Entrepreneurs and business owners of any age or business stage will benefit by considering Sylvester’s 5Ps for Successful Venture Start Up and Development.
First things first. Let’s discover the potential of your new idea for your offering – whether it is a product, service or solution. Take a look at who would use the offering and why. Are you fulfilling an established need, but doing it better? Have you identified a pain point that has yet to be addressed? Or do you have something people would love to buy if it were made – the Steve Jobs approach. Finding specific applications that are valued by specific potential users will give your venture a focus. You have a starting point to estimate potential sales volume, consider segments of users and define customer characteristics that will evolve into important understandings to define both your offering and your market positioning.
Next, stop thinking and start making. Build a prototype – a rough working model of what the product, service or online community will do or look like. Do not be afraid to try and fail with many iterations. After all, that is the creative, invention process. What is important is this – to test your idea with a prototype that will allow you and your potential users to see, feel, and touch the offering. When you build, either physically or conceptually, you will become aware of requirements, cool features as well as constraints and bottlenecks. More, as you better understand product challenges, you will be at the right viewpoint to generate relevant solution ideas and product innovations. Be sure to test with sample target users to receive feedback on the usability and customer experience with your offering – and do this continuously throughout the product design phase.
As the saying goes – “People make the world go round”. Many successful entrepreneurs and industrialists have said that putting the right people together was equal or more important for success than the business concept or product itself. Beware, though, of setting the right expectations. Specifically, clarify from the start – the initial and long term roles, compensation and duration of the relationship. From first hand experience as a strategic business advisor, many ventures become derailed, or at least seriously delayed at critical investor or stakeholder negotiations due to lingering confusion or conflict among people involved with a start up venture. Vague promises and expectations – both spoken and unspoken, lead to massive problems. But have hope. Make a real effort to define stakeholder roles, expectations and compensation formulas. Begin yourself to document these understandings and also summarize your venture governance approach from a business viewpoint. Then formalize these in legal agreements. It is important to be clear and fair from the start for the benefit of the venture as well as for individual stakeholders. In many cases thing are already underway and a tangled mess. In these situations – stop everything and reset expectations. If necessary, make use of a business advisor or other professional to establish a new foundation. This can be addressed as a key goal of a strategic review or corporate offsite.
As everyone knows, building a new venture requires executing an extensive list of activities and tasks. These may overwhelm many people and can lead to paralysis. Lack of priorities is a root cause for many venture team bottlenecks and burn out. Importantly, a lack of focus due to lack of priorities is expensive and demoralizing. It leads to inefficiency and higher than necessary cash burn rates. The starting point for a solution is to clearly establish venture direction and goals; next set priorities and align them among the team. These are the essential outputs of your strategic planning. Be sure to socialize the prioritized roadmap among key stakeholders and across the organization to promote common understanding and commitment to execute your technology development and go-to-market plans.
A fifth lever for your start up is to decide the pace, or speed, for your venture commercialization. Pace shapes your activity levels, drives your resource needs, and sizes your cash burn rate. Thus pace influences your finance needs and options. For most ventures a fast pace is a necessity. This may be due to an expiring patent, a desire for first mover advantage or taking advantage of an IPO window. At other times patience is an asset. In all cases, defining and guiding the required pace of your venture is an advantage for navigating your venture commercialization.
In conclusion, intentionally addressing the 5Ps of potential, prototype, people, priorities and pace, will allow you to better drive and shape your new venture for successful commercialization.
About Sylvester Di Diego
Sylvester empowers people to ReThink, ReCreate and ReLaunch technologies and businesses for successful commercialization, strategic market positioning and business development.
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About the Author, Sylvester Di Diego
Sylvester Di Diego is founder and Managing Partner of Strategy Dynamix, LLC, a boutique strategy, innovation and implementation consultancy involved in business creation, development and transformation.
Learn more about Sylvester Di Diego at http://strategydynamix.com/aboutus/executives.php.
Learn more about Strategy Dynamix, LLC at http://www.strategydynamix.com/.