5 reasons why NOW is the best time to build a product

It's been said over and over again that an idea is worth nothing, and that it's all about the execution. I touched on this in my post "What's the value of an idea?" a few weeks back. And while there are a million reasons & ways to kill an idea - from not having a fully baked idea, to not wanting to take on too much risk right now, to not having a team, to feeling embarrassed that it may be a 'terrible' idea - I'd like to explore instead why now is in fact the perfect time to build a product. 

  1. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing. Building a product is different from building a company. You don't need to go all-in to build a product (though often times it helps, especially once you start gaining traction). You can work around your existing schedule and you can put as much (or as little) into it as you need to. 
  2. It doesn't have to be expensive. Keep in mind, building a Market Testable Product is vastly different from building a fully blown product with all the bells and whistles needed to support scale. To get to an MTP state (which is where you end up after the bootcamp) you need a few days worth of ideation and execution. From there you'll iterate rapidly at your own pace. 
  3. You don't need to know everything! What’s critical is that you start producing components that will make up the eventual product. At first, you won’t know much - about your product, your business, about your users, about how you can or will run a company. You just need to start!
  4. Thinking about a product does not equal building. This is obvious, but the more time you are not actively building your product the more time you enable competitors to move in, the market to shift, or something else to take priority. 
  5. The tools & resources available to build products have never been better. We get into this in the bootcamp, but there are a ton of free or inexpensive ways to get your product into the hands of users so that you can validate your idea. You don't need to spend money on focus groups or user testing. You don't need design or development help yet. You can do much more than you think on your own!

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration as you set out to build your own products. And the most important thing I can stress is that you just need to start - soon! I'll leave you with some inspiration:

 

How to leverage both qualitative and quantitative feedback to build better products

When you're just getting your idea off the ground, you're going to look for ways to validate what's working and what's not working. You do this so that you can make constant incremental improvements to your product. However, how do you know when something is a good or bad idea or feature? And how do you look at input that you receive so that you can make these improvements? The answer lies in capturing and analyzing feedback in both qualitative and quantitative formats.

Qualitative data is data that is captured that is descriptive - someone saying "I love how the product flows" is one example of qualitative feedback. Another is "hey, this font is WAY too small - you should make it bigger." Qualitative input comes from real people telling you what they like and don't like about your product. It generally comes in unstructured formats, though you can formalize qualitative inputs a few different ways. Qualitative data is typically considered "soft" data as opposed to "hard" data.

Quantitative data, on the other hand, is data that is measured and precise. It typically comes in structured formats. An example of quantitative data would be a report from Google Analytics telling you how many users visited your website in the past week. Quantitative data captures and reports on "hard" data, so it's easy to see trends as they happen.

When building products you'll want to incorporate both types of input. Here are a few ways to do this:

Qualitative

  1. Ask a dozen people (ideally, folks you don't know) to walk through your product and give you feedback. Write it down.
  2. Hold a focus group (on the cheap...don't get fancy yet) and have people in a session review all at once, and create a dialog about the product. 
  3. Walk up to a stranger (coffee shops are great for this) and ask them to walk through your product. Don't prompt them - just be gracious and ask them for feedback on an idea you're working on.

Quantitative

  1. Set up google analytics to see your metrics
  2. Use bitly.com to track where sources are coming from
  3. Set up an A/B testing tool like Optimizely to run split tests on different features and messages

There are all sorts of ways to gather input. Just be open to trying a few different ways out, be brave in asking people to give you input, and make sure you track all input so you can review and act upon it. 

Get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how to capture and measure quantitative and qualitative data for your product!

What's the value of an idea?

What's an idea worth? Some famous entrepreneurs as well as many people say it's $0. Perhaps that's true in straight dollars and cents. But what's an idea really worth when it's something you can't stop thinking about? Something a whole lot more. Ideas help shape your thinking about the world around you. They impact your day to day life. For some people, ideas are what propels them out of bed in the morning, and keeps them up late at night.

So while it's easy to say that an idea may be worth nothing, I tend to disagree, at least in part.

Where the rubber meets the road is in fact in execution. An idea that you don't execute on - especially a brilliant idea - will eventually get produced by someone else. There are famous stories of the "idea person" behind the scenes getting nothing because they didn't participate in building the product. Or - take Snapchat - they paid their idea person (Reggie Brown) $158 million to supposedly "disappear" after he threatened them with a lawsuit over the idea. That's pretty validating for an idea when an idea is supposedly worth nothing!

Regardless of your opinion on the topic, one thing we all know is true is that execution is hard. Placing an idea in a growing market is critical. And getting something out into the wild is the best way to get started. 

if you have an idea, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Why you?
  2. Why now?
  3. What’s the driving force behind the idea?
  4. Can it be a business?

If you can answer these with confidence then it may be time to kick the tires. Happy executing!

Craig