In the fast-evolving world of technology, the race to create the next groundbreaking product seems like a relentless pursuit. Whether an entrepreneur, a new startup founder, or a seasoned tech giant, the challenge is the same:
How to go from idea to commercial success in the fastest and most effective way?
When it comes to building a new tech product, here’s a critical principle that can significantly impact success:
Focusing on solving a single problem exceptionally well.
The Temptation of the All-in-One Product
It’s not uncommon for new tech founders to fall into the trap of creating an all-in-one product that attempts to solve a multitude of problems.
I call this ‘The Swiss Army Knife Approach’.
‘A comprehensive solution that caters to all user needs in one fell swoop’.
It’s essentially a combination of multiple solutions, so you’re trying to achieve product-market fit with multiple products simultaneously.
While it may seem like a grand and appealing vision, it most often leads to a host of challenges including…
The Complexity Conundrum
When you try to address numerous problems within a single product, complexity becomes the main issue. The product is significantly harder to develop, maintain, and scale. As a result, you may end up with a product that’s mediocre at best in addressing any of the issues it was meant to solve.
Imagine presenting users with an all-in-one product that promises to be the ultimate solution to their problems. Instead of delight, more often you’ll encounter user overwhelm, where they struggle to navigate its many features. This leads to frustration and abandonment of your product in favor of simpler alternatives.
Attempting to solve multiple problems simultaneously can dilute your focus and resources. It’s challenging to allocate the necessary time, energy, and expertise to each problem, leading to increased likelihood of bugs, usability issues, extended time-to-market and of course, cost overruns.
So, if you’re an early stage startup considering an all-in-one strategy, here’s my advice: less is usually more.
The Power of Singular Focus
Now, let’s turn our attention to the alternative approach: focusing on solving a single problem exceptionally well. The one issue that keeps your users up at night, the primary pain point that they desperately need a solution for.
This strategy involves honing in on this one specific pain point or need and dedicating your resources and creativity to crafting the most elegant and effective solution.
And ideally, a solution that is 10X better than any other product offers.
The Benefits of Singularity
1 – Precision and Depth
When you concentrate your efforts on one problem, you can delve deep into understanding it from every angle.
This depth of knowledge allows you to create a solution that not only addresses the issue but does so with precision and excellence. Users will appreciate the care and attention to detail you’ve put into solving their specific problem.
2 – Faster Development
Solving a single problem is inherently more straightforward and quicker than tackling a multitude of issues. This means you can bring your product to market faster, gaining a competitive edge and capturing early adopters’ attention before they turn to other solutions.
3 – Clear Marketing Message
A singular focus provides a clear value proposition leading to a compelling marketing message. You can easily communicate the value of your product because it serves a single, well-defined purpose.
This clarity will resonate with potential users searching for precisely what you offer and your product will become the go-to solution in that niche.
4 – Raving Fans
By excelling in solving one problem, you’re more likely to deliver a product that exceeds user expectations. Not only will this lead to higher user satisfaction but also helps you develop ‘raving fans’ who provide positive word-of-mouth marketing… Invaluable in the tech industry.
5 – Resource Efficiency
Your time, money, and energy are precious. Focusing on one problem allows you to allocate your resources effectively, reducing both time and dollar investment.
Real-World Success Stories
To illustrate the power of focusing on solving a single problem exceptionally well, let’s take a look at some real-world success stories:
Instagram began as a web app called Burbn, allowing users to check in, post their plans, and share photos. The founders recognised that users were super engaged with their unique photo-sharing feature and decided to pivot.
They re-branded to Instagram and initially focused solely on photo sharing. They didn’t clutter their app with extraneous features. This simplicity and dedication to solving one problem—visual storytelling—led to immense popularity and eventual acquisition by Facebook.
Slack originated as an internal communication tool used within the development of an online game called Glitch. When it was realised that Glitch was not going to be profitable, they decided to repurpose the communication tools they had developed.
Slack revolutionised team communication by focusing on one issue: the chaos of email and fragmented messaging tools in workplaces. Their singular focus on improving team collaboration and communication resulted in widespread adoption and success.
Flohh is a local Australian success story. I’ve worked with this startup for several years. English teacher and founder, Ange Alcock recognised the excessive time and effort all teachers spent in the marking and assessment process.
She decided to develop a platform solely dedicated to solving this one problem. The new Flohh platform now reduces teacher’s marking time by a minimum of 40% and in the process, provides rich data to manage student assessment and progress throughout their entire education journey.
Flohh is now used by teachers worldwide because it is hands down the best assessment solution.
When building a new tech product, the key to success most often lies in focusing on solving a single problem exceptionally well. This approach allows you to create a highly valued product that users will love.
By avoiding the complexity and diluted focus of all-in-one solutions, you can deliver a product that stands out in the market because it overwhelmingly meets the specific needs of your target audience.
Remember, the journey of success in innovation is not about trying to do everything at once. It’s about mastering one thing and doing it better than anyone else, then as momentum is achieved and scale in progress, additional functionality can be added based on user feedback.
I’ll be exploring how to start building a ‘community’ early in your startup journey to simplify gathering pertinent feedback as well as attracting the right testers and early adopters… If you haven’t yet, subscribe here so you don’t miss out.
This week’s Action Steps:
Whether you’re an individual with a great idea, a small team or a leader at an existing organisation, I promise you’ll get better results and faster success by focusing on building products that solve a single problem exceptionally well.
To help you identify the ‘one problem’ you should focus on, start with these steps:
Step One: Question, question, question.
Identify various groups of target users both online and offline. Question these potential users about how they are currently solving the problem/s you are considering developing a product for.
The goal is to learn what they like and dislike about their current process and which areas cause issues or pain. Make use of a variety of methods such as interviewing, observation, surveys etc. and engage in discussions on social media – utilising comments, questions and polls.
Be sure to document all the results and feedback in a spreadsheet.
Step Two: Analyse your Data
Use your spreadsheet to identify issues, pain points, comments, likes, dislikes, etc. that recur in your data. And don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask more questions to really understand these elements.
Once you have a good grasp of the situation, it’s time to choose the biggest problem. The one that, if solved, would make the most impact on a lot of people.
Step Three: Brainstorm Potential Solutions
Brainstorm all the outcomes that a product should deliver for the best solution… And so that users will absolutely love it. Then, go back and engage with users again, asking them questions to validate your potential solution outcomes.
The goal is to confirm that the target users will truly value these outcomes.
Assuming you receive positive initial feedback, proceed to create a complete set of ‘Solution Requirements‘ before moving forward into product design and development.
In coming weeks and months I’ll be covering how to choose the best battle-tested strategies for your project and implement efficient processes to fast-track results.
Be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss out.