As a punk kid working for myself, I often ask myself "Hmm, self...how can I make more money, but do less work?" "Hmm, self...how can I contribute to the greater good by making people's lives easier?" For many people, the answer is to create a successful product. And while I still think my Hot Jacolate™ is a pivotal concept, I have a ways to go. Here are two product development tips I'd do well to keep in mind:
Design for yourself.Jason Fried, Founder & CEO of 37signals, described their product development process like this:
We start by designing software to solve our own problems. We scratch our own itch. We recognize our problems aren’t unique. Other people can benefit from the way we solve our problems. So we turn our software into products and put them into the marketplace.A good read on product development via "itch-scratching" is David Vinjamuri's Accidental Branding. He explains how entrepreneurs - including J. Peterman, Craig of Craigslist, and Gary Erickson, creator of the Clif bar - created incredibly successful products by solving their own problem first, and building on the solution. (Stay tuned for a legit review of this book.)
Fail, and fail fast.Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners (and officemates to 37signals), explains:
Not every idea is going to work. Know that going in. Ideas tend to follow the path of least resistance and more often than not that path is the one where you find yourself talking an idea to death, by getting hung up on the “what ifs.” So you need to actively push ideas out and embrace failure. Fail spectacularly whenever possible.For small businesses, shifting from client-work to a worthwhile product can mean the difference between running a hamster wheel and forward progression. The difference between maintaining and flourishing. And, as it turns out, the first step to that creative spark is to get annoyed. So, what's the pain in your day-to-day's can right now?