You have an idea for a product. You build it. It’s absolutely great, and it works flawlessly. But, the customers aren’t pouring in.

There is a widespread notion that “if you build it, they will come”. ‘They’ in this case being the users/customers. To a certain extent it’s true. If your product is good it’s possible to find a small audience among the enthusiasts, the techies, i.e. the vanguard of the digital world. Unfortunately that’s not enough for long term success.

Do you remember Google Glass? The augmented reality headset that was going to combine the digital world with the “real” one? Sure, lots of people wanted to try them out and play around with them. But the need wasn’t strong enough for anyone but the most enthusiastic of techies to accept the price. Google Glass didn’t solve a problem. Of course Google (or Alphabet) can handle that cost, and it doesn’t mean it can’t solve a problem in the future.

There is no need to let other products historical failures deter you from innovating and creating though. The list of products that succeeded can be made very long. Remember that companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are historically young companies that now affects the lives of billions with their products, and making our lives easier at the same time.

There are a few thoughts that are good to keep in mind to avoid being that fantastic product noone uses.

First:

Make sure there is a problem your product actually solves. This means knowing your audience, their needs and pains. Maybe a similar product already exists, but it doesn’t provide the real time data the customer needs or is unable to scale enough when customers are added. Or, maybe you’re the first to deliver a specific type of application that hasn’t been possible before but solves major problems for todays business.

Second:

It’s often better to start with a minimum viable product (MVP, we’ve written a blog post about it here) and then add functionality as you find out more about customer needs. Don’t aim for releasing the full and perfect product, it will only slow you down and drain resources.

Third:

Your idea may be great, and even solve a problem. But in the end the product can grow into something you didn’t anticipate, and that’s a good thing. It means you’ve gotten customer feedback, and had the flexibility of both mind and methods/tools needed to adapt to it, and that is what makes lasting success.