Working Backwards for Success

Working Backwards
Working backwards for success

Product development in today’s cluttered market has never felt like a more daunting task. However, if you look a little closer, you may be surprised to learn that it has actually never been easier. You’ll be surprised to find that most of the successful products launching today have been working backwards for success.

Getting Started

You have probably heard the same talk all before while embarking on a new product development process – there is just too much competition, it costs too much, and VC’s aren’t investing in this space. As it turns out, there has never been a more optimistic outlook for hungry and innovative new startups. Despite the fact that the unicorn trend is fading and VC’s are more reluctant to give out money, startups are continuing to persevere to find new ways to find success. Not only that, but startups are now able to get to market and launch MVPs quicker and more cost effectively than ever with the help of new technology aimed at motivated founders. 

The available resources for founders starting lean new companies are more abundant than ever before. Cloud computing, the advent of no-code tools, and a new trend of alternative financing methods are all allowing startups to stay lean initially without sacrificing any quality. 

Startup funding options

One of the most important things you can do in the beginning is to make sure you nail your product development framework. There are many different views on how to do this properly, but George Deeb from Rocket Ventures may have put it best:

Keep it simple, stupid!

One of the most approachable and organized ways to apply this to your product is to initially focus on product positioning.

Product Positioning

“You need to position your product in the eye of your user.” This is an important piece of advice from Cover CEO Arielle Jackson. Many new founders will get lost in so many specifics, technical details, and secondary features that they forget about the people they are helping in the first place. 

You should imagine yourself as your ideal user and determine your product’s key components. Who is your user? What is the problem? How are you solving it? Answering these questions as succinctly as possible and outlining your top 3 critical features can help zone you back in if you get your head lost in the clouds at first.

A good example of this is the strategy used by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. Rather than getting tied up in the many, many potential features of a music streaming platform, he decided to focus on the user experience. He wanted to make sure that from the point of signing on to streaming a song was the fastest in the market. In an interview, Daniel Ek tells us, “I had this idea of the kind of product I wanted to see in the world,” he said. “I told my team, ‘If we can create the feeling that people have all the world’s music on their hard drives, we will have built something that’s much better than piracy.’ This reinforces the notion of trust that was a core component of Spotify’s mission. 

Daniel Ek

The Practice Press Release

Yet another great example of how to position your product initially is to work backward from the consumer, a similar approach that behemoth Amazon and their global product teams follow

You will need an exciting, concise, and hard-hitting piece of marketing content that everyone on your team will be excited about. Working backward from this point initially can help set you up for success and outline the most important parts of your mission statement to keep you focused as you progress. This is working backwards for success in action.

Try a template that includes a few key components such as:

  • Heading with a catchy and memorable tagline
  • One sentence summary of your target market and solution for them
  • 3-4 sentence paragraph describing your product
  • Describe the problem
  • Describe the solution
  • Quote from a satisfied customer

Using this template, you can create a manifesto that you can always refer back to to keep your vision in order. As you progress, it is likely this document will be updated to fit your developing goals and vision. 

When it comes to getting your product to market faster, the key is to have a solid customer-centric product development framework. In the early stages of your company, it is always best to keep this simple and focus on the bread and butter pain points you are solving. Once you have a rock-solid initial framework, the rest of the puzzle will fall into place much more easily. So start walking backwards for success!

Daren Trousdell is an early stage investor, advisor and founder focused in the Fintech and Digital Media space.

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