Overview

Welcome to the Founders Handbook! I am glad you have chosen to use this handbook.

I am Ishwar Jha, Founder of Appetals, InternDesk, MockRabbit, and Stomper. Previously, I led the technology business opportunities at Zee Entertainment as a CEO/Head of Digital Services and CIO of Sony Music.

As a practicing entrepreneur myself I devote my time between growing my own business in Mumbai, India and interacting with entrepreneurs through my training, workshop and mentoring to help them start, scale and leverage their geniuses to raise their odds of success.

I achieve these results based on over 25 years of building 100s of products, starting up and accelerating growth for over half-dozen businesses, generating more than $5 million in revenue, hiring 200+ people and training/mentoring 1000s of entrepreneurs.

This handbook is written with two goals — First, becoming an entrepreneur is quite easy these days because of access to the know-how, technology and global market to everyone. Second, the stereotype approach to business building is causing more business closing down than the new businesses starting up every day. It is happening because we are not applying the winning strategies, proven tactics, and right perspectives.

While we may have different reasons to justify our failure, the real reason why most startups fail are one or more of the below:

Their product lacks traction because it does not attract significant customer interest and it doesn’t solve the problem of the customer in a way that customers expect it.
Their business plan does not have a clear vision. Instead of having a defined vision which makes it harder to direct, strategize, and grow their business.

They focus too much on building the product without emphasizing enough on the revenue model and having visible ideas about achieving the profit.

They are not in the ring. Even though they started their business, it was like a plan B for them. They enter the game without the commitment to devote their commitment, passion and long hours before they get into the zone where they can sow the seed of their efforts.

They get caught up day to day either getting involved in small stuff or doing mundane things like checking social media, answering useless calls, chatting, or doing timepass.

Look at the above picture and reflect on your own business. Have you placed the horse(your vision, idea, team, timing, funding) before the cart (product, services, revenue, profit) in a way that you’ll be able to carry it to achieve the dream you wish to realise through your business.

You can use this handbook to set your business vision, innovate your ideas, build your product, launch your business and grow your business to achieve your entrepreneurial dream. I will constantly keep updating the content based on the feedbacks and relevancy so that you have access to the relevant tools, models, and tactics to enhance the odds of success.

In spite of so many guides and document, I decided to write the Founders Handbook because I felt that there exists a need for it.

Whether you are an expert or a rookie, your decision to become an entrepreneur your bets on the future. Whether you are right or wrong will be directly related to the quality of decisions you make, how well you turn a particular iteration and allocate your resources accordingly. This guide is organized with the models, tactics, and perspective which will guide you to pursue your entrepreneurial journey offering a strong customer value proposition, excellent execution and prepare you to grab the opportunity when it strikes at you.

The Founders Handbook is written carefully so that you can apply the suggested tools and techniques while building your own business.

I welcome you to the entrepreneurial world to create a lasting impact in the world through your knowledge, learning and your ability to execute.

if you don’t know already, what does an entrepreneur do

Every entrepreneur starts their business because they feel they have the ideas, inventions, creations, messages, technologies, products, services, archetypes, frameworks, platforms or communities which once launched will change the world. And you find these ideas:

Pursuing your passion for the specific interest and honing your talents, skills, and abilities to deliver better results and monetize what you love. You believe that you enjoy doing it and you will draw a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction while doing it. You draw the inspiration from the popular quote from Confucious “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

The greatest ideas are born when you face life challenges, solve it and sell it to others who may be facing similar challenges in their life. The only caveat here is that there exists a significant number of people facing a similar problem else it becomes the problem of few and you’ll find it difficult to scale.

Fueled with the advancements in technology and the emergence of newer technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Biotechnology, robotics, etc. our future is going to be substantially different than what you see today. If you can do some future gazing and spot future opportunities, you can build a high-value business idea today.

Entrepreneurs also get their ideas while working on something side by or helping someone. When you keep doing things and constantly improve it over a period of time and that helps you build something so significant that you can build a highly successful business out of your continuous work.

Sometimes, business ideas also come when you experience things during your travel, holiday or actively participating in the events. When you apply your skills and creativity to convert such experiences, you can build a wildly successful business.

