The launch of something new is one of the most thrilling moments for entrepreneurs and future-focused companies. A new product or service introduction can dramatically change a company—and the marketplace. But before you risk investing significant time and effort developing a new product or service, you need to step back and take a hard look at your company’s strengths and resources.
Here are four things to consider before committing to developing a new product or service.
1. Do you have what it takes?
Whether you are creating a physical item or a service, you need to assess your internal resources. Even the best ideas will flounder if your team lacks the skill set to pull it off.
So step back and ask: What are your company’s core competencies? Are there lessons learned from previous successful launches that you can build on? Does your team have the experience and expertise to execute on this new idea? If not, is there another way you could acquire the internal resources to pull this off?
2. Do you have stakeholder support?
Without significant internal buy-in for a new product or service, you’ll lack the support needed to be successful. Before you commit to move forward, take the temperature of your team: Do all the internal stakeholders (e.g., executives, finance, HR, IT) support the idea? Is this new idea in line with your company’s culture and the way to get there aligned with your key leaders?
If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’re in a good position to move forward. If not, you’ll either need to scrap the idea—or figure out how to enlist the help of internal champions in building the cross-functional alignment needed to bring this idea to fruition.
3. Does your idea solve a real-world problem?
It’s not enough to have an interesting or innovative idea for a new product or service. To succeed, you need to offer an innovation that solves a well-understood problem that customers or other businesses are facing. Otherwise, there won’t be a sufficient market for your product. If your product is a market maker (E.g., iPod, microwave) then ensure that your product management strategy is well-laid out.
Be honest: Is there a clear business or individual need that your product or service would solve? If not, you should focus your efforts elsewhere.
4. Don’t decide too soon
While it’s tempting to want to make decisions quickly, this isn’t in the best interest of your company. Moving forward before you’re ready can spell disaster for an otherwise good idea. Conversely, scrapping a good idea completely because you’re simply not quite ready can lead to a missed opportunity.
So be sure to dedicate sufficient time to the collection process. If you know you have the internal resources to bring this idea to life, it’s best to wait until you have internal alignment and a very clear problem statement and the alignment to move ahead.
That said, if you’re not quite there yet, don’t give up too easily. If you lack alignment, are there ways you can build support with your key leaders? If you aren’t quite clear on the problem your product or service would solve, could you tweak what you’re developing to make it more relevant to your target market.
Succeeding with a new launch requires more than just a good idea. You need to be solving a problem that the market needs solved, you need to have the internal resources to build a solution, and you need a high level of organizational commitment to the project. If you can step back and make sure you have all that before you press “Go”, you will greatly increase your chances of success.
Guest blogger Lawrence I Lerner is a corporate entrepreneur with a keen eye for market relevance who envisions and builds digital products and services across the globe. An early interest in taking apart complex problems honed his multi-disciplined solution approach. He’s launched more than a dozen $10MM+ corporate products across industries (Retail, High-tech, Media and Entertainment, and IT services). With a passion for growth and transformation, his expertise is in Payment Solutions, Strategy, Enterprise Architecture, Big Data, Mobile/Social Media, IT security and Product Marketing. While successfully creating businesses on three continents, Lawrence served as a change leader as an executive and on public/private boards. He has created $100MM business lines and launched a new product/service for some of the world’s top brands (Motorola, Catalina Marketing, Macrovision, DHL, Debenhams). Over the past 20 years, he’s helped launch eight early stage companies.