“If you a see a bandwagon it’s too late” James Goldsmith
What a wonderful quote and yet it’s something growthhacking start-up entrepreneurs fail to recognise. In many ways timing is everything. You either have a product that’s already out there and a raving success but fail to see what’s happening when it comes to emerging trends or in the innovation cycle, or you have a product or service that is about to be released but before it is someone else beats you to the punch.
In both cases bandwagons are very much about recognising emerging trends and plotting a timeline for your product or service that takes advantage of them. Let’s take a look at how you can keep on top of your game:
1. Always look further than your own business
With technology and innovation being what it is today trends can change almost overnight while others may take longer to unfold. For instance, way back in the 1900’s when Henry Ford came out with the Model T pretty much everyone with a horse and cart said the idea wouldn’t take off – yet it did. Years later when the Apple iPhone was released it caught other phone makers by surprise so much so that the Nokia and Ericsson brands are no longer with us. Today the innovation cycle is so fast that you need to always look at where the next opportunity is for your product to evolve. In other words keep one eye on the present and another on the future.
2. Talk less and listen more
The problem with entrepreneurs is we like to talk a lot and in doing so don’t do too much listening. But, the secret to being on top of your game is listening more than talking. Listen to what’s happening with your competition, with buyer behavior and even consumer demand.
3. Keep in touch with trend experts
Ok, so a trend expert is one of those people that keeps a finger on the pulse of what people want and they exist across all industries. Some of them are well known while others are more academics. Take for example if you see Warren Buffett or Richard Branson investing in something ask “why?” Those guys don’t put money into things to lose it. Another example is Nolan Bushnell, the co-founder of Atari, who seeks out new industries that need or could do with a little disruption. Whatever the case, always try and keep your finger on their pulses because they have theirs on everyone else’s!
4. Clearly understand the innovation cycle for your product
Products don’t always stay for the long haul; they exist purely on based on buyer or consumer demand. Once that demand runs out your product will be dead. That is why you always have to ensure that you understand the innovation cycle. When can you improve on your product and when can it be released to the public? Innovation and timing go hand in hand.
5. Don’t think you know what your market or customer wants
A lot of really good ideas come unstuck because the inventor or maker thinks they know what the market wants. It sounds awful to say but that happens in the software development industry where developers think of a great idea because it’s what they would buy. Well, that’s the first mistake. In order for a product to succeed it needs mass market appeal – you don’t get volume sales because you and your developer mates would buy something. So, always market test the idea, product or service and always take feedback on the chin.
So, that’s how you can insulate yourself from a bandwagon – because as James Goldsmith said “If you a see a bandwagon it’s too late”
Author: Matthew Tukaki, Founder of EntreHub.org www.entrehub.org
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