Whatever may be the source of your ideas when you convert it into a market-ready product solving a real problem of your target customer with excellent execution and passion for success, you can revolutionize an industry, create wealth and change the world.

And people aka entrepreneurs do it despite all odds

I joined TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) a global organization as a Chartered Member in the year 2005. As part of my membership obligation, I started mentoring startup founders and since then I would have met hundreds of entrepreneurs who approached me to get clarity on their uncertainty, identify the direction appropriate for their business as well as personal life and develop a definitive roadmap for their business success.

While interacting with all these entrepreneurs and also been an entrepreneur myself, we all want the same things; we want to deliver a strong customer value proposition, pursue a differentiated strategy, develop a better understanding of the market, hire and build a strong team, and raise capital. But, their approach to achieving these results are quite contrasting.

In my quest to discover the persona of these entrepreneurs, I found a verse in the Bhagavad Gita that I could relate to:
“In this world, there is a two-fold path, as I said before, O blameless One (Arjuna), the path of knowledge for men of contemplation and the path of work for men of action.” //3.3//

Let’s call them Gyanyogi and Karmyogi.

Even though they look similar, speak similarly do the things similarly, they are separate from each other in their approach to work and life.

A Gyanyogi Entrepreneur will find comfort in the path of peace, his journey will be inward to the self, knowledge will be his ammunition and attaining success through wisdom will be his goal. Most of the scientists, scholars, and researchers achieved their success working on their ideas and solving it to build a meaningful solution. Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Bill Gates are popular Gyani entrepreneurs.

A Karmyog Entrepreneur, on the other hand, would prefer the path of power, his journey would be to conquer the world, energy will be his ammunition and attaining success by becoming powerful will be his goal. Dhirubhai Ambani and Subhash Chandra are popular Karmyogi entrepreneurs.

There are enough pieces of evidence of all sort of people succeeding in the business leveraging their respective geniuses. I believe you can too by following these simple rules:

Spend time engaging in the provocative questions not just finding the answers. There are umpteen number of people ready to hand over the answers if you are able to ask the right questions.

Search and question what you are skipping and ask yourself why? Entrepreneurship is hard — whenever faced with the difficulties question yourself to get what is that one thing which will get you where you want to be.
Someone has done your version of success before – emulate their beliefs, habits and maximize on their strengths. Avoid their flaws and costly mistakes.
Siddhartha met a merchant. Looking at him, the merchant asked “Everyone can do something. What can you?”
Siddhartha’s replied to the merchant:
“I can think” –good decision-making and asking good questions
“I can wait” – plan long-term, be patient
“I can fast” – be able to withstand pain and be resilient
You too can think. You too can wait. You too can fast.
Just do it!

The Business Model is your product

We are living in a ‘surplus society’. Everything you need is offered by similar businesses producing similar things having access to similar resources with no remarkable difference in the pricing or quality.

You must be thinking:

  • Is there any opportunity which is worth pursuing and investing your time, money and resources?
  • How can you still create a great idea which will offer a strong value proposition that customer can’t resist?
  • How can you attract a continual stream of business leads and business opportunities?
  • How can you stay competitive to position your business so compelling that your customers continues buying it from you?
  • How can you monetize your customers by selling them more and offering them other complimentary products and services?
  • And, how can you cost-effectively and efficiently get more things done every day to remain competitive, offer better value, and maximize your profit?

Yes, you can.

The purpose of this guide is to help you find the secret formula that when applied together with the excellent execution, your entrepreneurial dream will lead you to achieve the success you deserve.

At this point in time, I want you to do a bit of day dreaming. I want you to think of the day when you’ll be introducing your idea to the world. You’d be tweeting about your launch. Knowing the limitations of introducing your idea in less than 280 words, how would you like to introduce your business to the world so that when they read it, they must feel “wow”. They can’t stop visiting your website or checking it out?
Use the template below to introduce your idea.

Don’t worry too much about it. Just use the best of your creativity and imagination to write the most compelling tweet to introduce your startup.

