Are You Making Something Nobody Wants?


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This article starts out with a confession and a wound not yet completely healed. About two years ago I decided to build a learning platform for business people. I did loads of research, talked to friends, business partners and trusted colleagues. Thinking I was heading in the right direction I began fleshing out the website. After the invites went out people came, poked around the site, took some courses, wrote some good comments and then left. The site didn’t take off as expected. The growth never got going. What happened? I had such a fantastic idea? Surely people would flock to the site, lay down their subscription fee, get great education from noted experts, not just me and then tell all their friends about the unique learning experience they had had.

Over the last few years I’ve heard about Eric Reis’ book, The Lean Startup, but never found the time to add it to my reading list until now. As I read his section on developing and launching minimum viable products (MVP), my learning site mishap came back into my consciousness. It became clear to me why people had not embraced my learning site idea. The educational need is surely there. More Internet learning sites are coming online all the time.

The exuberance and excitement I had for the learning site idea clouded a tenant I knew all too well – Deliver what the client needs or wants not what you think they need or want. Early on in the development process of the learning website I had not done enough talking to potential students. How many times do we fall into the trap of thinking our idea is outstanding, awesome, fantastic, and revolutionary. Why? Well, because we thought of it of course.

The reason the learning site floundered was not because the need was not there, but because the solution offered did not hit the sweet spot of the people that wanted the education.

Back to The Lean Startup…

Eric offers a solution for this reoccurring problem of companies building something people don’t want. His idea is to build a minimum viable product. Get something into potential customer’s hands as soon as possible. Try selling the concept before going into a protracted development cycle.

He even suggests doing what is known in the marketing business as a “smoke test.” Put together a quick 3 to 4 minute video to see if the new product or service idea grabs potential buyer’s attention. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the new product has to have every feature of function conceivable to out flank the competition and be polished and documented to the nth degree.

Build what people “really” need or want and success will be closer than you think.

Here’s a link to Eric’s book. This is not an affiliate link: The Lean Startup

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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