Having a look around, it seems like everyone is trying to work on the next Billion dollar idea these days. So how do you stumble upon a brilliant idea? And how can you be sure that it’s going to be successful?
A good-sounding idea usually revolves around addressing a problem for a community or a group of people and a product that scales. A business that targets a larger mass in the right spot is likely to become a hit in a short span of time or if not, definitely grow successful over the years. Being at the core of your audience’s pain points and needs puts you at a good vantage point. So what is a good formula to get started in the right direction?
The number one thing for you to do is to explore your idea and have a thorough understanding of what you are thinking. Jot down all key features of your product/service. Conduct detailed competitor analysis and build on those insights to improve your offering.
Writing a business plan always helps with rethinking and giving truce to the thoughts you have in mind. One of the templates to use that we find quite precise is the one by the good folks at Sequoia Capital. It helps you in setting a base for yourself. This is one thing we highly recommend spending time on when building scalable products.
Once you have nailed this, your next step should be creating a financial model to give a clearer understanding of your plan, revenue model and plan the next 3 years of your business at this stage theoretical startup journey. Every information that you put at this point should be backed by factual information. The more detail you incorporate in your financial plan, the more realistic your goals and forecast will be. So be sure to think about everything; growing business needs, inflation, market changes, revenue shares, reinvesting, operational expenses etcetera. Other than this, a detailed financial plan is a gateway for you to get past the venture capitalists your initial funding relies on. Nothing translates to an ill-planned or half-cooked startup more than a financial or business model that doesn’t make sense.
In short, your investment and revenue must make sense. They must lead to building a workable and scalable product in a manner that is realistically doable. Your forecasts also act as goals/targets for your startup’s growth trajectory.
Plan Your Team
Once you have a draft of your business plan and its working model at hand, you have got to determine the roles you need to make that model work. Do you need lots of senior management personnel or do you need a single member to look after each domain with varying seniority levels? What chunk of the revenue can you set aside labeled as salary expenses? Do you need a large team or will a team of 3-4 members work in favor at this raw stage of the business?
You need to plan your team depending on the type of company you are looking to grow into. There is no second thought on having the right founding team to get you started; and this means having people with the right skillset and experience. If you are operating in tech space, your startup needs to have a CTO as one of the founding members and another member with sales/ business development experience in their backpack. VCs view single founding startups to be a high risk to invest in. Y Combinator recommends to at least have a CTO in the founding team. At some stage, you should also be thinking about creating a board which should comprise of people that represent the industry.
It is a common mistake many startup founders make- ask their family and friends for help in validating their business ideas. It is a big no-no. The most effective and constructive way to validate your business idea is to talk to potential clients.
If you are looking to provide a premium customer experience to your user, you might want to consult a product/service design agency. During the product discovery stage, when you would be asked numerous questions to get insights on the details of your business idea and its model, you will your hands full of valuable additions for your business idea as well as great customer experience to provide to your users.
Take out a list of companies or individuals that might be your customers in the future and discuss the product features, differentiators, pricing with them. This will result in giving you a bunch of improvement areas to work on to come up with a holistic, all-in-one product/service. Constructive criticism will lead to an enhanced business model and product.
So how do you build great products that work and scale? You start by understanding who your users are.
Create Personas / Archetypes
Creating personas in accordance with the research is a great way to represent different user types that you business might interact with. It is crucial to understand your user’s needs, goals, experience and behavior.
We find empathy mapping the most effective way to create archetypes or personas. They are specially useful in immersing yourself in your user’s environment. It allows opinions to be heard and derive meaningful insights that are eventually going to help with building a product that scales.
Recording responses through an interactive activity with a group of your target audience is a great way to dive into the customer segments, elaborate on user personas, capture behavior and build out the user in a user story.
Create Feature List
Creating feature lists allow business owners to personalize the key features in accordance to the need of their users. Since going digital is now a necessity for every business, it is extremely important to create a user experience that grows on the user across platforms.
Journey maps allow to build maps that capture users, their emotional states and thoughts, interactions, pain points at every level of the action they are taking based on their goals. This exercise helps in creating a narrative that is condensed and polished, ultimately leading to visualization.
Epics & User Stories
One of the most effective ways is to divide the workflows into themes. Epics and user stories are both used in the agile framework. This aims to help you with planning your largest milestone to the smallest detail. User stories entail what a customer is looking for to solve his problem and epics are usually made when there are more than five user stories with the same focus/problem statement. These methods help the development team prioritize and work accordingly.
For feature listing, user flows are also often used. They vary according to the nature of your business. Getting a hold of the user needs helps the product team build a user flow and experience. User flows are simply a visual representation of the many avenues that a user comes across while using an app or website. Depicting the process in a visual representation helps content and design teams to optimize the user experience throughout the flow.
While you are planning to come up with any product or website, it is of utmost importance to prioritize a potential set of features. Your design agency can help you with this activity and it results in coming up with prioritized features by stakeholders, especially customers.
An impact/effort matrix is tool used for decision making along the progress of the development of an app or website. Each idea and project or strategy is assessed based on the level of effort required and the impact or benefit they will produce. This works by identifying objectives and team goals, creating a quadrant chart with tasks divided among these to create an action plan.
The four factors this model comprises of are:
It is a prioritization framework that helps product managers to determine which products, features and other initiatives to put on their roadmap timelines by scoring them against these factors. It helps ranking product features according to their importance along the completion of the product or service.
No matter what product is being designed, it needs to follow a structure and the best way to give a good structure to your product is to use Information Architecture. It helps teams organize the content of websites, web and mobile apps. It is the backbone of any digital product and gives content the right place so that the user flows are streamlined and the journey makes sense for the user.
This is a testing process that usually happens very late in the development process. This aims at testing and proving that the output of a designed software matches the input of specifications done earlier. Common methods used are Usability Testing, Focus Group, Contextual Interviews and A/B Testing.
Usability Testing refers to testing a product or service with its representative users. This activity acts as a recheck method for the app or website. Flaws are indicated and product teams can solve them before launching the product.
Focus Groups, which is another method widely used for Design Validation is another helpful way to gather information regarding a product, service or concept. Product teams gather the most suitable potential users and an open discussion helps identify product loopholes and improvement areas.
Many big enterprises use contextual interviews as a method of validating designs. The user and the researched work one on one to conduct this activity. This offers a deep insight into how users actually use a product. It is an effective technique that helps product teams to deploy user feedback.
A/B Testing is a widely used method. It is used to compare two versions of a web page or app against each other. The user’s interaction with the two different versions is recorded. It enables data-informed decisions which shift the business conversions from what is thought might work to what will actually work.
These are a few steps you can follow to build products that scale. Not only building a product but making it the best version of itself that sells is the aim. However, it all boils down to having the right partner to handle all the load for you and refine your product or service more and more till it is crisp. Reach out to us to get started with your business idea. https://venturerepublic.net/start-a-project/