Value Proposition – Create compelling products and services

Competitive Analysis – Getting ahead of the competition

“Companies that solely focus on competition will die. Those that focus on value creation will thrive.” – Edward de Bono
When you’re starting a new project or a new company it is very important to define which values your innovation brings to the market, also known as value proposition.
A value proposition is where your company’s product offer intersects with your customer’s desires.
Basically, it’s the magic fit between what you make and why people buy it.
It is a simple tool that quickly gets you to the ‘minimum viable clarity’ require to test your ability and services. The canvas contains two areas – your product and your customers. Each area has three elements: products and services, pain relievers, and gain creators.
Let’s start bringing up that value!

Action: Start creating your value

Organize information about what the customers want in a simple way that makes the patterns of value creation easily visible.

  • Step into your customer’s shoes. Try to understand what matters most to the customers
  • Look at your each customer profiles separately; understand their story and what product/solution they are looking for to solve their existing problem
  • Identify your customer pains including obstacles and risks
  • What outcomes and benefits does your customer expect? List down as many gains as you can come up with
  • Rank the ‘Pains’ from most extreme to moderate pains and ‘Gains’ from essential to nice-to-have gains at the bottom

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t mix several customer segments in one profile. Make value proposition for every different customer segment
  • Keep this question in mind: Why customers should buy from you over your competitors
  • Use different sticky notes for each pain reliever and gain creator

Competitive Analysis – Getting ahead of the competition

“How do I stay on top of the game?” Now is the time to find out who your competition really is. A healthy competition can keep you
motivated more than just passion for what you do. And for that you’ll have to keep a close eye on your competitors.

You know why Honda was able to break the US motorcycle market? They kept an eye on their competitors – none of them were producing small bikes at that time. It was a unique and fresh idea that no one in the US market thought of before. And it worked.

The competitor analysis tool will help you identify your competition. In just a few minutes you will be able to determine and weigh their
attributes, assess their strengths, weaknesses and uncover their objectives and strategies to see how they relate to your market.

Action: Conduct Competitive Analysis

Your aim should be to determine and weight your competitor’s attributes, assess their strengths, weaknesses and uncover their objectives and strategies to see how they relate to your market

  • Identify your competition. Include those locally based as well as internationally
  • Research information about your competitors. List all the elements you want to find out about your competition
  • Compare your business using the competitor analysis grid
  • Schedule a monthly competitive analysis. They should be as regular as your inventory checks and other business functions

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • You can employ college students or create internship programs for conducting your analysis

Value Curve Analysis – Visualizing and improving your value propositions

‘Thoda extra milta hai toh, accha lagta hai na’, If you get a bit more than you expect, it makes you feel good.

Adding value is an important strategy of any business. It is used to acquire and retain customers, increase brand awareness and ‘make noise’ in the marketplace. It lets your competition know that your company exists and that it’s ready to get down to business.

Value Curve is a tool that can be used as a guide towards creating and leveraging new market space. You’ve identified your competitors in previous steps, but this is where the fun part begins. It’s time to introduce them to the next best thing – your business.

Action: Plotting Value Curve

Diagram your value curve to compare products on a range of factors by rating them on a scale from low to high

  • List all performance dimensions of your industry offerings on the horizontal axis
  • Use the vertical axis to address the importance of the offering, from low to high
  • Define your competitor’s and your company’s curve along the dimensions and look for significant patterns
  • Categorise your personas with some or all of the following information:
    1. Eliminating dimensions add no real value to customers
    2. Reducing any dimension that are of little value
    3. Raising any dimension that can be enhanced or increased
    4. Creating any new dimension that would differentiate your solution from the rest
  • Continue modifying your value curve and look for ways of improving your product offering

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Keep the number of dimensions between 7 to 10
  • Conduct this analysis in a group to get a better understanding of the competitor and their offerings
  • Revisit your value curves regularly. Tweak your product when necessary

The Big Picture

A little girl was drawing in her empty book. She was fully focused and rarely looked away from the paper.
“What are you doing?” asked her father, curiously looking over her shoulder.
“I’m drawing a picture of God.”
Her father frowned, “But people don’t know what he looks like?”
“Well, they will know now”, replied the girl.

Most of us think about drawing as a way of representing something in a graphic form. Therefore, we persuade ourselves that we cannot draw well and give up the right to draw.

