As a leader of your own startup company, you will need to set the approach for developing products and solutions. Some people have mistakenly thought that “products” and “solutions” are separate, unrelated things. The Product Development team works on products, while the Marketing team works on solutions that fit a market need (more spin than substance). But this is a dangerous way of thinking, and it’s actually backwards because they put the product first and then try to retrofit the “solution” to fit the product.
The optimal approach is to set the mindset of the entire company to develop solutions that continuously refine product ideas in order to drive value creation for customers.
Steps to Do It
Step 1: Identify the problems / pain points / unmet need(s) in the market you are aiming to be successful in.
Step 2: Brainstorm, develop and test solutions to those problems / pain points / unmet needs.
Step 3: Develop product ideas out of the “solution” that you have come up with for the problem / paint point / unmet need you have identified.
Step 4: As the problem / pain point / need evolves over time (and it always does), you stay agile to continue to refine the product idea so that any product you develop is always solution-oriented, solving a potential customer’s problem in some unique way.
You create value for customers by delivering a product that solves their problem. This alignment of product and problem starts with a mindset to be this solution-oriented.
Mistakes Startups Make
Too many startups create products for the sake of the product or the technology or the “cool idea.” Or they start out being solution-oriented but then drift away from it because of internal politics, lack of focus, loss of touch with the market or simply falling in love with their own product to the point where they stop refining it and they just want their sales team to sell more of it.
Fortunately, when you are developing solutions, you can use the bigger picture concepts of the “solution” to continuously improve upon product ideas at your startup. Let the solution development guide the product development. As the problem evolves, the solution has to evolve, and then the product must evolve. If the product doesn’t, it will become outdated in a relatively short period of time, hurting your business.
This is why you need to think about how flexible and modular your product will be over time. For example, you’d need a platform that can accommodate software updates on a regular basis or can accept new modules to expand or change capabilities over time. This reflects a solution mindset.
Think solutions development and then your product ideas will be perfected and rooted in the reality of real customers with real problems or challenges that need to be solved.