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“I’ve got 99 problems but..” source: IMDB

Good problems to have

Jamie Sunderland
Jan 24, 2018 · 2 min read

The team think it’s a great idea, all of the numbers add up, the business logic makes sense, it feels bang on trend for the industry, everything works technically, but no customers are on the product yet. What happened?

Early-stage digital products get held back by teams who struggle to execute on ideas early and accept there is uncertainty and failure. Conversations and decision making end up being so speculative — “What if customers try to change their password? Or want to upgrade to a premium account?” Well if they do, it’s a good problem to have and solve later. Teams who over-plan and lose touch with the reality of what they’re asking the customer to do, first and foremost.

Let’s take it back to Product Design 101: Are you solving a big enough problem that people, other than yourself, actually have? Can you create value in a novel way through a product or service? This is the point of prototypes — to build insight around these questions. Sure, it’s good to plan and be prepared in the right areas however if that is to the detriment of getting feedback from customers, ideas get over-developed.

Where digital products can start-up is getting more and more tricky. There are lots of smart teams working on helping to solve the same problems. No matter how big the market potential is, getting the first ten customers to love a new product is one of the hardest and most important tasks teams will ever face.

At NEU, we move teams away from the risky “Big Bang” approach to product launches. A product shouldn’t be a surprise to customers in the market, although it may feel like that to competitors, it should be a relief and feel almost intuitive that there is a product available for them. When the teams we work with drift into daydreamy discussions, we like to think about scenarios as “good problems to have” so that if/when they do happen, it’s a positive and we’ll react and grow.

More food for thought:
Recently we re-visited the methods of The Disciplined Entrepreneur. Lacks on prototyping method but lots still on point.
- We regularly use Intercom and Log Rocket as tools to watch users on products we’re testing. Sounds creepy but helps.
- Statistics on early-Stage Venture Returns — only 1 out of 4 investments make money. Success requires investing in “losers” Link to Tweet/Source

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