Tips for Startups
Customer Discovery: the Hidden Key to a Successful Startup
The term “customer discovery” might make you think of all kinds of processes.
Is it the part where you try to learn as much about your customers as you can? Is it the part where you go out and discover actual flesh-and-blood customers who will buy your products? Is it something else?
Turns out, it’s something else.
What Is Customer Discovery?
Customer discovery is a term used by two of the main figures of the lean startup methodology, Steve Blank and Eric Reis. They define customer discovery as questioning your core business assumptions. It is a way for you to validate your ideas and theories by going to the source – the customer – and a way to flesh out evidence supporting your product-market fit.
When Would You Need Customer Discovery?
In reality, you need customer discovery whenever you are designing a product or a service.
Let’s break it down into three distinct stages:
- You define a problem/market need (that your product/service is meant to fill).
- You develop a hypothesis about the solution (i.e., develop the product/service idea).
- You conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis (gather data from actual customers).
Yes, customer discovery is meant to validate your ideas – but it is more of a scientific approach than asking your friends, family, and coworkers what they think about your idea and whether they think it would work.
Let’s take a look at the four key steps to customer discovery, and see how you can use it to design solutions that fit your customer’s needs.
Step One: Come up with Your Hypothesis
This step encompasses stages one and two we’ve listed above: you are defining both the problem and the solution you are proposing to implement, and you are forming a hypothesis as to how the solution will impact the problem.
The best way to formulate your hypothesis is in a single sentence: my solution solves problem X. As simple as that.
You want to be incredibly specific with your hypothesis, and you want it to be accurate. Don’t just assume certain people have a certain problem. What if these people don’t see it as a problem?
That’s what customer discovery will help you discover, but in order to set off on the best foot possible, ensure you have a firm grasp of the issue yourself.
As for specificity: don’t just say, “I am solving the problem of lack of dog walkers by starting a dog walking service.” Instead, go for “I am solving a problem people living in this area have with walking their dogs from 9-5 by offering a safe, hassle-free, and reliable dog walking service”.
Step Two: Define Your Assumptions
As you can already tell, you were forced to make certain assumptions in step one. They may be correct, or they may be incorrect, and now is the time to write them all down.
You may be assuming that something is a problem (when, in fact, it isn’t), you may be assuming that your solution will help (when in reality, it won’t), and you may be assuming a certain demographic has this issue (which they may not).
Once you have your assumptions down, create a target persona in order to alleviate as much of them as possible. This is the person you are targeting, your ideal customer, the person with these problems.
Go into as much detail about your persona as possible, as it will help you ensure your data is sound later on.
Step Three: Test It out
Now that you have your hypothesis, an ideal customer in mind, and you are (in theory) aware of at least some of the pitfalls you may be facing, the time has come to test your theory out in the real world.
You are going to ask some people some questions.
The people you start with should be your potential customers. In our hypothetical case, dog owners living in a certain area, working 9-to-5 jobs.
Don’t ask people living in other areas, people who own cats and not dogs, or people who don’t own dogs but live in the area and work the nine-to-five. You have defined your audience – stick to it.
As for the questions themselves, you need to be very careful about how you formulate them.
You don’t want to ask, “Do you think this is a good idea?”. You don’t want to say anything about your idea, in fact. You want the people you’re asking to tell you what they would appreciate as a solution, and you are then going to build your solution based on their answers.
This is what customer discovery is about – creating a final product that matches the real needs of real customers.
To that end, your questions should be open-ended and not specifically related to your idea. Here are some examples:
- What do you currently do for…?
- Do you like the process?
- Is it working out for you?
- If you could improve the process, how would you do it?
- What is the biggest challenge about…?
- What do you like about it?
And so on.
The answers you get should help you outline your solution and make it a reality in the future.
Step Four: Evaluate Your Data
Now that you have plenty of data at your disposal, the time has come to go through it.
If you have done your homework well, you’ve likely discovered information you had no idea about previously. Someone has pointed out a solution or an issue you were not aware of.
