I believe you just know when you have a killer idea that lots of clients will love and happily pay for – if only they knew it existed.

This article will make life easier for early stage product developers and startups.

Why did I write it? Because I have been involved with seven product developments, and it almost killed me. I would like you to avoid the pitfalls and benefit from what I have learned.

You are probably aware that nine in ten new products fail to meet expectations. I am going to show you how to make ‘The Solution Canvas’ your new best friend to maximise your chance of success while protecting your downside.

Let’s start with what type of product, or solution, you could work on.

In his excellent book “From Zero to One” Peter Thiel introduces two very different kinds of product developments:

– “From Zero to One”: Developing solutions where none exist today. An example is ‘delivering electricity without wires’

– The second option represents 99% of all developments: “From One to N’. This means creating solutions that are enhancements or improvements on already known solutions, i.e. developing a faster, easier and cheaper solution to delivering products from manufacturer to the consumer’s door.

If you are working on your first product, I strongly recommend you consider “From One to N” developments, which The Solution Canvas is ideally suited to help you with.

While our world needs many more “From Zero to One” breakthroughs, unless you have a number of successful developments behind you, you are unlikely to raise the finance, attract the co-creators and goodwill required to successfully undertake the massive change in consumer behaviour required to make your solution a success.

If you feel concerned that by taking a ‘One to N’ development path, you will not benefit from ‘First mover advantage’ please consider the following: ‘What do Apple, Toyota and Google have in common?’ Apart from being massive global brands, they are all Fast Followers.

They have worked out that being a pioneer, bringing new concepts to market hoping to grasp a first mover advantage, is seldom a good idea. Pioneers risk the traditional definition; they are easily recognised by the arrows in their back.

It is much safer and provides a longer-term viable option to find something proven you can further improve and enhance and thereby make it yours.

One of the most common recommendations for people starting out is: “You must know your Ideal Client, and what their buying habits are.”

That is not entirely correct.

Reality is when you start out with a new idea; your Ideal Client is anybody who is willing to pay for it.

The answer to ‘Who is your Ideal Client?’ can never be known in advance. That knowledge you will only gain once clients have purchased your solution, and you can ask them why they bought it.

So, how do you minimise the risks of wasting your resources chasing dreams instead of real opportunities?

Let me introduce you to the Solution Canvas: The Canvas is a single piece of paper with nine blocks that will give you Structure.

Structure to:

– Make it easier to explain your vision and concept

– Maximise the probability of you developing a winning solution

– Protect you against making obvious mistakes

– Attract co-creators

– Attract finance

– Attract Joint Ventures

– Keep your project on track, and

– Provide ongoing updates to stakeholders

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