There’s a crack team of business strategy experts at Google who parachute in and help businesses make decisions on how to grow their product or service.
The team, Google Ventures, does this through a five-day ‘Sprint’where they work with owners to figure out how to take a new idea tomarket without wasting a load of time and money.
Monday to Friday, problem to solution
A week of pain for all that gain – it’s got to be worth a try. Thegenius aspect of the Sprint is that the Google guys don’t wait untilthere are ‘real’ things to test on customers. Instead they just make aquick model. It’s put in front of customers and their feedback is thenused to make the real product or service something customers actuallywant.
You don’t have to be an online business to take advantage of this five day Sprint. The approach can be appliedto any business with a problem to solve or decision to make.
Got an idea? Then run with it!
Instead of storing up good ideas but never making time to put theminto action, a Sprint forces you to focus. Say you run a cake stall atthe local market. It’s been going well and you sell out of most of yourstock. You need to introduce some new products but you’re not surewhether to go sweet or savoury; which flavours will sell best? Is there a demand for gluten-free products? And how will you manage the increasedworkload?
You could spend weeks or months mulling this over, asking for opinions, doing a bit of research. Or you could Sprint.
Here’s how it works…
If the business is just you, try and recruit a few people who’ve been along for the ride. It’s important to get input during the Sprint fromsomeone who has experience of using your product or service.
Put yourself under pressure by arranging to get feedback fromcustomers at the end of the week. For the cake stall you might want tocreate a short survey for customers, have samples of new products forthem to vote on, or direct them to your social media pages to shareopinions.
Find your sweet spot by focusing on one goal
Keep your mind and your options open by wondering ‘how might we…?’.The baker might be wondering ‘how might we’ get each customer to spendmore at our stall?
Monday: Time to dig deep. Break down everything you already know about your business/product/service. This is where you:
- Look at what your competitors are up to
- See where the opportunities are in your market
- Decide how you measure success
- Experience your business like a customer would.
Tuesday: Get creative. Sketch solutions, pop ideason Post-it Notes, doodle your thoughts. If you come up with more thanone way to solve your problem, that’s a good thing. Now you can reallyconsider your options instead of just going with the first solution youthink of.
Wednesday: Your best solutions should be starting to emerge. Develop your top two or three ideas in more detail by goingthrough how it would work step-by-step. So for the baker this couldinclude working out ingredient costs, storage, retail price.
Thursday: Create something you can test on customers – without doing all the work. For our baker this might mean making amenu featuring the new products, or having descriptions and prices forthe new flavours.
Friday: Time to test. Ask your friends, family,customers and potential customers to give feedback on your new offering. For the baker this could include asking: Do you like the new range?What do you think of the prices? How many would you buy? What do youthink of the packaging?
If it’s a positive response – great, press on. If not, use thefeedback to refine your idea. For example, if customers think yourproduct is too expensive you might need to look at how you can reduceyour overheads. But isn’t it better to know that now, before youinvested time and money in launching your new product range?
Whatever approach you decide to take, remember the Google mantra: done is better than perfect. The sooner you can get something, anything, in front of people, the sooneryou can find out if it’s a winner and start making money from it.
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