This past week I had the pleasure speaking with a group of (mostly) new entrepreneurs at an Ann Arbor SPARK event. The focus was to discuss, at a high level, those key things important when creating a new product. My comments apply whether the product in question is a tangible widget or an intangible service. In this post, I want to talk about the first segment of the discussion: Listening.
If I had but one over-arching suggestion to make, it would be to listen to your market. Odds are, listening to people describe their problems is how your first came up with your ‘idea.’ Listening cannot stop there though.
Only through listening can you uncover your customers’ problems. You should be asking yourself which ones you can help with. Can you do it well? Who else is doing what you might want to do?
What Keeps your Customers Up at Night?
I first heard this question perhaps 10 years ago, and I love it. The question is incredibly focusing. When ‘George’ the CEO goes to sleep at night (or tries to) there are likely only 2, maybe 3, key issues keeping him awake. Whatever they are, they are almost certain to boil down to Productivity and/or Revenue.
Thinking about your customer, about George, and listening to what he has to say will almost certainly give you some insight as to what keeps him up at night. Sometimes I will simply ask the question directly, “George, what keeps you up at night?” If the discussion is wandering, this often helps put it on track.
How can your product solve George’s problems? How can it help with productivity or revenue?
Thinking about what keeps you up at night can be incredibly helpful in narrowing down your own distractions.
Part 2, on Friday, continues with knowing who your customers are (and are not).