Every entrepreneur has fantasized about becoming the next Steve Jobs. After all, Apple has practically dominated the smartphone industry, at least among the higher-income bracket. It’s a brand name that is recognized throughout the world, seemingly requiring little to no advertising, especially among its loyal followers; millions of people purchase a new Apple device every year, despite its relatively expensive price tag. The main reason Apple is a trusted brand is because it continues to produce quality designs with each new addition to its product lineup.
Unfortunately, beginning entrepreneurs might be misled into thinking that quality is all that matters. Many businesses have failed because their owners have cloistered themselves in their offices in order to come up with outstanding product designs, all the while ignoring the outside world. There really is no such thing as a product that sells itself. When an item gains this kind of reputation, it is usually the end result of months or years of aggressive marketing. What seems effortless is actually completely engineered; it is like the audience marveling at the ease of a concert pianist without knowing how much hard work went into rehearsals behind the scenes.
In order to develop a “product that sells itself”, you will need to do the following:
Step 1: Anticipate a future demand and supply it
Traditional entrepreneurs supply current demand. A grocery store, for example, delivers food to hungry customers. Modern entrepreneurs, however, must create future demand. This means anticipating a consumer need before it even exists. All companies that are now household brands have done this. For example, the concept of downloadable “apps” is an ingenious idea that did not have an impetus other than the brilliance of its creator; there was never a public outcry to have “apps” on the mobile phone. Society wouldn’t even have noticed had “apps” not been introduced. It was only after the idea had been incorporated that many people suddenly realized that they couldn’t live without them.
By anticipating a future demand and supplying it, you will have managed to corner an untested slice of the market and basically have ensured a complete monopoly of that sector. Sure, others will eventually jump onto the bandwagon and copy your success, but for the first crucial months or years, you’ve got a head start on everyone. This will allow you to become the dominant brand in that sector and practically impossible to shake off – such as Microsoft Windows. Many trademarks became “genericized” because they were the only ones selling their unique services at the time.
Step 2: Feel the customer’s pulse
Closely related to the step above is getting to know what the public wants. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs often think that their own desires mirror society’s desires. A business owner could spend years and thousands of dollars manufacturing a device that automatically plants seeds in a garden, only to realize that the majority of gardeners would rather do it by hand. The Segway is a good example of an excellent product that no one wants. If you really wish to identify a marketable niche, you would need to find out what your demographic needs.
One way to do this is through marketing. Advertising needs to be specifically calibrated to appeal to a particular group, and the statistics gained from testing different kinds of sales strategies can go a long way towards finding out what the consumers desire. Another strategy would be to scour message boards and forums on the Internet where people often air their grievances. Finally, a good one-to-one conversation with potential clients is still helpful today, despite the dominance of social media. Tons of ideas can be gleaned from these three tactics alone.
Step 3: Push forward with your idea despite resistance
When asked whether he consulted his customers prior to manufacturing the automobile, Henry Ford remarked, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
The truth is that genius is often unrecognized, even ridiculed, until it can no longer be ignored. No one ever welcomes a prophet, so be mentally prepared to face tough criticisms from everyone on the road to commercial success. Bill Gates no doubt had to face both external and internal doubts when he dropped out of Harvard in order to start a somewhat dubious endeavor in the nascent market of personal computers. It is only now that people look back and marvel at the unshakable tenacity that must have fueled his desire to capitalize on the industry.
Resistance towards a person pushing the boundaries of life will always be a fact. Rather than avoid it, you must embrace it. If enough people tell you that you will never succeed, take it as a sure sign that you are moving inexorably towards your goal.
The age of the underdog
Entrepreneurship has always been the avenue where the little guy shines. Because of the present freedom that comes with starting and owning a business, many downtrodden workers who had always considered quitting their jobs and becoming their own bosses now have a means to do it.
Failure is a constant risk. That is why it’s important to think ahead before you plunge into this venture. Nothing, though, ever compares to the feeling of seeing your business thrive. Whether or not the product sells itself, success is always a breakthrough.