To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must develop the ability to select and offer the right products or services to your customers in a competitive market. More than any other factor, your ability to make this choice will determine your success or failure.
Fully 80 percent of the products and services being consumed today are different from those that were being consumed five years ago. And five years from today, fully 80 percent of the products being used will be new and different from those being used today.
There are thousands of products and services available to consumers today. And there are unlimited opportunities for you to enter the marketplace and compete effectively with a new product or service that's better in some way than what's already being offered by your competitors. Remember, your skill at choosing that product or service is critical to your success.
The most important thing you can do before deciding what to sell is to think. And the more you think about a product or service before you bring it to market, the better your decisions will be.
So how do you start? To make a product successful, you must be personally and emotionally committed to its success. Once you've got a product or service in mind, you need to begin with a self-analysis:
- What kinds of products do you like, enjoy, consume and benefit from?
- Do you like the product or service you're planning to sell?
- Can you see yourself getting excited about this product or service?
- Would you buy it and use it yourself?
- Would you sell it to your mother, your best friend, your next-door neighbor?
- Can you see yourself selling this product or service for the next five to 10 years?
- Is this a product or service that you intensely desire to bring to the marketplace?
Then analyze the product or service from the customer's point of view:
- What does the product achieve, avoid or preserve for the customer?
- How does the product improve your customer's life or work?
- What kind of customers will you be selling the product to?
- Do you personally like the customers who'll be buying this product or service?
Imagine that you've hired a management consultant to get advice on introducing this new product or service. They're going to cut right to the chase and ask you these very objective, bottom-line questions about the product:
- Is there a real demand for the product at the price you'll have to charge?
- Is the demand large enough for you to make a profit?
- Is the demand concentrated enough so you can advertise, sell and deliver the product at a reasonable expense?
Dig even deeper into the potential success of your product or service by determining the answer to the following critical questions:
- What is to be sold, exactly? Describe the product in terms of what it does for the customer.
- To whom is the product going to be sold? Describe your ideal customer.
- What price will you have to charge for the product for it to be profitable?
- Who's going to sell the product?
- How is the product to be sold? What method of sales, or process of promotion, will you use?
- How is the product or service to be manufactured or produced?
- How is the product going to be paid for and by whom?
- How is the product or service going to be delivered to the customer?
- How is it going to be serviced, repaired, guaranteed or replaced?
And you're not done yet. There are a series of additional questions you need to ask before you make a final decision on a new product or service offering.
- Is there a real need for the product or service in today's market?
- Is your new product or service better than anything else currently available?
- What are the three ways that your product is superior to your competition?
- Is your product lower priced or of better quality than anything else that is available?
- Do you think you could become the number-one supplier in the market for this product or service?
For a product or service to succeed, it must be the right product, being sold at the right time, to the right customer, in the right market. It must be produced and sold by the right company, and the right people. What you have to decide is this: Is this product right for you?
Brian Tracy is the "Success Secrets" coach at Entrepreneur.com and one of America's leading authorities on entrepreneurial development. He's produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs that cover the entire spectrum of human and corporate performance.