Ready, fire, aim?

Daryl HattonConnectionPoint, Entrepreneurship

When is jumping on an opportunity prior to fully planning out a scenario a smart move?

I’m thinking about this because last week the opportunity presented itself to acquire the services of a good development team and I jumped on it. One of my potential executive advisers questioned whether or not I was pulling a “ready, fire, aim” maneuver given we are not absolutely clear about the buying motivation and needs of our target market or even which of the potential target markets we want to focus on first.

To me, this gets down to a question of tolerance for uncertainty and somewhat of our commitment to find answers to these questions along the way to delivering the service. As a software startup in a fast moving marketplace, I’m extremely short of time and resources to build the ‘perfect plan” of what we want to do. While I don’t believe my advisor was advocating doing this, it is a question of how far towards this ideal plan do we need to be before we can take action.

I believe we know enough about the needs of our target customers and our position in the market that we can start prototyping what the software/service will look like. The plan is to use this prototype to test our assumptions and help our potential customers better understand what we are trying to do so they can provide us good feedback on what we really need to do to win their business. The risk is that we are so off-base that the effort invested in this prototype is totally wasted.

I’m a believer in the “show ’em what you mean” school of business. I can’t think of a better way to really get a feeling for what a customer wants to buy than by putting an example of the product/service in their hands and asking if they’ll pay for it and if not, what do we need to change/improve. We’ll repeat this process until we have a winner or determine that there is no point in trying again.

My gut tells me we are on the right track with our approach to this market and therefore expect our prototype(s) to be “close enough” to get us moving. I’m willing to bet my company on this gambit.

We’ll soon see if it is a winning proposition…