This allows you to go back and refine your hypothesis and the idea itself, at which point you can do another round of customer discovery.
If, however, you’ve discovered your hypothesis was entirely correct, you can move on to product development.
Test out more than one hypothesis, and keep discovering until you are satisfied that you have come up with the best possible solution.
Customer discovery is certainly a lengthy and complex process, but it’s worth all the effort. It can significantly increase your chances of producing a solution that not only works but that is already sought after by a vast number of people. Consequently, your solution will be much more likely to become a success.
Tips for Startups
Best Product Packaging Strategies For Startups
Hey entrepreneurs, launching a startup can be a lot of work! You stress about funds, operations, and team building. And while you prioritize product development, packaging may take a back seat, right? But did you know that it drives the buying decision for 72% of Americans? That’s surprising, but true.
And it also means that product packaging is one of the ways to stand out and grab customers’ attention in a cutthroat world. That’s a good reason to go the extra mile to nail a strategy. So, if you’re wondering how to make your package pop without breaking the bank, we’ve got some killer tips for your startup.
Here is what you need to know to win an incredible unboxing experience for your customers.
Know your target audience
You’ve got to know your target audience to create a successful product. And the same applies to packaging. Who are you trying to reach and sell? What are their preferences? What would they want in the product package?
By understanding your target customers, you can pick an option that speaks directly to them. For example, if your target audience is health-conscious millennials, choose a minimalist and eco-friendly one that emphasizes your product’s sustainable ingredients.
Focus on customer experience
Your product packaging is more than a pretty face. It’s also about enhancing the customer experience. Think about how you may create a memorable unboxing process.
Consider adding unique features, such as easy-open lids, tear strips, or resealable packages. By making the components easy to access, you get the benefits of brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
Consider what’s inside
That’s a no-brainer because your product determines the packaging material. Things are easy if you sell a single offering, but CBD entrepreneurs may struggle to choose different materials for different products.
For example, you will need a tincture bottle, boxes, mylar bags, cartridges, and tin containers for different items in your portfolio. Additionally, you’ll have to ensure that they are child-resistant and preserve the flavor and aroma of the components.
As a startup brand, you can gain a lot by joining the sustainability bandwagon, and packaging is a good place to start. Buyers care more than ever about the environmental impact of products and brands.
So eco-friendly packaging options are surely ideal. Prioritize biodegradable materials and minimize excess packaging. It’s the best way to make your offerings pop in a market saturated with competition.
Branding is key
Remember that your packaging is a crucial part of your brand identity. So ensure that it aligns with your company’s values and messaging. It should replicate your brand’s color schemes, fonts, and imagery.
The text labels should also match your brand’s personality and tone. The idea is to remind buyers of your brand every time they see the product on the shelves.
Is packaging a big deal? Yes, it actually is when it comes to the product packaging for your startup. You’ve got to ensure it makes a great first impression and drives a buying decision. Well, there are no shortcuts to winning the packaging game. But you can try these tips to ace it!
Tips for Startups
What Startups can learn from the Special Forces of Armies around the world
Startups and special forces of armies may seem to have very little in common. However, upon closer examination, there are several key lessons that startups can learn from these elite military units. Special forces teams are highly trained, flexible, and able to operate in rapidly changing environments. Startups, too, must be able to pivot quickly in response to market changes and evolving customer needs. In this article, we will explore several key lessons that startups can learn from special forces teams.
Lesson 1: Build a strong team
Special forces teams are composed of highly skilled and specialized individuals who work together to achieve a common goal. Similarly, startups must build a strong team of individuals with diverse skills and backgrounds who can work together to bring their products or services to market. A successful startup team should have a mix of technical, business, and creative skills to ensure that all aspects of the business are covered.
Special forces teams also place a strong emphasis on teamwork and communication. They must be able to work together seamlessly, and each member must understand their role and responsibilities within the team. Startups can learn from this by fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication within their team.