Drawing is a great way for capturing thoughts, exploring ideas, and then sharing those ideas with others. It gets ideas out of your head into a form that is easy to sort, share and document for your research. Drawing even a simple representation of an idea makes you think through a lot of details.

This exercise focuses on considering the aspects or bigger picture around the issue, task or need, by painting an artistic masterpiece reflecting the notable proportions of your idea and future vision. Break through to bring your concept to life early to figure out how you might take an idea further.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Get a first tangible expression of your idea
  • Increase your range of vision and establish framework to take the first step into an empty space
  • Show your dream to rest of the world and make it happen

Case Example:

Getting you inspired – below is a sketch of Uber’s user experience. Simple, right? If you don’t know how to sketch, don’t worry – draw whatever you can. The goal is to let out your thinking into the real world.

Action: Draw your Big Picture!

Allow your imagination to soar beyond context and boundaries. You can follow the below mentioned steps for drawing your Big Picture

  • Get into the settings where you find your creative best. Identify when your best creative hours are. For most people, its a few hours after they wake up
  • Brainstorm and ask questions  like –
  • What will make people feel great when they will use my product?
  • Is it going to solve the real-world problem?
  • Try to speak to an expert in the field and discuss whether your big picture is correctly conveying your business idea/ product.
  • Erase all “what ifs” and close your negative thoughts.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Draw the sketch that presents your product out in the real world.

Additional Tips:

  • Leave all your emotions and imagination on the canvas
  • Sketch it first and color later
  • If needed, ask a trusted friend for help

The 5 Whys – Digging deep into the root cause of the problem

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. Answering “Why” gets you to the root cause of the problem. It allows you to go beyond the obvious answers and solve things on a deeper level. It is the key to your business.

Though this exercise might sound simple, but it requires thought and intelligent application in order to find the right Why? questions to ask, as well as the discipline and persistence to follow the method.

This exercise requires a lot of practice. But the more you use and apply it and the more you practice it, the more you’ll begin to find the real underlying (root) causes of problems. This method is extremely valuable and powerful to get you started.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Establish links between the root causes and surface problems with little required preparation
  • Gain an understanding of complex issues
  • Classify problems and solutions as either internal or external

Case Example:

Teemium is a technological platform that bridges the gap between college students and companies in terms of job opportunities. For the students, it aims to find a job as per their skills, abilities and career choice and for the companies it helps to get the right candidate for the right job.

Problem Statement: Only 20% of the candidates are hired through campus placement

Why?       Because it is difficult to connect with colleges
Why?       Poor response from colleges
Why?       Lack of placement management system
Why?      The college management cannot make the team accountable for placements
Why?       The team is not incentivize appropriately

Action: Define your 5 Whys!

Dig down deep into what the actual reasons are for a problem or what the problem actually is. You can start on the following lines to get your 5 Whys

  • Define the problem. Write down the identified problem to focus on possible solutions.
  • Ask “Why” did the problem happen? Write the possible answer
  • Again ask “Why” addressing the possible answer that you have written for the previous Why?
  • Repeat it for 5-6 times till you get to the root of the problem
  • Tip: Always write the first thing that come to you mind each time you ask “Why”

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Start with your 5 Whys using the below mentioned format.

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t jump to a solution when presented with a problem
  • Look at the big picture and improve your ability to arrive at the root cause
  • Analyze the results and form relationships between answers

Getting Started: Build Right Product for Right Customers

Ask anyone, and they will tell you that the only three important factors that can drive a significant portion of business success are:

1) Making your product so interesting that you can sell
2) Making your product create significant customer interest so that customer can buy
3) Making your product so compelling that your customer is willing to pay

Start identifying your customers, their demographics, and the pain points you wish to address through your solutions. Your aim should be to also visualize whether the customer you have identified is a decision maker, buyer, influencer, user or a recommender.

Resources:

To scale efficiently and effectively, expansion stage companies need to focus their efforts not on a broad universe of potential customers, but rather on a specific subset of customers who are most similar to their best current customers. The key to doing so is through customer segmentation. The OpenView article Customer Segmentation: A Guide explains why customer segmentation is important.

