Startup Tip Number Two – Build Something People Want
As an experienced entrepreneur and mentor, I learned early on to build something people want. And believe me, I’ve had my fair share of struggles and successes in developing businesses. When I started my first company, I was passionate about my idea but didn’t clearly understand what my target audience truly needed. I made the mistake of building a product that catered to my personal preferences and interests without validating whether it was something people wanted or needed.
This is known as a “focus group of one” – when you design a product or service based solely on your experiences and opinions. While being passionate about your venture is essential, it’s also crucial to understand that your preferences may not represent your target market. Doing thorough market research and engaging with potential customers ensures that you’re developing something people genuinely want and need.
Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” This quote emphasizes the importance to build something people want and that make tasks easier, more accessible, and more efficient without changing consumer behavior. The iPhone is a perfect example of this. Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, but they revolutionized it by simplifying its interface and making it more user-friendly. They identified an existing need and improved upon it, which led to the iPhone’s enormous success.
As a young entrepreneur, it’s essential to think about ways to simplify processes and create something that people need, even if they don’t know they need it yet. Consider the case of Airbnb, which transformed how people travel and book accommodations. They identified a gap in the market for affordable, unique lodging options and created a platform that enables homeowners to rent out their spaces to travelers. This innovative approach filled a market need and improved consumers’ lives by giving them more choices and flexibility.
Another example is Uber, which disrupted the traditional taxi industry by offering a more convenient and efficient way to hail a ride. They tapped into the existing need for transportation and improved the experience by making it faster, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.
These successful startups have one thing in common: observe, listen, and interpret how customers act and continuously iterate on their products to meet their changing needs and preferences. As an entrepreneur, staying in tune with your target audience and being open to feedback and criticism is vital. This will allow you to refine your product or service, ensuring it remains relevant and valuable to your customers.
The key to building something people want lies in identifying gaps in the market, creating innovative solutions, and continuously adapting to customer feedback. As a young entrepreneur, remember that your personal preferences might not always align with the needs of your target audience. By simplifying processes and improving consumers’ lives, you’ll be well on your way to developing a product or service that people genuinely want and need.
Here are some best practices and strategies startup founders can use to ensure they create meaningful solutions that people want and need while remaining innovative and original.
1. Conduct thorough market research
Before diving into product development, it’s crucial to conduct market research to understand the landscape of your industry, identify existing competitors, and uncover potential gaps in the market. This can be done through observation, online research, surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Familiarize yourself with direct and indirect competitors, and analyze their strengths and weaknesses to form your strategy.
2. Understand consumer behavior and pain points
Take the time to study your target customers and their behaviors. Learn about their needs, desires, and pain points. Empathize with their struggles and aim to provide a solution that addresses these issues. This can be achieved by creating user personas, mapping customer journeys, and analyzing feedback from potential customers.
3. Validate assumptions
As you develop your product or service, validate your assumptions about the market and your target audience. This can be done through customer interviews, surveys, and collecting feedback on prototypes. Use this information to refine your offering and ensure it aligns with the needs and desires of your target market.
4. Test minimum viable products (MVPs)
Before investing significant resources into a full-scale product launch, create a minimum viable product (MVP) to test your idea in the market. An MVP is a simplified version of your product that includes only the core features necessary to address the problem. This allows you to gather valuable user feedback, iterate on your product, and make improvements based on real-world data.
5. Respond effectively to feedback
Listen to your users and be open to constructive criticism. Use their feedback to make data-driven decisions and improve your product or service. This helps you create a better offering and builds trust with your customers, as they see that their opinions are valued.
6. Identify unmet needs – build something people want
Innovation often comes from addressing unmet needs in the market. Look for opportunities where existing solutions fall short or do not fully address customer pain points. By focusing on these areas, you can create a unique value proposition that sets your product apart from the competition.
7. Create engaging value propositions
Your value proposition should clearly communicate the benefits of your product or service and how it addresses the needs of your target audience. Create compelling messaging that resonates with your customers and differentiates your offering from competitors.
Examples of companies that build something people want:
- Apple: Apple has consistently pushed the boundaries of technology, design, and user experience. They created products like the iPhone and iPad, which revolutionized how we interact with technology and addressed the need for portable, powerful devices catering to work and entertainment.
- Tesla: Tesla has successfully combined electric vehicle technology with luxury design, creating a new market segment and addressing the need for sustainable transportation options. Their innovative approach has led to rapid adoption and increased demand for electric vehicles.
- Airbnb: By creating a platform that connects homeowners with travelers seeking unique accommodations, Airbnb disrupted the traditional hotel industry and provided a solution to the need for more affordable and personalized travel experiences.
Building a successful startup involves understanding your target market, addressing real problems and unmet needs, and remaining innovative and original. By following these best practices and strategies, startup founders can build something people want that stand out in the market and resonate with their target audience.