The Wisdom of Niches

Hello again,

I got a lot of really helpful and constructive feedback on the first issue — thanks! So here is the second one, incorporating some of the ideas people suggested.

The focus this week is on niches, but I’ve also included:

  • Some tips on how to interview customers
  • A helpful and practical clarification on what “Minimal Viable Product” really means.
  • A checklist for launching on Product Hunt
  • A discounted offer on my summer short course in London.
  • An invitation to join the 7th FFWD London pre-accelerator programme.

Best wishes,

Paul


Focus: The Wisdom of Niches

I am convinced that focusing on a niche is the essential discipline of building a viable business. Especially if you’re small. These two articles nail it from different angles:

First up is Michael Skok’s classic post on the importance of starting with a focus on a small segment of people, who share the same job-to-be-done:

The “lean startup” methodology is great and has done a lot to revolutionise the way we create startups.
But too many entrepreneurs who follow the lean methodology get stuck in a product spin, consumed with making and honing their Minimum Viable Product.
The “minimum” part of the MVS is about keeping your segment as small as possible to be able to dominate it with your limited startup resources. Once you dominate it, you can claim leadership. Even if this leadership is just in your MVS, it’s valuable to your positioning and credibility for the next segment you want to go after.
Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to focus at the start. You can always build on success, but it’s hard to cut back on failure if you’ve already spread yourself too thin and failed to meet any one need fully. That’s where the Viable part comes in.

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking your Minimum Viable Segment

venturebeat.com

Chelsea Fagan’s story is a great case study illustrating the power of the niche:

It is better to define yourself sharply and grow yourself slowly than to start big and have to work your way backwards from there.
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Why Having a Niche Business Is the Best Thing for My Mental Health — medium.com

Defining the Job

Once you’ve defined your MVS, you need to figure out what they really need.

This is a quick, straightforward, and easy to implement guide on how to interview customers to define their job-to-be-done. If you really don’t have five minutes(!?), here’s the three questions:

  1. What are you trying to get done? Why?
  2. Can you show me how you currently do this?
  3. Can you show me what’s frustrating about your current process?
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Never Ask What They Want — 3 Better Questions to Ask in User Interviews — medium.com

Build the Product

Despite its popularity, there is still a lot of confusion about what an MVP actually is. This article provide a simple three step process to help clear things up:

  1. Start with a single, simple product solving a tiny sub-set of a Grand Problem;
  2. Keep iterating, while constantly solving bigger, related problems en route to solving the Grand Problem;
  3. Constantly communicate the vision of the Grand Problem that will be solved.
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What the hell does “Minimum Viable Product” actually mean anyway? — medium.freecodecamp.com

Launching

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Duuude, get up! We’re #1 on Product Hunt… — SpreadShare — Medium — medium.com

A useful checklist for managing your launch to get the most attention on product hunt

Tools you can use

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SpreadShare — Find and Share Spreadsheets — spreadshare.co

Really useful collection of databases and spreadsheets for startups

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Free Stock Photos & Images for Commercial Use — burst.shopify.com

I’m always looking for an easy way to find photos for presentations…

Coming up …

Shelley O’Hare did a great interview with João Lopes de Almeida, one of the students on my Summer Venture Design course. CSM is offering a 10% discount for anyone who registers by the 31st May, so please share. They just need to use the discount code DTHINK when booking here.

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Design Thinking For Business Innovation — CSM Short Courses Blog — blogs.arts.ac.uk

Interviews seem to be running like buses this week. Here’s one with Slava, a recent FFWD London pre-acceleration alumni. If you know someone who wants to join our next cohort, they can book here.

Slava update

Career Development Centre » Entrepreneurship Special: Do you have a Big Idea? — blog.westminster.ac.uk 
 Build

But if you’d rather do-it-yourself for the moment, have a canvas!

That’s it!

Please let me know by whether you find this useful by recommending it below.

If you do like it, please forward it to others!

Thanks for reading this far.

Paul

Slingshot Venture Development