One of the core pillars to doing a simple startup is to find the MVP or minimum viable product version of your business, make it happen for as close to free as possible, and then add in new things or changes based on customer feedback. Today I want to talk about giving your customers what they want based on that feedback.
Once you’ve been running your business for a couple of months, you’ll start to notice trends in what your customers are saying in their reviews, or what they are contacting you to ask about. Sometimes they want a different flavor, or color combination. Sometimes they want to know if you are available at different times or if you can do something else that’s not currently in your catalog of offerings.
When you start noticing these things, make sure you are writing them down and keeping track. If you feel like there is a strong demand from your customers for something new, now you get to decide a) if you can make it happen, and b) does it fit with the growth plan for your business?
If a new addition is not within your skill set then you will either need to consider learning the new skill, hiring it out to someone else, or letting your customers know it’s not something you offer right now, but you will look into it further in the future. The other reason you might not be able to make it happen is simply that you don’t want to. When I had my tutoring business, I would constantly get asked if I could tutor on Saturday mornings instead of on weeknights. Of course I could do that, but the business lifestyle I wanted was to keep my weekends free for family time or pursuing personal interests, so I would always decline and say that I’m not available then. Another alternative would be to find another tutor to work with me who was comfortable working weekends. We could then split the workload and refer to each other.
What is the vision for how you want your company to grow? If adding in a new service might distract from your overall growth plan or seem like an outlier offering compared to your other products, then it may not be a good idea to add it in. We want customers to have a clear idea about your business and what you offer. A wide spread of different products or services may confuse customers or lead to the false belief that you mustn’t be specialized in any area if you are offering so many diverse options. A narrow focus for your business is always a better one to have for winning market share.
In my case with The Simple StartUp, I’ve had 3 requests that keep popping up. The first is to do the webinars at a later time in the challenges so that the West Coast participants have more time to get home from school or work and join in. The second is to slow the course down to give more time between lessons for acting on the information given. Finally, people are asking if the workbook is available in a digital only format. There are other questions and requests of course, but these are 3 pieces of feedback that seem to keep popping up. The digital version of the workbook is a hard problem to solve currently. It needs to be accessible easily, but not something that could be downloaded and shared, since then the print copy of the workbook would lose its value once a free digital version was available. We are currently looking at a way to set up a website where customers could login and access the digital book, answer the Business Activities, and save progress, without being able to download the sections.
The big change we are making, and which I’m proud to announce to you, is we are now going to offer an on-demand, self-paced version of The Simple StartUp Challenge. This will solve the problem of participants feeling pressure to complete lessons and will instead allow for the lessons to be completed at their own speed. There won’t be webinars, which will alleviate some of the stress and apprehension about commitment that some prospective participants were feeling, and instead they will get access to The Simple StartUp Challenge Community which will be made up of all current participants and anyone who has completed a Simple StartUp Challenge. If you are a past participant, you should have received an email from me last week with an invitation to join the Community. If not, send me an email and I’ll get that to you.
If you know anyone who is thinking about starting a business and they want some help getting started, then let them know The Simple StartUp Challenge is now available to start at any time and can be taken at their own speed. There will still be Group Challenges, the next of which is this summer. So if they want to be part of a group setting up businesses together, with the live webinars each week, then that will be available too.
There are still many challenges to solve and opportunities to grow for The Simple StartUp, and I’m sure there are for your businesses too. Keep listening and see what patterns emerge. Then decide if and how you want to meet those customer needs.