“We’re just about ready to take the next step and trying to figure out how to proceed. Can you help?”
I hear this statement often from entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs — which is appropriate, given my focus. My company and blog name is Decisive Path precisely because my expertise is helping organizations understand the fastest path to sustainable revenue.
So, what do I tell them? First, I ask where they are in their product development and their vision of their business model.
The product development stage is not actually a primary concern of mine at that initial moment, but it typically is so profoundly front and center in the entrepreneur’s mind that it infiltrates almost every answer. That’s why I first offer a chance to give voice to their accomplishments and their vision so that we can then focus on the key to unlock understanding of the business opportunity.
The key is What Problem Is Being Solved.
The next step is squarely based on what problem your solution solves and, by extension, for whom. From this foundation, everything else flows: who to call on, how to qualify, MVP features, presentation, product roadmap, benefits, marketing message, pricing, sales cycle, run rate, next hire priority, and my favorite: what’s the cost of not solving the problem.
Too often I find that start-ups do not have clarity on the problem they believe they are solving. A bit surprising, right?
Listen carefully the next time you hear an entrepreneur (perhaps yourself?) talk about your opportunity. Are you providing a concise, problem-centric description of a business opportunity? If so, the energy will be palpable and I know as a listener I’d be thinking implementation: who can we call on, how do we describe their pain, how many are out there, how do they solve that problem today.
In contrast, when I hear a product-centric pitch, a voice is shouting in my head, “Yeah, but tell me who cares and why.” That’s the sales guy in my head who is primarily interested in the product to the extent it solves an important problem.
I’ve found that there is a high correlation between lack of clarity of the problem being solved and the lack of meetings with prospective customers.
Call to Action:
Can you articulate the problem you solve? Who has the problem, how often do they experience it, what’s the cost of not solving the problem? If it doesn’t roll off your tongue, take some time now and take a stab at it. I bet you have some sense of who you think needs your solution. Can you answer those three questions above? You won’t get it exactly right, but it’s an important start because our next step is to call on the people you think have the problem.
My next post will discuss your most important next step: meet with a prospective customer.