Why Your Startup Needs to Build the Product Your Customers Aren’t Expecting

Five steps to selling innovation and avoiding the status-quo death trap

Image from Adobe Stock

What do I mean by status-quo death trap?

We entrepreneurs start a business to innovate and change and disrupt, but somewhere along the way we realize we’ve started cloning the incumbents. We want to build Teslas, but almost every customer on the planet is buying a Toyota. So we end up leaning into those customer expectations and churning out an awful Tesla/Toyota hybrid.

Step 1: Build around the solution, not the product

Even if you’re not telling people that your product is “Tik Tok for Boomers,” you’re probably thinking it. But you should think like that. Every startup needs to make connections from the lofty and vague ideals of innovation to the real world of use cases and revenue. Otherwise your product will just end up being a lab experiment forever.

Step 2: Position properly, then kill all the buzzwords

You don’t need a master class in product positioning to position your product properly. It starts with this statement: Don’t be the future of the X industry, be the first company in the Y industry.

Step 3: Get your customers to understand that different is better

Instead of trying to one-up your incumbents, put all your time into changing the customer’s behavior.

Step 4: Build the bridge between the past and the future

Every innovative startup begins life targeting the 2% of the market that is the most forward thinking. But in order for that startup to scale, it needs to build a bridge to the other 98% of the market and push those customers into the future.

Step 5: Always look for new value in your solution, not from your competition

Avoid competitive instinct as incumbents lean in to the status quo to keep their customers by defending the old solution.

I’m a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. Sold ExitEvent. Building TeachingStartup.com & GetSpiffy. Former Automated Insights. More info at joeprocopio.com

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