Product development is something I have a lot of experience in. I have gone through this with stress, frustration, hope and exhaustion. I have developed products for myself, for others and in partnership. The products I have developed have been both physical and non physical (e.g. Software and Web based products).
Products can be developed for a few reasons
- To solve an existing or potential problem
- To on sell and make profit
Products we create to on sell and make a profit, we find very difficult to achieve to goal of making a good profit in a timely manner. However, it is this product that leads to the hopeful “pot of gold”. So if you are looking at developing a product – here is a check list of things to do FIRST.
- Check your product concept out, with the market. This could be done in a range of ways, e.g. Market research by a company, or by yourself. Check out potential competitors – and really look into this. So often you start and think you have No competition, but later you find that in fact you have heaps of competition. For example, our Ezymeetz, we reviewed the market place before beginning, found that there was a definite niche and need, and no one had a product that did not affect the computer registry and could run without specific hardware. So we had an edge – but was this enough – No.
- Plan, with a living plan. So have a budget, time, marketing and sales plan. Make sure you stay on top and don’t just put this plan in the cupboard – keep it in front of you. This is much easier than it sounds. Ezymeetz has had to go through so many upgrades to hit all the market needs, that the plan has adjusted so much, it does not look anything like the initial plan.
- Marketing and Sales are not the same thing. Whilst one needs to have marketing and it is totally essential with a new product. One still needs sales to support the marketing and to get the product out there. This may even mean giving away free sites.
- Be Logical – there is a time to quit and a time to keep pushing. Be clear to yourself where you are, and what you are prepared to do, to get the product out. Over the years, I have developed a few products but from each failure, I have learnt. I have learnt how to do this in a leaner way. I have learnt about marketing. In fact I have enjoyed the journey, but in the end, this is a business and one needs to be logical about it. I have seen people lose their family, their homes, and even their lives over a product. Keep perspective. Have pointers and rules. Know your own limits.
- Don’t be afraid of Success. So often people fail because they are afraid to succeed. So don’t be afraid of success, and remember to win the war you have to win many battles. This is also part of product development.
- Hurdles can be opportunities. I have invested a lot of time and money in a product called the Virtual Gym, then the GFC hit. Discretionary spending was lost. Businesses were afraid to invest. So did I give up, no, I took this as an opportunity. I realised that even though discretionary spending was done, businesses in general needed a better and more economic way to run their businesses, and the Virtual Portal we had developed was a prospective solution. So we prepared and began Ezymeetz. We also found that our Government would give support to us, for the R and D we had done in this amazing new technology.
- Balance. As some product development is long term – you need to keep all areas of your life in balance and perspective. It is no good to achieve the goal of a great successful product, and reap the financial and emotional success if you can’t enjoy it due to other problems.
So if you are a budding entrepreneur, consider these points, and I hope it saves you some of the learning curve I have gone through.
Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.