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Craig Wearne Nov 2, 2016 12:00:00 AM 2 min read

So You Have A Product Idea - What's Next?



So.  You have an idea, and you want to get it out there as quickly as possible.  You've done some rough numbers, spoken to a few potential customers, and you feel that your idea has business value. But it could take twelve months before you launch.  What if someone else can launch sooner?  Nobody wants to be second to market.  And, what if the opportunity passes?  

Time to market can be one of most critical success factors for any product.  More so in the Technology space.

There are many reasons for needing to get a product, or product feature, into the marketplace quickly.  Being the first to market with an idea can put an organisation in a strong position to define that market. Trying to break into an established market can be expensive.  Especially if you need to do so quickly.  If you're charging for a product or service, the market price point is more or less set.

Develop iteratively.

There is no rule that says the first version of your product needs be perfect, or have every conceivable feature.  Besides, perfect is a subjective term. What you should be aiming for is value.  Your product, or service, should be of value to those you are creating for.  By developing your product iteratively, you can focus on delivering only the most valuable features.  This eliminates waste.  More importantly, it allows you to get something out there, quickly, where it can be validated by your customers.  The feedback and ideas that come from your customers can be added to your product roadmap and implemented as part of a future iteration.  Why spend time thinking about what your customers want, when you can spend time validating and developing the features they have told you they want?

Apply iterative development to everything.

Don't just limit iterative development to building phase of your product.  Apply it to the entire process.  When you're just starting out with your idea, draft a rough business model.  Sit down with your team, or a mentor, and validate some of the assumptions.  Do this quickly for a few iterations.  At the end of each iteration you will decide whether to proceed or head in a slightly different direction (pivot).  Try to add value as you go.

Iterate your design phase as well using the same philosophy.  Do some rough wireframes and see if it feels right.  As you iterate, add more hi-fidelity designs that can be used in the development phase.

Iterate the whole.

Again.  There are no rules to how you choose to iterate.  You may choose to be more cautious and iterate on the business model first, then decide to move forward.  You could also take the approach of iterating everything at once and quickly release a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP), evolving your business model in alignment with the product.  The goal is to get something of value out there as quickly as possible, so that you can begin to really explore the potential value of your idea, now.  Not in twelve months time.