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Beware stealth mode companies when timing your market entry

Think you have a great idea for a new product? Chances are that someone else has it, too. How do you avoid squandering your market leadership position?

We meet with many entrepreneurs, most of whom think they have the next great invention.   Oftentimes it’s companies outside of the U.S. copying U.S. market leaders but tailoring the idea for their home countries. That’s a great short-term or small business strategy but difficult to expand beyond your borders with a “me too” product unless you’ve found a very successful niche.   Sometimes, a very rare sometimes, it’s really something novel that could be become a global market leader. As you work to come up with a winning concept, it’s good to keep in mind that, if you’re thinking about an idea, someone else is probably also thinking about that same idea.

So, what’s the best approach to get out of the gate before the competition? What mistakes should you avoid as you move strategically toward launching your product? Here are four common mistakes we see many entrepreneurs make on the road to launching:

1)      Not Having a Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Now that you have your idea, how quickly can you develop the minimum viable product to go to market? And when I say “minimum,” I mean a product that values user experience and performs well. If you overlook either of these critical elements, you risk crashing and burning—quickly.  Determining your MVP doesn’t mean you don’t have a product roadmap; it means that you’ve focused on the most critical features to secure demand from your early adopters.

2)      Spinning Your Wheels: If you’re focusing on the minutia instead of focusing on how quickly you can get to market, you need to rethink what you’re doing. In short, this is no time to spin your wheels. Speed matters in today’s lightning-fast marketplace. Don’t worry about incorporating every little feature or new idea that the team brings to the table. There’ll be time for that later, once you have a solidly performing, easy-to-use product to launch.

3)      Lacking Early Market Validation: If you don’t know if anyone will buy your product once you get it to market, we suggest you take a step back. To get validation, talk directly to your target customers. Then, look for experts who target a similar market but aren’t direct competitors. Industry analysts are another excellent source for market validation. They can provide feedback and will usually meet with companies at least once without charging a fee. They talk to companies in your space on a regular basis, as it’s their job to know the landscape. Their feedback can prove invaluable to tweaking your product as your prepare to go to market.

4)      Overlooking Competitors in “Stealth” Mode: While you’re busy getting your product ready to go to market, you need to keep your eyes open for competitors who are on the horizon. Although they may not have launched yet, they’re out there, lurking and ready to pounce on the same customer base you’ve targeted. Don’t make the mistake of keeping your head so far down that you aren’t aware of who else is coming up on your heels that may threaten the success of your business. On the other hand, don’t get so distracted by what perceived competitors may be doing that you fail to focus on what your goals are and your unique selling proposition. Your competitor’s strategy may not be the winning strategy.

Need help getting your product or idea ready to go to market? Contact Vision & Execution today to develop a strategic plan that will help you avoid the pitfalls along the path as you refine your product or service and move toward a successful launch or expansion.

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