Money is not the reason why great tech products were built
Most successful businesses were built to solve a problem their creators had. It wasn’t about money, that came later as a result. It was about identifying a problem or a need that a niche had and providing it with a solution. If you start building your business having only revenues in mind, you’ll probably miss the most important indicators leading to a successful product. In many cases entrepreneurs launch products on the market and notice that the way their clients use the products is quite different from what was initially intended. This is what you should be paying attention to — building processes to create a product that supports customers’ needs and maintain loyality.
In my recent articles I have discussed the high rate of start-up failure linked to:
- General poor financial management
- No software development plan
- The need to perform a software proof of concept
When I am involved within a software project from inception, I need to know what are the key business factors driving the project. Most people assume it has to be monetary based. Not always the case to be honest. If you are a technology start-up looking to make an impression or attract market share perhaps, what would you need to consider?
You need to assess the following 5 steps within business objective:
- The Business Objective
- Business Drivers
- Outcome Status (With associated comments)
- Customer Impacts
Example Business Objective
Below is an example business objective matrix regarding the launch of an innovative financial services mobile application. The point of such a matrix is to identify the “WHY” you are personally pursuing your idea. You may not attract instant revenue at the beginning. You may need to earn the markets trust before they are willing to hand over their hand earned cash.
In this example I have defined the target age group and income bracket they belong to. Further to that there are 3 key “business driver” categories to consider. In this case we primarily focusing on launching an application to market. As identified in the “outcome status” indicators obtaining financial return is not the highest priority. Providing the target market with an innovative product will provide the opportunity to take market share from a competitor with a trial period approach. Further product adjustments and phases will address the financial return and profitability of the product.
All 4 “brand risk management” outcome indicators are on to make a market impact. To be honest they should always be on. The question comes down to ongoing maintenance of each “outcome” while you are in business.
Due to the high regulated nature of the financial services industry, the “support regulation” indicator is a bright green!
To finish it off, what are the customer impacts?
Many businesses only think of the general public. Well we need to consider the internal staff impacts of launching an application to market. Who is going to support the public if they have a problem or inquiry?
Sometimes third parties such as brokers or agents are impacted. They are your customers also. There is an integrated eco-system of customers that I see get overlooked from time to time by certain businesses.
If you want to download the “Business Objective Matrix” spreadsheet, please use the link bit.ly/1VO74Lo
Please feel free to modify to your business needs. I just want to give you are starting point to crystallise what your objective is.
Being on Purpose
One must be clear and on purpose as to WHY they are building a particular piece of software for their business. When defining your software testing strategy be sure to identify upfront why you are attempting the project in the first instance.
“If you cannot answer why in a simple fashion to a stranger on the street, you need to question why you are trying to be in business in the first place”
Don’t do something just to copy your competitors. They may have a total different reason to you for developing software. I have seen many businesses take that very approach and fail with catastrophic financial impacts. This is why I highly recommend performing a proof of concept prior to any high spending spree. It allows you to obtain real market feedback from users to determine if your software idea is satisfactory.
Not all software projects have to achieve a profitable outcome. In many instances a lot of software particularly on smartphones/tablets are free and for good reason. Companies providing free applications may want to increase their brand reputation and provide value added services for their existing customer base perhaps. On the other hand, they may want to attract new customers. The important thing to note in this instance is the software you have built or are building needs to be maintained. This costs money and if your business cannot support this approach I don’t recommend it.
Facebook was and still is free. Facebook’s rich database allows them to extract and analyse the best consumer trends, habits, tastes, opinions in the history of the human race. Obviously advertising revenue doesn’t require them to charge access to their application.
You may have an existing software application in the marketplace assisting with your business growth that may require a compliance related change. In this instance you are addressing regulatory or legislation requirements, but no financial benefit. Only the ability to avoid government related fines for non-compliance. Mind you this depends on the industry you operate in and not all industries are subject to regulatory aspects.
Most start-ups or entrepreneurs have an idea to address a market need. This can be in the form of innovation or a profitable opportunity. This is one of the reasons why the entrepreneur revolution has exploded. The ability to get online with an idea and the possibility of making millions would excite anyone.
Just be clear on what you are trying to achieve. You might need to break it down into several business objectives that address different phases of your product or service during market launch.
Most importantly it provides purpose to you, your staff, contractors, third party suppliers, business partners, potential investors and the market at large to what you are trying to achieve.
I would love to hear your opinions, questions or subjects you wish for me to cover.
Please post your feedback to me via the discussion boards below or visit my website at www.mikehamilton.com.au.
Once again thank you and signing off.