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You have done your homework. You’ve researched your market, identified a need, and created a world-class product to fill that need.
Now you’re ready to pitch your innovation, but before you jump in at the deep end just because you can, ask yourself: should you? Is the market really ready for everything you have to offer? The simple reality is that often it doesn’t really matter how great your product or service is if you plan your launch ineffectively. In fact, the success or failure of your go-to-market strategy may well depend on your timing.
Regardless of your industry, product, or service, the key to running a successful business is the ability to better serve consumer needs than your competitors. But to do that, you need to be able to discern not only exactly what your audience needs today, but also what they will want in the foreseeable and unprecedented future.
This means that the ability to spot emerging market trends will determine the fate of your startup in both the short and long term. After all, product and service innovation takes time, and you need to prepare to serve your customers before they even feel the need.
Of course, the effective timing of the market can feel like a fortune teller. You need both the analytical skills and a forward-thinking vision to anticipate today what the market will be like tomorrow.
However, if you focus on being proactive rather than reactive in the market, you can help shape market demand instead of letting fate do it all.
On the other hand, if you wait until the market is already mature to start your business, then you are already too late. When it comes to starting a business, it’s far better to get into the market a little earlier so your business can drive and define the market than to get into a field already occupied by competitors.
If you are first in your class, consumers will almost certainly identify the product or service with your brand. This will put later newcomers in a subordinate position. They will always catch up with your product or service. You will always be compared to your company.
As important as it is to enter the market early and ideally be a leader in your field, there is one caveat. You don’t want to invest precious time, effort, and resources to dominate a market that doesn’t exist or isn’t developing.
Again, this speaks to the crucial importance of research. Before starting a business or attempting to launch a product, you need to ascertain its probable profitability. That means you have to spend a lot of time evaluating how legal, economic, and social variables can affect your product development strategy.
After all, there is little point in investing in the development of a product that an emerging innovation may soon render obsolete. If new tax laws come into force early in the fiscal year that make the product unaffordable to manufacture or buy, you should probably turn to another development project while you wait for better market forecasts.
There is no question that the past few years have been volatile. There was a public health crisis. We have faced protracted lockdowns, extended company shutdowns and devastating supply chain crises. The risk of a global economic recession persists.
And that means the market is fraught with uncertainty, making the task of effectively planning your business launch even more difficult. Nonetheless, even significant uncertainty does not negate the importance of market timing. If anything, it increases its importance.
As we have already seen, being an early entrant is much more desirable than being late to the party. But that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the factors making the market unstable, at least for the foreseeable future.
It does mean, however, that you must be willing to deal with the uncertainty even as you plan your launch. For example, you may need to scale back your go-to-market approach.
For example, instead of going to market with 50,000 units of a new product, start your business with 25,000 and then grow systematically and in line with the market. Instead of hiring 20 new employees to get your startup off the ground, start with a core workforce of 10 and hire as needed.
The key is to streamline your go-to-market while ensuring your go-to-market coincides with the green shoots of real and growing consumer demand. For example, if you pay attention to consumer ratings, questions, comments, and complaints, it’s an ideal way to understand what expectations are not being met or only partially met by existing businesses (including your own). But don’t just pay attention to customer feedback, deal with it. Build a relationship with your customers by being human and showing empathy for their needs and suggestions.
Corresponding insights can be gained by obtaining customer satisfaction surveys. By rigorously, continuously monitoring your target customers’ responses to existing products and services in this way, you will be better able to identify opportunities to meet unmet market needs.
By launching your brand ahead of your potential competitors, your company is in the driver’s seat when it comes to setting product standards, even as your startup aligns and identifies with your flagship products and services. You will be the innovator and driver of the market and your future growth will be timed with the growth in demand.
You can offer the most innovative products in the industry. Your service can be second to none. But if you don’t time the market effectively when you decide to start your business, you might as well doom your business. Market timing means making sure you enter the market exactly when consumers are beginning to feel the need for the product or service you are offering. It means anticipating future market demand and preparing to meet it. It also means ensuring that your product development and business launch strategies can accommodate and adapt to changing market conditions and ongoing economic uncertainties.
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