Refine your product offering. Build something that works. Implement Payments and Measurement.

Creating a business is hard, but getting something in front of customers is absolutely the first step. Business ventures are designed to solve a problem, to connect with a market, and to create wealth for founders. In his book “Burn the Business Plan”, Carl Schramm argues that a business plan may be sound, but must always adapt based on what you learn from your customer. Learning about your customer is essential to building a business that works and one can learn the most by putting our product in our customers’ hands.

Your vision is always ambitious. Realize that it’s like eating an elephant, and the secret is to eat it one bite at a time. Hang on to it, but don’t start with the whole thing. Focus on identifying high-value low-hanging fruit that will capture the interest of your user. Identify 3 key milestones that deliver something valuable as your first objective. Take a spartan approach in building out your early features and add fidelity, look and feel, and experience improvements over time.

It’s easy to find another product in the marketplace that solves your problem but has a poor user experience. This is because solving the problem is frequently hard and giving it an effective UX will allow it to grow, but cannot replace the core value of the tool. Focus on delivering the value and keep technical debt low so that you can improve the experience incrementally to continue to capture your market.

Finally, don’t hesitate to add payments to your app. Decide if you’ll make some part of your offering free, set up a trial period or make your initial feature-set free, but offer customers the option to pay you as soon as possible. Many early adopters are interested in paying for what they use. When your customers pay you, this is the best signal that you are on the right track. Separately, measure everything: interactions, visits, logins, sign-ups, conversions. Your business is in a critical discovery phase and you should learn as much as you can about what is working for your customers. Sometime Net Promoter Score surveys can be helpful but encouraging your users to respond to them is hard. Measure passively as much as you can.

Building a foundation for your business means focusing on the value you can deliver and ensuring that you’re reliably adding to it based on customer feedback. The sooner you can get real user feedback from people using your product, the sooner you can determine how good your idea is and if it will sell.

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