Action: Identify Customer Segments

approach customer segmentation exercise with the aim to discover potential customers who are most most likely connect with the problem you aim to solve through your ideas

  • Identify the broad level under which you will categorise the customer. For example, undergraduate students, any family with income up to 50000 per month, etc.
  • Classify the customer demographic such as age, gender, income, nationality, etc
  • Define the pain point that you are solving for the customer segment
  • Name the customer if you can imagine anyone in your surrounding or reference
  • Answer the question why you feel the named person is your ideal customer and how you will reach out to them to validate your hypothesis.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Be as realistic as possible.
  • If you are not sure about the real customer, search the internet for the exact buyers of the similar product or services. You can consult your friends for help

Seize the Market Opportunity with Competitive Landscape Analysis

You have identified your customer segments and the pain points you are going to address through your product or service for them. Now, you need to define the competitive landscape to see how your competition is addressing those points, what would be the cost and efforts they’d need to catch up for addressing the pain points better than you do.

Your aim should be to know the competitors whom you’d face when you launch your product in the marketplace:
– How quickly will the competition catch up with you in solving the problem better than you?
– How will they seize your size through pricing, positioning, and marketing?
– What else would they do to achieve better customer success?

Do the SWOT analysis to benchmark with your product offering and know where you stand against the competition. Your aim should be to derive the solution hypothesis that will keep you ahead of the competitive value curve and help you capitalize the market opportunity to move ahead of your competition.

Action: Identify three Competitors!

Prepare the line of action you need to emphasize for making your business superior to the competition

  • Research the internet to find the businesses addressing the problem
  • Go to Quora, Social Media platforms, Forums and feedback website to find out about your competition
  • Speak to people who are the users of the product to understand their pain points
  • Read the review on eCommerce website if the product is sold there

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Visit the competitor website
  • Follow your potential competitors on social media
  • Perform google search trend analysis on the keywords relevant to your business

Structure a Good Product / Solution Hypothesis for your Business

Your aim is to create a meaningful impact in the lives of people when they use your product or service.
When you read a book, listen to music, use a product, service or venture, you resonate with it. You feel the power that lies in it.
Think about the solution that your product is going to offer in a way that it allows the consumer to connect with emotions, promises, and the thing that your product is going to do for them.
The question you should ask?
How can I create an experience that allows my target customer to feel my soul through my work?

Action: Frame your Solution Hypothesis

You can follow the below mentioned steps for solution hypothesis

  • You need to be your creative best to think of an nth way to solve the problem
  • Think of a potential scenario that will emerge when your solution is used by the customer
  • Look at the opportunities and challenges you are addressing and the best possible thing you can do to address it
  • Look at easy, better, comprehensive and optimum way to define your solution

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Describe all possible scenarios and contexts under which your target customer will benefit from your solution. Establish the notions
    with the facts and solutions for each scenario
  • Get an insider view of the current solutions
  • Look at adjacent industries and market segments to find complimentary hypothesis and incremental ideas

Customer Validation – Looking to generate monetary transactions

Now, you have built a solid foundation of your ideas, customer segment and solution hypothesis that you believe will make a compelling offering when you’ll launch your business. It’s time that you approach your real customers for whom you are trying to solve the problem to learn enough about their pain points. You also paint the picture of the potential solution to gauge the customer’s excitement for your solution.

An excellent way to discover great insights from the customer is to not treat it as an interview, but a conversation between you and your customer to smartly gather useful ideas that can help you decide and build your ideas further.

Your aim is to build a product that generates significant customer interest and attracts the customer to buy and pay for it. Before you go any further, you should validate three things. First, whether the problem and the pain point as you have defined are correct or not. Second, whether you are able to reach out to the customer through the channels as you have described earlier. And third, whether your solution hypothesis resonates with what your customer thinks about the way you address their problem or not.

