implement and guide your execution much better. Rather than just figuring things out, ask your customers “What do you want? What would excite you that we could bring to market?” Then, based on what you’re hearing, then you grab that information, and you use it to your advantage in order to execute.

    Like everything, you need to validate purchase intent. It doesn’t matter if someone is telling you that it looks cool, it looks great, they love it; if they are not able to get their wallet out, pull out the credit card, put money out, and buy it from you, you have nothing. Purchase intent is everything. Without purchase intent, there’s no success. Ultimately, what you want is to put it in front of people that don’t know you, that don’t care about you, and see if they’re willing to make a payment.

    For example, a great test that you can do is to create a landing page that you can create with the science, or whatever that is, put it out there, put some Facebook advertising or any type of advertising to it to drive traffic to that page, and then you’ll see if people are willing to click on the button and make a purchase. By having that purchase intent, you’re going to validate whether what you’re bringing to market is something that people want or not. That way, when you go into more research, more investment, and so forth, then you have a clear understanding that there are people that are willing to pay for it, and that is super important.

    Then you also want to know your competition. What are your customers using? What are other alternatives? Why do they like those alternatives? A good way to do this is to survey your customers, either existing or potential customers, so that you know what’s out there in the market, why they like about it, and what you can make better than that.

    Also, the user experience and the user interface are going to make all the difference. You want to design the experience. You want to design that onboarding, the retention, them seeing the high moment of it, and getting excited with what you’re doing. That’s going to be a really critical aspect. Think about it like Apple, for example. When you get one of their products, the whole experience happens with opening the box, the smell, the product coming out. That’s all great stuff and that’s ultimately the experience that you want to create, whether it’s with a product, whether it’s with a platform online, whatever that is, but what you’re selling needs to be an experience.

    The next thing is the branding and the pricing. The branding should go along the lines with the data that you’ve been able to collect from your customers. So if you know that your customers are going to be between 20 and 30, maybe you want to use a more young look and feel type of logo and branding.

    On the pricing side, you want to do some price testing. The way that you go about that is, you start playing and testing with the price. You start to see that if you start at a certain point, and you continue to increase, eventually, once you’ve got to a certain place, there’s going to be a big falloff of customers. That’s what you need to identify. What is that price point that you can take it all the way up to where there’s not going to be a big fallout from your customers and that you can still maximize the output for the price that your product or your service is going to be?

    Then simplicity and focus. There are a few things that you can master. You can’t do more than three things. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, but more than three things, execution is going to be super difficult. Again, you need to be super-focused; you need to go straight to the point, super-simple so that people get it, and also so that you don’t over-complicate your own execution.

    Then, it’s all about scaling. What I mean about scaling is you need to figure out how you create a wheel that turns on its own, not by adding more people but by adding more money. Because if you add more money, for example, to marketing or to advertising, then that wheel turns on its own super nicely. That’s what it means to be able to scale, and being a scalable business where you’ve developed a model that is repeatable and scalable is the Holy Grail.

    So, hopefully, you liked this video. Hit a Like; leave a comment, and let me know what you’re up to. Also, Subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re bringing out every week. And if you’re raising money, send me an email at alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com. I would love to help you out with your capital-raising efforts. Thank you so much for watching.

     

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    Neil Patel

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