How to Love That Product You're Developing -- Realistically
Successfully executing your idea requires staying faithful to your vision -- and taming that wandering eye.
Nothing quite compares to a parent’s love and admiration for a child.
From the day he’s born, everything that little cherub does is pure, unadulterated magic. Now, let’s pretend for a second that this child isn’t a child at all but a business. Do you think you’d feel the same?
Recent research by Human Brain Mapping magazine showed that entrepreneurs experience similar mental and emotional responses toward their businesses as parents do their children. This almost-blind reverence by young moguls, however, doesn’t mesh well with reality.
You see, the passion you feel for your product can amp up your urge to release it too quickly and then turn right around in search of the next shiny new thing -- and there will always be plenty of shiny new things.
An entrepreneur’s ideas are only as good as the execution surrounding them. Your heart and brain should work in tandem to keep your creative and entrepreneurial juices grounded and focused on one product, and one alone.
Staying faithful to your vision.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t push your product to market, but leaping into market before you look comes with consequences. For one, if you push a product to market after producing something else, you could find that your second product kills your first one. This is especially true if that first product is under-engineered or undersells the market.
That second product may also not fit into the bigger plan, brand or vision for your business. As an entrepreneur, you know it’s not just about the product; it’s about the vision and impact you’re trying to create in the world.
If you focus on too many products, you just compound the issue. Not only will you pull your team in multiple directions and increase the chances of mediocre results, but you will also become a jack of few trades instead of the king of one. While a funny anecdote, no doubt, it doesn’t make for a triumphant entrepreneur.
The uni-tasking entrepreneur.
This leaves us with a question: How exactly do you keep yourself from being distracted by all the shiny new objects and focus on the product at hand?
1. Fall in love with your product.
When I say fall in love with your product, I don’t mean a childlike infatuation. I’m talking deep adoration in which you wholeheartedly believe in what you’re about to bring to the marketplace. Steve Jobs believed that “people with passion can change the world for the better." If you don’t love your product, you’ll have nothing tangible from which to draw your confidence in order to execute on your vision.
Our company, for example, is a small startup that sprang out of a desire to help with infant jaundice. During our nearly three-year product development, we got branded as “newborn care experts.” This led to requests from a couple of universities and hospitals to develop solutions for other childhood syndromes.
We had to love our product more than these new possibilities -- each with a guaranteed market, no less. If we had taken our eye off the ball that late in the game, we’d never be up to the bigger challenge in front of us. In other words, fall in love with your product, not the idea of potential success.
2. Love the one you’re with.
It’s easy to get distracted by all the shiny objects you’ll find along the way. But if you let your eye wander to other products or opportunities, take it as a sign that you’re probably not all that passionate about your product -- or not as passionate as you should be.
While it’s tempting to branch out, it can also create confusion for you and your customers. Sheena Iyengar’s TED Talk on making choices made a great case for keeping options narrow. At Draeger’s Market, an upscale California grocery known for its wide selection, she and the manager ran an experiment about the number of options available leading to purchases. People were six times more likely to buy when confronted with fewer choices. More is not necessarily better -- and in many cases can be worse. Don’t let the allure of variety distract you from nurturing your passion.
Visualize that your product has already hit the market. Conjure up images of how cool and impactful it is, how it’s doing what you’d intended. By going to this dreamland, you can shake off the stresses of today, tap into that original passion for your product, and draw your focus back to the end goal of your business.
3. Don’t be blinded by love.
A downside comes with falling deeply and passionately in love with your product: You stop thinking about it with a rational mind. If you don’t put your brain and heart together, you’ll just get carried away and forget reality.
Nokia, for example, ran into some troubles after falling head over heels for phones. All it took was a company like Apple to crush the market, and the company was left with more than just a broken heart: It couldn’t think of doing anything else and sold its mobile phone business to focus on telecommunications infrastructure.
Take a more objective view of your product. It’ll help you sidestep your blind spot and ensure that your product is the best it can be. Once it’s on the market, you’ll always want some ideas for your next step. Think about your next move beyond making your original product successful.
Your business should always be the apple of your eye; no one is disputing that. But that love and adoration shouldn’t blind you from reality. Every good parent knows his kid has a few faults. It’s up to you to determine whether those faults will define your product’s future.
Vivek Kopparthi is the co-founder and CEO of NeoLight, an empathy-driven technology company primarily focused on lean medical devices for newborn care. With a background in electronic engineering, he and his team developed the world’s fastest, most powerful treatment for infant jaundice. As an entrepreneur, Kopparthi oversaw organizations of 100-plus employees, served as a startup advisor, and consulted for global corporations.