There seems to be a commonly held belief that to create a successful business one must develop a product first and then find the market. This, in my opinion, is backwards. Companies would do well to spend time talking to potential customers first and using the information and knowledge gathered to develop a product that they know will be of interest to or fulfill a need for their potential customers. Naturally, the product idea comes first, but before investing time, money, and resources into developing the product, answer the following key questions

•What features would or does a customer need and want? Often a feature that’s cool or impressive to an engineer or product developer means absolutely nothing to a customer.

•What specific benefits does a customer want a new product to include? If the product you build doesn’t benefit customers or make their lives easier, it won’t sell.

•What market research is relevant to your intended market? Are there other similar products out there, and if so how will you differentiate your product from the competition? Additionally, will your new product fill a specific need or are people calling for your new product? If there’s no need or your product doesn’t fill a void, it’s probably best not to invest in it.

Once you can answer these questions, an educated decision can be made regarding the potential need for your product and the potential sales opportunities it might provide. The ability to answer these questions will also save you time, money, and resources as well as demonstrate to your potential customers that your priority is more than just making money.

Alan Hall Founder and Chairman MarketStar Ogden, Utah

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