No Business Plan Survives First Contact With Customers
Start With a Business Model, Not a Business Plan and avoid three common pitfalls:
1 – Falling in love with your first idea, without exploring alternatives
The same products, services or technologies can fail or succeed depending on the business model you choose. Exploring the possibilities is critical to finding a successful business model. Settling on first ideas risks the possibility of missing potential that can only be discovered by prototyping and testing different alternatives.
2 – Not listening to customers hard enough
Constantly talking to real potential customers from the very inception of your ideas all the way to their execution is a prerequisite for any serious founder. Great entrepreneurs are often great listeners and they can spot patterns and pick up on small details in customer stories.
3 – Not testing hard enough
Once you have an idea of those customer jobs, pains, and gains you do not want to rest until you have tested if what you have learned from talking to customers is actually real. Actions speak louder than words. There is a big difference between what people say and what they do. People might tell you they are excited about your new product, but when they are in a buying situation their behavior might be totally different. Get potential customers to perform real actions.
Do it the right way!
Distill Your Message to as Few Words as Possible.
Simplicity has never been more powerful.
People are constantly being bombarded with new information. The noise is so deafening sometimes that your most important message can easily get lost in the shuffle. Everybody’s talking at once, saying so much, that people can no longer remember what we started talking about in the first place. Tweets are flying through the atmosphere as thick as a flock of birds, filling minds with an endless stream of useless information, and crowding out the few things that were really worth knowing.
The world is noisier now than it’s ever been, the competition is tougher and more global, and your customer is being bombarded around the clock with a massive stream of messaging that makes it ever more difficult to remember you and your company.
Focus on simplicity
To be truly memorable, to be the one product or service that people remember when the dust settles, you need to narrow down your message, streamline your sentences, cut out all the fluff, and deliver one, just one strong, simple message, and deliver it clearly and concisely. One of the most valuable skills in the world is the ability to explain complex concepts in simple, easy-to-understand terms.
Writing lots of words is easy; making your point with an absolute minimum number of words is really hard. Yet it is so much more effective. Mark Twain once said: “I would have written that shorter, but I didn’t have the time.” Find the time.
Imagine you had a quick minute to tell a potential customer why he should do business with you. Because in today’s world, that’s all you have anyway.
Write down what you want to say. Now cross out as many words as you can, each time reading the sentence again to see if it still delivers the point you want to make. Keep crossing out words until you have created the shortest sentence you possibly can.
Next, go to one person and deliver your simplified pitch.
As soon as you are done, have that person tell a person who wasn’t in the room what you just said.
The goal is this:
if a person who hears your simple message can repeat it pretty accurately to the next person who asks what your company does, you’ve got it right. If they don’t say exactly the words you want repeated–to build your brand and establish your company’s unique value go back to the drawing board and simplify it some more. Keep it brief, straightforward, and clear. Eliminate any industry-specific jargon. Avoid the noise and clutter. There is elegance in simplicity.
Simplicity does not mean removing features, benefits, or services from your product. It means distilling what’s most important about those features, and explaining them in the fewest words possible.