Determining products and services for solopreneurs and e-businesses is often fun but can also be a little unnerving. After all, your products and services represent what you are going to be spending your time on. They are a reflection of you.
Determining products and services is also kind of like shopping. You will select from the all of the millions of objects, ideas and activities that are on offer in our big, wide world. It’s an exciting opportunity to direct your life towards the shiny objects you prefer. You decide. So, go on, pick and choose. The world is your oyster!
Another way to think about determining your products and services is choosing a creative process in which you come up with a new product or slant that has never been seen. People will argue that there’s nothing new under the sun, but the way you develop and deliver a service or product will be unique to you.
Take time for mind-mapping, brainstorming, meditating and discussing your ideas with friends. Enjoy the process!
Determining products and services is not, for most solopreneurs, a static experience. Instead, the process is a dynamic (changing) one in which your ideas and, of course, your products and services evolve as you do.
As solopreneurs, you learn about yourself and the business world all the time. E-businesses and the climate around them change all the time as well. It is important to be flexible and know when to stick with an idea and when to call it quits and move on to the next thing.
It’s Not About You
Although you are in charge, determining products and services is not actually about you. In fact, when you offer a service, you are doing just that: offering. You probably want to offer gifts people actually want. That principle is just as important when you are selling a product or service. When you think of selling as offering, you can bring more love to the process, which is good for you, potential customers and the larger everyone.
Let figuring out what the customer or client wants be a game. Enjoy putting yourself in someone’s shoes and understanding what motivates them. Then provide something truly valuable that can make a difference in their lives.
The COLIBRI Example
COLIBRI is in the process of purchasing an e-commerce site selling products related to yoga, ayurveda and meditation. This is a topic near and dear to COLIBRI’s heart and so, for example, she could try to sell her favorite yoga mats online and that would be great–if other people like them, too.
The point is not that everyone use COLIBRI’s favorite mat. The point is that people have the supplies they need to establish (or maintain) a yoga, ayurveda or meditation practice. It’s COLIBRI’s job to support her future customers in purchasing what works for them.
Why? Because it’s not about COLIBRI, it’s about her customers.
Is Your Product or Service Viable?
Viable means, will your product or service work in the real world?
We talked about ways (see above) to vision and develop ideas for products and services but, as with anything related to sales and marketing, there is a science to the art of determining products and services.
Product research: Take a good look at your product. If, like COLIBRI, you are selling yoga mats, you will need to find out all about the mats you are selling and whether anyone wants to buy them.
What if it turns out that you want to sell a new line of paint, but the paint contains lead, which is illegal in California. You need to know!
You also need to know whether anyone wants to buy paint. Maybe the hottest new trend is wallpaper. You need to know!
Competitive analysis: Taking the paint example, find out how many other companies sell paint. At the very least, Google paint and find out what comes up. You need to know!
Persona: It’s important to have a specific group of people you are working for, even if you never get to meet them. That is why you will create a persona. This will help you visualize who your customer is and make decisions based on what they want.
Have fun determining your products and services. Never be afraid to change your product and service mix as you grow and conditions around you change. Finally, and very important, do the research it will take to help you feel confident and successful as you decide what you want to offer.
Okay, your turn! Do you have any advice to offer solopreneurs as they determine their products and services?
Kurtus, Ron. Determining Viability of Your Product or Service. School for Champions. March 24, 2009.
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