We all know the iconic line from Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come”. It was actually “…he will come”, but the business world has taken that line and transformed it to mean that no matter what you build, people will use it or pay for it. As James Earl Jones said “…they most certainly will come”.
But will they REALLY.
This business advice can be disastrous for entrepreneurs, as they cannot just create a product and hope it sells. It is still very important to engage your customers for feedback. The more important statement should be “who are we building this for?”.
Here are a few things to think about for your next startup.
- Your idea is not a secret: The secret formula to Coke is one thing, but ideas are different. Don’t guard the idea like a national secret. Circulate it to see if it is valuable and get some validation to the idea. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is usually not needed as most intellectual property is stolen after you are massively successful, not before. Use the startup time to openly explain in detail your idea to potential customers. What questions do they have? Would they pay for this service? How much? The earlier you get this feedback the better.
- Be nimble: Often the entrepreneur is so consumed with the idea, that they put themselves in a position that does not allow for change. You may think the idea is perfect, but if your feedback tells you something different, you need to be prepared to make changes.
- Everyone has competition: Your product or idea is always being compared to others. It may be unique, but when a consumer makes a buying decision, they will look at other options. Entrepreneurs need to be prepared to differentiate their brand and if need be, do it better.
- Use your outdoor voice: Telling your own story is crucial once you know who you are. An entrepreneur has to be able to communicate with a confident voice about their brand. These days, you have to use that voice not only on your website, but across all relevant social media platforms and any traditional ad campaigns.
There are plenty of tech stories of them “building it, and people coming”, but make sure you have not stuck your head in the sand thinking they REALLY will come. The Smart Money Move is to not forget there will always be basic foundations of business that need to be followed. There is no new paradigm.