We’re living in unprecedented times. Organizations have been forced to rapidly adopt and accommodate largely remote workforces and technology is being leveraged and relied upon in ways we never could have imagined even a few months ago. The norms we had all grown accustomed to are no longer. Despite our need to adjust and adapt to so many changes at once, it doesn’t mean that innovation has to stop—and in fact in every transformation there is incredible opportunity. But as a vendor and partner to your customers, in these unusual times, how can you gain the clarity to know whether this is the right moment to bring a new solution to market?
Here are four things you can always do to figure out if now is the right time and opportunity:
Talk to your customers
The first step should always be to talk to your customers. To fully understand how your product can better serve the market, dig in with the people who buy what you already sell. Ask them what’s working for them, what problems they have that remain unsolved, and their priorities going forward. When your customers talk to you about their problems, remember they are often building your roadmap and exposing gaps in the market that create your future opportunities.
Look for natural adjacencies
If you build cars, even if they are great automobiles, your next product probably is not naturally a spaceship (but never say never!). The same rules apply to enterprise software companies. Your highest probability of success comes from leveraging your past experiences and expertise. If your next product doesn’t align with your current portfolio, ask yourself if you’re well positioned to deliver it. Additionally, your brand and value proposition is established, so an adjacent solution allows you to leverage your past investments in go-to-market and marketing as well. Launching a new product does not mean launching a new company, but rather expanding your value proposition in a natural way.
Build something independent enough to stand on its own two feet
Even though a new product can (and often does) fit into your current portfolio, it should still be a separate, unique offering. You need a solution that can stand on its own. Everything from the product experience to the pricing model to the go-to-market should be adapted or changed to fit into and support the new product paradigm. Most importantly, the new product should have a clear value proposition.
Last but not least, when it comes to launching a new product, you can never be certain if you’re going to succeed. As an entrepreneur, that’s a risk that you have to be willing to take—especially in quickly changing and uncertain times like these. As Michael Jordan said, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” In today’s world, this sentiment could not be more relevant. Establishing product market fit is perhaps one of the hardest things for a new offering, so focus on the feedback and listen to your customers . . . and always remember that we learn something in every mistake and failure!
It’s often during challenging times that we do our best and most creative thinking, innovating, experimenting, and work. So, if you are thinking about launching a new product and you’ve listened to your customers, looked at the natural adjacencies, and developed a unique playbook, go for it!
Andrew Rubin is the CEO and cofounder of Illumio, a data center and cloud computing security company.