6 Ways to Guarantee Every New Idea Is a Winner

You sweat and toil and create new products and services that you just know that market is dying to get their hands on.

You put it out, a few sales trickle in and then, nothing. You tweak the sales page, lower the price, kick the cat and still, nothing.
Creating new product and service offerings, even those that the market should need and want, is always a bit of a guessing game. Even when you employ some market research you can’t be sure how a prospect or customer will embrace something until it’s live and in the wild.
There is a model for product and service development that can help you forgo the pain and agony of the total flop and even turn what starts as an okay idea into a sure winner.
The best way to guarantee that your new offerings succeed is to develop them with your customers instead of simply for your customers.
Instead of creating something and then turning to the market to see if they like it, you tap your community to help you build it the way they want it and the way they will buy it.
Here’s how the Community Build process works.
Let’s say you want to create a new online training course.

  1. You create the seed of an idea with little more than an outline and you take it to a handful of customers and ask them what they think.
  2. You take their input and develop a full-blown course layout and a first draft of the positioning for selling the program.
  3. Then you take what you’ve developed and have a larger group from your community comment on exactly what they would hope to learn and how they would get the best results from a program like this.
  4. From that research you develop the main workings of the program and allow some small controlled group of community members to enlist as alpha testers. (It’s free, but they have to agree to help make it better.)
  5. You measure and gauge all manner of things from the alpha testers including UI, logic, flow, content, value, results and overall benefits derived from the program in order to more fully develop a platform for beta testers. (Again, it’s free but they agree to help with more input and typo alerts.)
  6. The collective collaboration effort should help you create a program that makes sense, delivers value and is packaged the way your market wants it. Of course it’s just as likely that along the way you’ll discover there is no market for what you’re trying to create, but that’s an equally awesome finding if you think about it.

Now of course you’ve still got to market the thing, but all this community involvement will quite likely also help you turn up lots of comments, suggestions and feedback that will inform and create a very strong value proposition as well.
One of the best examples of taking this thinking to an extreme is t-shirt printer Threadless. Their Community Build model is the entire business. Community members submit t-shirt designs, community members vote on the designs for the week and then Threadless produces what is ultimately already a guaranteed winner and sells it to their community of over 2 million members.
A large number of their employees come from their community and continue to participate in the community build process even as they pack and ship product in the warehouse, allowing the community participation process to come full circle.
Yes this process takes more time, but ultimately it will ensure that you’re not trying to build things the market doesn’t want and your good offerings will turn into great offerings with real community input.
Some of what I’ve describe here is just basic common sense and good customer focused development, but it’s amazing how few organizations, big and small, use this powerful development process.


5 Ways How to Get Out of Limbo and Go From Dream to Decision

“We get stuck between two choices when we have a desire to do something, but the fears – fear of the unknown, risk, failure, success – keep us stuck and unable to move forward,” says Larina Kase, a cognitive-behavioural psychologist and author of The Confident Leader (McGraw-Hill, 2008) “The heart and the head are in conflict.”

Most of us revert to listing pros and cons, but the exercise rarely helps. “We continue to be stuck because the pros and cons for each choice are roughly equal or because there are too many variables,” Kase says. “There are so many considerations on both sides that it can become paralysing.”

To get unstuck and finally make a firm decision, consider these five steps:

1. Uncover your hidden fears.
To move forward, you must first understand what exactly you fear. “It is unique to everyone,” Kase says. “It often requires digging below the initial fear, which is typically something like, ‘What if I’m not successful?’” To dig deeper, ask yourself, what would happen if that fear came true? What would you lose or jeopardise? Your answers will help make the fear more specific to you.

“Be on the lookout for a mood shift,” says Kase, noting that emotional cues can serve as a guide. “As soon as you notice yourself feeling uneasy, unsettled, or uncomfortable, ask yourself, ‘What thought just went through my mind?’” That thought is triggering anxiety, so it’s likely rooted in fear.

2. Keep anxiety in perspective.
Often, we imagine the consequences of our fears will be extreme. We think, ‘I will never be a good leader if I’m terrified of public speaking,’ or, ‘I will lose all respect from my peers if my business fails.’ The reality is never so black and white.

“We reduce anxiety by challenging negative thoughts,” Kase says. When you notice a fearful thought, think of a time when the opposite was true, or ask yourself if there is any reason to doubt that assertion. The goal is to see that your negative belief about what will happen is not absolutely certain, or even likely – even if it feels that way right now.

3. Do what you fear in small doses.
Testing your fears is the most powerful way to overcome them. Start by trying activities that give you some anxiety but not too much. For example, people who worry that others will judge their failures might take a dance class, if they have two left feet. “Gradual exposure builds confidence and shows us that the feared consequence is unlikely to come true,” Kase says.

4. Commit for one hour.
Another way to get closer to a decision is to imagine you’ve already made one. Spend one hour pretending as though you’ve committed to one option. Do a minor task toward your goal and notice thoughts or feelings that come up as you play the role.

“Remember that most people are happiest with choices where they went with their gut rather than when they talk themselves into something that looks good on paper but doesn’t resonate on a deeper level,” Kase says. If your gut tells you to do it, that’s a sign.

5. Trust that you know what to do.
If you’re doing endless research to find the “right” choice, give it a rest. “Paradoxically, when making more complex choices, we do better when we go with our gut instincts, rather than weighing all the variables,” Kase says. Your intuition unconsciously takes into account all the information available to you, including your values and goals, and is likely to guide you to the best choice.

If you’ve lost touch with your instincts, give yourself space to find them. Take a walk, get a spa treatment, or play basketball with your friends – whatever you find relaxing and enjoyable. “You may find that rather than trying to chase down the decision, it comes to you,” Kase says. If you listen to your gut, you will make a much better choice.