For as long as a product is able to serve a particular purpose and add value in the market, people will be willing to pay money for it.
The best way to learn as an entrepreneur (value provider) is through engaging your product with the market (selling), as soon as possible. Whatever the stage of the product, it must serve value or purpose that which people can exchange money for. Say you take time loading features onto your product, and then release the product into the market, the market will give you feedback on what to tweak.
It would take more time to tweak and return the product to the market than if you had less features. Another reason not to overload your product is, once you get into the market and competition strikes, the extra unloaded features can be used as ammunition to stay ahead.
I want to quote something that Rick Alden (founder of Skullcandy) once said. I struggled to find the precise quote, paraphrasing will do. He said, the first one to get to the market, is the market leader. I think he was pointing to what I stressed above. Skullcandy didn’t take that long to get to the market. And as they were in the market, they learned a lot of things which helped the company become stronger. This would have probably not been the case had they delayed to launch. Skullcandy is a headphone leader in the outdoor action sports market.
With Gabble Heights Clothing, we started off with one t-shirt range. Of course we wanted to have other clothing items, but our budget didn’t allow. So this gave us an opportunity to market one range, which was easier than if we had multiple items. Through our interaction with the market, we learned a lot and with the money made thus far, we introduced other items.
9. Protect product use value through innovation and consistent enhancement
The truth of the matter is, everything changes, people change, competition gets tougher, and other factors like piracy take course. Say you release your product this year and people buy it, then next year and the following years, they have no reason to buy it again because they have it already. Your duty is to then give them such a reason to continue buying. The role of a business is to make money every day (or year) if possible and keep making it. So, the year following the product release, release something that the same consumer who bought the first product can buy, so as to keep making money.
Even if it’s an enhancement of the current product, those that bought the old one would want the new one because it has something that the old doesn’t have. In this way you will continue making money.
But be very careful not to totally take the crap out of the previous product. You might upset your first consumers (I’m not totally sure of this, think it through).
Take Apple for instance, it’s always taking money out of people’s pockets, it’s always making money, as businesses should, and as they are meant to. From iPhone 1, you want iPhone 4s and now iPhone 5.
Another example is Google. Since its inception, it’s been improving its main product which is the search engine. Again it has been acquiring other properties that now make money for it; Youtube, Android, etc. If their search engine business was to become less profitable, it has invested its profits in other revenue driving streams/products.
I’m not dictating to you how your product should be. I’m sure there are many other ways to think of this process. Take what you think will work for you.
This article is a slightly edited extract from Tiisetso Maloma’s book, ‘Forget The Business Plan, Use This Short Model’ (published by Tiisetso Maloa, 6 January 2013). The book is available at Amazon (Kindle and paperback) and Kobobooks.com
Tiisetso Maloma is a South African entrepreneur, most times an entrepreneur activist. He has ventured and wrestled in the clothing, music, animation and television industries. His company At Large Communications, helps businesses build and leverage business models (product architecture & psychology, marketing and distribution). He writes economic and entrepreneurial development programmes for AfriBizCulture (NPO). His current startup (co-founded) is DVDapps, a DVD disc based edu-training-app authoring company.