Defining the Solution You Have to My Problem
Have you defined a complete solution to a market problem?
Hopefully you have been following along with this string of blogs. This is the 4th in my “Framework of Business Development” series. Defining your business, testing and validating your assumptions, and documenting your findings are all requirements to establish a strong base for business success. The real key to long term success, however, comes from understanding the various components of your business as well as possible, and better than your competition: Problem Definition, Solution Definition, Opportunity/Market, Competitive Advantage, Business Model, Culture/People/Structure, and your Business/Financial Plan. Let’s discuss your Solution.
Let’s start with what defining your solution isn’t. It is not everything your competition does poorly or wrong. There are three simple attributes to defining your solution: A good description of your product/service; How it solves the problem you identified and what is it’s value to your target market; and How does the overall solution work.
The first attribute should be your easiest, but in the end, it may be your hardest to explain completely and in a succinct way. Describe the technology behind your product/service, including material make-up, size, any specifications that are key product attributes, and what variations/options you plan to offer (and why). You want to be thorough here, but not lengthy. Also keep in mind that when you are a concept business you are listing what you assume the market wants and what you will provide. If you don’t have specific details outline your assumptions.
If you have any intellectual property claims you should outline them but be honest. If you only think you have IP, explain why but be sure to be honest that nothing has been applied for. If you have applied for a provisional patent, be honest because there is a huge difference between a provisional and issued patent. One has real value, the other has zero value.
Here is also where you want to outline how your product/service addresses the problem you identified. What is the secret sauce in your product or service that really addresses that problem? What is the real value to the target market customer? Why will they pull that money out of their pocket for your product? you outlined and how does it do that to the satisfaction of your target clients?
But that isn’t enough, what’s your real solution to the problem?
Finally, you want to outline your overall solution. How will your product be manufactured (i.e.- contract manufacturing), assembled, warehoused, delivered, supported after the sale (i.e.- customer support or training)? Here is where you are going to need to spend time making and testing assumptions to verify the overall best solution as you solidify your plan.
Remember in order to develop a useful executable plan you must first outline your assumptions for each of the attributes/questions outlined above. Next you must develop a means to test those assumptions, whether that is finding out data via the internet, interviewing people, or what ever it takes. The goal to your testing is to verify to the greatest extent possible whether or not your assumption makes sense. If it does, it’s probability of being executable in a successful manner is significantly higher. Why is this important? Overall it will help ensure that you spend your money as efficiently as possible as you move forward executing your plan. If you are seeking funding, it will also increase your early valuations.
Your challenge today is to document your solution and boil it down to no more than 1.5 pages. If you can’t do that, make some assumptions and start testing them ASAP.
Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group