This post is part of a 7 part series, check out the first post here for a listing of all 7 in the series.
In my experience, looking at your product critically is one of the hardest things to for innovators to do. To remain subjective about your own ideas is quite literally impossible, and yet it's also possible to overcorrect and become too cynical. So how does one self-criticize without becoming too much of a critic? Well, I have some tips for ya.
Why wouldn't someone want this product? No seriously, what's a good reason to not want it? Is it too expensive? Solving a problem for someone who doesn't bear the cost for not solving it? Think about the last 3 things you bought within 20% of your target price tag. Would you have chosen your product first?
You're probably familiar with this role and you might even be good at playing the part, but I'm going to make it more specific: to make sure you're taking on this role, come up with as many reasons as possible and narrow them down to the top 3.
Ask yourself: what can I do to mitigate these problems? Let's say reason #1 was that you're just playing in a very crowded space. How do you get in as a newbie? Can I offer a money-back guarantee to be the lowest risk option? Do I need to offer more training or resources for help? Can I get an endorsement from someone whom my customers trust?
Now that you've spent some time playing devils advocate and identifying reasons your product could fail or fall short of your goals, it's time to start flipping your perspective.
One of my favorite books with an absolutely cheesy-beyond-reason title is "The Magic of Thinking Big". The premise is that simply thinking about accomplishing more can actually help you achieve it. I won't get into the how and why - if you want to know more then you can pick up the book.
Approach your product and your business with this mindset. Look at a list of your product's features and benefits and ask - what could my product or business do that would make this feature underwhelming? How could you achieve something much more useful? Try to write down just 5 takeaways to reflect on.
These takeaways could help you realize that your current product is already falling short, or perhaps that your product is great but that your second generation could be even better. Either way, reflecting on this question is bound to give you some useful insights.
Having an abundance mindset is about believing that you will have more opportunity and that trying to capitalize on the opportunities you have today could actually keep you from having the available resources to capitalize on the next opportunity. This can lead to the hardest part of all - giving up. For those in the throws of doubt, I recommend reading The Dip, by Seth Godin. It's an excellent and brief read about the immense value of quitting. Quitting isn't a glorified part of our culture, but sometimes it's absolutely the right call. It's also possible that you're merely too early, in which case you can always shelf the idea and come back to it later.
Once you're done playing devil's advocate, thinking bigger, and adapting your mindset, take a little bit of time (10 minutes or so) to reflect on your work. Did you learn anything? If so, stay tuned for the next segment when we cover drafting your business plan and launch strategyDraft Your Business Plan or Launch Strategy