February '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 29 of 108

Learning to be successful There are two key assumptions entrepreneurs must make while learning what their vision should be: the value hypothesis and the growth hypothesis. The value hypothesis tests whether a product or service really delivers meaningful benefits to customers once they are using it. Experimentation is one of the best ways to accurately gauge that value. For the growth hypothesis, which tests how new customers will discover a product or service, one can do a similar analysis. Often, these experiments require enlisting early adopters, aka those individuals with a strong pioneering spirit to be the first to try out something new. These people are a special breed of customer because they accept an 80 percent solution; you don't need a perfect solution to capture their interest. Early adopters use imagination to fill in what a product is missing or what needs to be modified. Therefore, all that is needed initially is a minimum viable product (MVP). MVPs range in complexity from just describing the idea, to producing early prototypes complete with problems and missing features. Most entrepreneurs and product development people dramatically overestimate how many features are required in an MVP. When in doubt, simplify. Ask yourself these three important learning questions often: •What should we develop and for whom? •What market can we enter and dominate? •How can we build durable value that will not be subject to erosion by competition? "What do I have to lose?" For many industries, patents and copyrights are used for defensive purposes as a deterrent to hold competitors at bay. In such cases, the patent infringement risks of an MVP are minor compared with the learning benefits. Nonetheless, entrepreneurs should seek legal counsel to ensure that they fully understand the risks regarding copyright laws. The most common objection expressed by startup entrepreneurs about the early debut of an MVP is the fear that competitors, especially large established companies, will steal an idea. If only it were so easy! The truth is that most product development managers at competitive companies are already overwhelmed with their own evolving ideas, leaving them little time to steal yours. If a competitor can out-execute a startup once an idea is made known, the startup is doomed anyway. Pivot away from that line of thinking, and persevere toward the fruits of a new endeavor. Good luck! pw Use Info # 67 2013 February Printwear PW_FEB13.indd 25 | 25 1/17/13 4:25 PM

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