So many experts want to tell you how to build your business, but product creation is just a line item on their massive list of business bells and whistles. But HOW do you actually get from where you are right now to having built a powerful, successful product?
Today we are going to talk about the “how.”
Most people assume when they go out to build a product, that it’s a step-by-step process. Like a five paragraph essay on an AP test—you write the introduction, state your thesis, give three supporting points, conclude by coming back to the introduction, and BOOM you’re done.
The trouble is, creating a compelling, useful, eminently purchasable product is more complex than that, especially if you are building a long-duration, high-ticket price product. By reducing the development process to something so formulaic, you find that you are creating in a vacuum—turning the crank until it’s done without any feedback mechanism.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t create programs in a vacuum. Get feedback all along the way.” username=””]
At the same time, it’s easy to get so caught up in the bigness of your product’s potential that you stumble over perfectionism and scale—”Well, when I have 1,000 participants, I’ll need to handle all of that volume!”—before you are anywhere near those numbers.
How do you beat the perfectionism demon, rein in your project scope, and drive revenue *while* you are still creating your ultimate vision?
Allow your product development process to be iterative.
What does that mean? Iteration is defined as “a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result” (Miriam-Webster). Instead of assuming you are going to build your product from beginning to end in one straight line and then it will be finished forever, amen, take a different approach. Start from where you are. Repeat the creative process, allowing yourself to get closer to your desired result each time.
You purchase iteratively designed products all the time. Take a look at Microsoft Windows. There have been somewhere between 10 and 26 versions of the Windows operating system, depending on how you count. Here’s what happens in the Windows development process: the engineers and developers at Microsoft build a product commensurate with the computing power and capability available at the time. They don’t worry too much about minor bugs—they can always fix them later with a patch or in the next version. They don’t worry too much about accommodating features that users might want in future versions—they get a version out the door that meets user needs NOW. And while they are developing the next version, they can create sales and drive revenue on the current version, all while building their brand.
[bctt tweet=”Develop products like Microsoft—by tweaking and adjusting along the way.” username=””]
Your product is no different, whether it’s a course or a live retreat or big service package. Using an iterative, repeating creative process helps you:
- Get user feedback on your product and collect social proof
- Incorporate lessons learned
- Release incremental versions of the product that you can start selling right away, and keep selling while you develop the next version
- Take the pressure off to produce something perfect or all-encompassing, because you know you can improve it next time around.
- Grow as a business owner and product creator.
So now you are convinced that an iterative product development approach is the way to go. Great. Now how, precisely, do you go about doing that?
Well, let’s run through an example. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to produce a high-price-point, information-dense, passive, drip-style course. But sitting down to map out what that looks like is overwhelming when you are starting from scratch, and you get stuck in the weeds of the details pretty quickly. Not to mention, wanting to create a perfect course that is worthy of that big price tag has you sweating. You figure it’s going to take you about a year to generate all of this content, and it doesn’t seem practical to crawl in a hole for a year while you create, leaving your audience in the dark.
How could you produce the course in an iterative way to take that pressure off, involve your audience, and generate revenue along the way?
[bctt tweet=”When you allow your development process to be iterative, you increase the chances of success.” username=””]
Run through the basic idea of the course content as a private service offering. Depending on how much content there is, decide how long this will take—a day? a week? four sessions spread out over a month? Run this private service offering for 5-20 people. Perhaps you will offer it at a low price point for beta testers (and generate some revenue right off the bat).
By the time you have served a few handfuls of people with a similar process, you will start to see how the process can be standardized. You will see the places where everyone is different and will need to tailor the experience to their own situation. You will be able to start to create content that can be consumed without your direct interaction.
Meanwhile, you’ve asked this first round of clients for feedback and testimonials. And you now have a private service offering that you can continue to offer while you develop the course.
You’ve been able to standardize your process into sequential course content, but you want to make sure that the course content covers everything and is easy to follow. You also aren’t quite ready to take your hands completely off the wheel and release it as a passive, drip-style course.
So in Iteration 2, get a group together, and walk the participants through the course material as a group program. Lower the price to a beta test rate, or offer some sweet exclusive bonuses (like a private session with you!) that not only deliver more value to them, but help you get even more insight into the process from the participant’s point of view. Or, since this is a group program with lots of high touch from YOU, you can even consider raising the price from the final product!
At the end of this iteration, you’ll feel rock solid about offering the course as a passive product, but still commanding that high price point. Oh and yeah—you’ve brought in another chunk of revenue by offering this group version of the program.
And now you have it. You feel super confident about your course content. Your participants have given you amazing testimonials so that you can write a mind-blowing, wallet-opening sales page. You have not only generated revenue during each iteration, but you have added a couple of awesome service offerings to your menu along the way.
In this final iteration, you make the final tweaks to deliver your course as the passive, money-making machine that you hoped it would be, and you have an army of loyal fans ready to promote your product.
So no, don’t create in a vacuum—bring your clients along with you on the product development journey. And yes, SHIP—but do so with the confidence that it’s all part of the process. That you’ll be back around to refine and improve your product again soon.
Allow your work to be iterative for the ultimate in flexibility, sustainability, and revenue generation.
Amy Simpkins is a business coach, international speaker, and vision architect. As an MIT-trained rocket scientist, she architected complex missions to outer space. Now she’s applying that proven design methodology and big-picture mindset infused with intuition and magic to help entrepreneurs create fulfilling, high-impact businesses. She combines data with intuition, left-brain logic with right-brain creativity, art with engineering, process with play.
Amy is the anti-12-step-program. She guides you with action, focus, and structure, in a way that serves YOU best – your personality, your desires, and your energy. She is the torchbearer to show you the path that’s already laid out in your heart — walking that path is the reason you are on this planet. You were born for this. Connect with Amy on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.