Action: Conduct Customer Interview

Your aim is to communicate the pain point to your customer and observe how they resonate with it and what kind of solution they are looking at

  • Your goal is to understand the insights to help you focus on the potential solutions and the resulting action
  • If you find that the customer you are interviewing is not the right one, change your customer segment and redo the validation exercise. Pivot until you find the right customer
  • Demonstrate to your potential customer about the factors through which you think of addressing the solution better than the current solution customer is using

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Establish an open environment for a meaningful conversation with your customer
  • Your aim is to find what customer thinks, how they think the solution should be provided, how frequently they use the solution, and whether they would be willing to use the solution that you are thinking to offer
  • Don’t put the answers in front of the customer. Observe what they feel and express. Be clear and specific in asking the actual question

Define Your Company

As a founder of your business, you will need to tell your investors, customers, stakeholders, and partners about your company. You will need to tell in a way that it visually, emotionally, functionally and financially depicts the vision, values, and purpose for which you plan to build, launch and grow your company.

Let’s look at some of the examples of great companies to draw inspiration for yours:

Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Facebook: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

Tata Group: To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust.

Your aim should be to define your company in a way that it attracts the listener and communicates your idea in a clear and concise manner. The best way to think about defining your company is “How would you announce your company to the world on your day of launch with one tweet?”

Action: Describe your Company

Allow yourself to travel to the dream world with open eyes, a blank piece of paper and an open mind. You can follow the below mentioned steps for defining your Company

  • Define “Company/Idea” using relevant, attractive, and meaningful name. Avoid trademark violation, pronunciation and spelling difficulties
  • A “defined offering” should contain the strongest value proposition that will make a great unique selling proposition and highest recall value in the listener’s mind
  • The “target audience” should be exactly the customer segment you have identified in the earlier exercise
  • “Solve a problem” should be the exact problem that you are solving with your idea
  • The “secret sauce” is your key solution that will make it stand out in the marketplace

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Use strong verbs and adjective
  • Keep it simple, clear and understandable. Avoid jargons.
  • Focus on clearly defining your vision, mission, and purpose

If You’ve All The Money and Resources

“Whatever I touch should turn into Gold.”
Sounds familiar? Most of us have heard the famous story of “The Golden Touch” of greedy King Midas who was granted a wish by a mysterious visitor to turn all things he touches to gold.

Now imagine the same happens to you – What would you have done? Yep, it’s time to discuss the cold hard subject of money. Let’s talk about getting and spending money and what it takes to be more fulfilled and successful. It’s a question most people avoid, but it will help you achieve incredible success.

This exercise will help you to expand your horizon and give a bird’s eye view point to your business. Answering this question will help you define what you are passionate about.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Prioritize what you value and what (and whom) you care about the most
  • Prepare a exhaustive list of resources required to start your business
  • Get you thinking on ways to look at the budget and further financial planning required to run your business

Action: If you have all the money and resources

Answer the above question by keeping the following things in mind:

  • Choose your focus
  1. What does this mean to you?
  2. What are the tools and resources you need?
  • Create a list

Make a list of all the resources that you need to start your business that
require both financial and non-financial help

  • Think of ways
  1. How can you increase your budget financially?
  2. How can your money and resources be re-invested?

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Use the format mentioned below.

Additional Tips:

  • Determine the value of your priorities. Re prioritize if necessary
  • Analyze your list looking at the budget you have in hand

Needs, Wants and Desires

How often do you question yourself  “I need this product/ service” before purchasing any product/ service.

When you start a business it is easy to think that customers will buy our product because we are offering better features, affordable price, good after sales service, etc.

Your customers do not want to buy a product just because you make it available to them. They are trying to fulfill a need or solve a problem. Hence it is very important for you to understand the needs, wants and desires of your customers to make your product more saleable and your business profitable.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Figure out your priorities and thereby build a USP for your product
  • Tailor your products and services to better match your customer’s requirements
  • How to use this information to sell/ market your product to customers
  • Improve efficiency, effectiveness, and bottom line of your business compared to your competitors
NEEDSWANTSDESIRES
Good BatteryNews, Weather, and Stock MarketsIR blasters/remote control
Camera (Still & Video) – clarityVideo CallingKill Switch (Device Protection) – remotely lock, ring and track your device Eg: “Find my iPhone”
Design & DisplayLanguage TranslatorsConstant health and fitness monitoring
Screen SizeInternet RadioNo more passwords: Biometric security
Built In applications Phone & Contact Address Book, Web Browser, Calendar, Calculator, Music Player, Photo Album, GPS Navigation, Texting, RadioSecurity features Phone lock , password, swipe, finger print, faceNo more charging cables: Inductive wireless charging
BluetoothApp Store/ Play store access
Wi-fi featureImproved notifications
Alarm clock, Stopwatch, TimerEmergency message sender