Lesson 2: Adapt quickly to changing environments
Special forces teams are often deployed in rapidly changing environments, where they must adapt quickly to new situations and changing conditions. Similarly, startups must be able to pivot quickly in response to market changes and evolving customer needs. This requires a high degree of flexibility and agility, as well as the ability to quickly assess and respond to new information.
Startups can learn from special forces teams by adopting a mindset of constant adaptation and improvement. They should be willing to experiment and iterate on their product or service, and be open to feedback from customers and other stakeholders.
Lesson 3: Embrace risk and uncertainty
Special forces teams operate in high-risk and uncertain environments, where the stakes are often very high. They must be willing to take calculated risks and make difficult decisions under pressure. Startups, too, must be willing to embrace risk and uncertainty in order to succeed. They must be willing to take chances and make bold moves, even in the face of uncertainty.
Startups can learn from special forces teams by adopting a mindset of calculated risk-taking. They should be willing to experiment and try new things, while also being mindful of potential risks and taking steps to mitigate them.
Lesson 4: Focus on the mission
Special forces teams are highly focused on achieving their mission, which is often critical to national security. Similarly, startups must be highly focused on their mission and vision, which should guide all of their decisions and actions. This requires a clear understanding of the company’s purpose and goals, as well as a strong sense of commitment to achieving them.
Startups can learn from special forces teams by adopting a mission-driven approach to their business. They should be clear about their purpose and goals, and ensure that all of their decisions and actions are aligned with these objectives.
Lesson 5: Train and prepare rigorously
Special forces teams undergo rigorous training and preparation in order to be able to perform their duties at the highest level. Similarly, startups must invest in training and preparation in order to build a strong and capable team, and to ensure that they are able to execute on their mission effectively.
Startups can learn from special forces teams by investing in training and development programs for their team members. This includes technical training, as well as leadership and management development. By investing in their team members’ skills and abilities, startups can ensure that they are well-prepared to succeed in a competitive and rapidly changing business environment.
In conclusion, startups can learn a great deal from special forces teams of armies around the world. By building a strong team, adapting quickly to changing environments, embracing risk and uncertainty, focusing on the mission, and training, Startups can achieve goals that may seem impossible at first.
Tips for Startups
Ways to Make Your Startup Hit the Ground Running
Few things are more exciting than being involved in a startup company. You feel as if there is nothing that this business cannot achieve and you are full of optimism. Of course, this excitement is likely to come with a lot of nerves and caution. There is no guarantee in the slightest that this business is going to succeed. However, you have to remain hopeful and positive.
Getting off to a good start is important for your new business. After all, there is a good chance you put a lot of money into this startup. So, you want to start trying to make that back as soon as you can. Hitting the ground running is essential for a new business. So, you should be trying to do everything you can to make that happen. If you need some advice on how to attain that, consider the following.
Team Building Before Opening
Teamwork is an essential part of any company, group, or organisation. Of course, when you are a new company, there is a good chance that you are all a group of strangers. Opening your doors on the first day with no sense of teamwork is going to end in disaster. This is why it is going to be good to start some team building well in advance of your opening date. This means that when it does come to the time to open your doors, you are all familiar with one another. Although team-building exercises can at times seem childish, they are going to help out a lot. When there is a sense of unity within your staff, this helps you to get through a tough opening period, as well as improves the start of your new journey.
Right Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy should come well in advance of your opening date. This helps to generate a lot more excitement for when that big opening day does come. Get active on social media and build up a following. Having countdowns to the big day might seem like a small thing to do. However, it is going to make it feel like a big occasion. Even when it comes to the likes of nonprofits, you are going to want to get people excited about your cause. Nonprofit fundraising software can help out with this massively. Having this sort of strategy is going to get people more engaged with your cause.
Plan an Opening Event
Hosting a launch gives your startup the opening that it deserves. Not to mention it gives your potential consumers something to look forward to. An opening event should feel like a big deal. After all, it is going to be the start of a new journey for you and your team. Having a DJ, food, deals, etc all give people a reason to come and check out your new company. This is also going to give an extra edge to your marketing, which is something you should strive for.
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