Success Starts with a Plan.

When starting a new project, planning is crucial. As we reflect on the projects that have gone well, and those that haven’t, most issues originate before the first line of code or preliminary sketch.

As our processes have improved, we’ve distilled early planning into a few key questions. They provoke conversation and get things moving in the right direction.

What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Identifying the actual problem can be difficult, but getting to the root of the problem allows you to craft the best longterm solution. It’s also important to be aware of how far you’re willing to go to solve the problem. For some, recycling will solve the problem of pollution. For Elon Musk, it’s populating a new planet.

Who are you solving it for? Teens make decisions differently than 75 year old retirees. If you think you’re product is for everyone, and you’re not the Squatty Potty, you haven’t focused enough. Having a defined audience sets the stage clear communication and effective user experiences. If your building it for my grandparents, everything needs to be 3 times bigger. If your building it for my daughter, it needs to be durable enough for her to chew on.

What differentiates you from the competition? It’s common to assume Apple sells billions of dollars because their stuff is ‘pretty’. This notion causes us to think that we’ll be able to create a competitive product because ‘it looks great’. This is not the cause. When stepping into an existing market, the product or service should be 10x better. When released in ’08, the App Store was an obvious 10x improvement over alternatives. (For those that don’t recall, we used to buy, insert, and install software form discs.)

As you dive into these questions, it’s helpful to talk it through with others. Our blinds spots often prevent us from seeing the truth.