Action: Build your USP with Needs, Wants & Desires

You can follow the below mentioned steps for building your USP

  • Prepare an exhaustive list of the all the features that you want your product to have.
  • Prepare 3 columns as Needs, Wants, Desires and classify the feature list (each item) as Needs if it is critical to the product, Wants if it is supplemental to the main product and Desire s if it is outside the main product. Reflect on your problem statement while doing this
  • Once all the features are sorted, look at each column and the features in them and verify their importance once again as High, Moderate & Low.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Classify your product features into Needs, Wants & Desires (keeping your problem statement and customers in mind).

Additional Tips:

  • Follow this “find a need and fill it” advice
  • Review your needs, wants and desires regularly
  • Speak to a few customers to understand their needs, wants and desires

Customer Segmentation

“Rarely does one size fit all, and your prospects know it.”
Distinguishing your target audience in the market and designing the product offering as per your customer discovery will help prove that
your solution has been crafted keeping their pain points and situation in mind. Therefore it is very important to obtain a deeper understanding of
each segment of customer that your product/service will cater to, their buying motives and behaviour. Your promotion and marketing strategy will also be designed according to your customer segmentation.

But as the customer’s needs, behaviours and wants change over time, it is important for you to consistently revisit and correct your customer segments with new data on real behaviours. Therefore it is crucial to keep collecting information about the benefits and features that mater to your customers and data on emerging social, economic and technological trends that may alter purchasing and usage patterns.

On successfully completing this exercise, you will be able to:

  • distinguish your target audience in the market and design your offering as per your customer segment
  • plan your marketing strategies by focusing on most profitable customers
  • customize your product/ service for each customer segment

Case Example: Titan Raga Watch

Demographic – Ladies in age group 30-55 yrs having income between Rs. 2.5-4.0 lakhs per annum. Independent & confident women, young women professional
Geographic – Large Metro Cities
Psychographic – Fashion statement but price sensitive; Mid-premium and luxury
Behavioral – Can be worn on formal occasions, wide range of designs, strong brand loyalty towards the product

Action: Understand your Customer Segments

Segment your customers as per the action points mentioned below:

  • Gather and organize all customer-related information in one place. Obtain additional customer information if need be.
  • Divide your customers based on the following:
    1. Demographics – age, gender, family size, income, occupation, education, religion, race, nationality
    2. Geographic – World region, country, city, climate, density
    3. Psychographic – Social class, lifestyle, personality
    4. Behavioral – occasions, benefits, user status, usage rates, loyalty status, attitude towards the product
  • Segmentation cannot be done on the basis of only one criterion. It is best to divide your customers according to all 4 criteria. Start with single criteria as mentioned in point 2 and then expand to other three criteria.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option. Classify your customers (keeping their needs, wants and desires in mind).

Additional Tips:

  • You can reach even more specific niche customers by combining different segmentation styles
  • Look at how your competitors have segmented their customers

Define your Customer Persona

You know your Customer’s Needs, Wants, and Desires…. Customer Segments… Target Audience….
But there is still something missing….???
And that is….your customer’s behaviors, their stories/ background, their emotions, expectations, concerns, etc
To get an understanding of these you have to go deep into their Personas.

Personas are composite constructs of people, representations of the different types of people who use your product/service. They may be imaginary but not fictional, as they are based on knowledge of your customer base and/or user base. Personas are less about demographic data, and more about context, attitude, and behavior.

When designing personas, the story needs to cover –

  • demographic representation of the character like age, gender;
  • general traits like occupation, interests, hobbies;
  • psychological traits like needs, motivations, aspirations, etc

This will help to get different perspective on your product offering or the services being provided by your product. It will shift your focus away from abstract demographics to the actual needs, wants and desires of real customers.