Achieving Product/Market Fit For Your Small Business Startup
Chapter Chair/President, SCORE in Houston
For any startup to succeed, achieving product/market fit is among the most vital of goals. But verifying that your product meets a strong market need and can stand up to competitors is not an exact science, nor does it typically happen in one grand a-ha moment. Likewise, building momentum in a market requires patience and comes with no guarantees as customers’ needs, regulatory landscapes, and competitive pressures change over time.
“Consider that your business will only succeed if it adds real value for the user. In this case ‘value’ means that businesses or individuals will understand they need or want it enough to pay you a price that will give you profit and success,” advises SCORE mentor Bob Goedjen. “Start by understanding your target market’s need and then whether you will be a better solution than your competition.”
Despite the uncertainty and risk you face when starting a business, there are some actions you can take to increase your success in accomplishing product/market fit:
Do your homework to understand your customers’ current needs and anticipate what they’ll need in the future. Research your target demographic by spending time with prospective customers, read industry blogs and print publications, attend industry tradeshows and webinars, and seek out a professional in your industry who might serve as a mentor to you as you develop your products and services.
Focus on one primary and critical value proposition. It’s impossible to be all things to all customers. By homing in on what’s most important to your target customers, analyzing significant trends in your industry, and identifying where competitors are falling short in solving customers’ problems, you can deliver value out of the gate. If you’re solving a pain point for your customers from the start, they will be more patient in waiting for you to add other features and options.
Listen. Learn. Adapt.
Have a business plan, but be open to change as you listen to feedback and ideas from your early customers. Learn from what they’re telling you can improve your products or services. And be prepared to adapt your systems and processes to make your business more viable and sustainable.
According to Goedjen, “Good planning and research will pay off in money/costs avoided and a far better marketing strategy and tactics that will resound in your customers’ minds. It is not ‘how’ you bring your product or service but rather what the benefits are in the language the customer understands.”
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.