Launching a product can mean lots of things to a business. It can mean branching out and snagging a new buyer in a different market. It can also mean creating residual income for a service-based business. And it may be just the thing needed to turn a struggling business into a cash cow. This article examines things three of the five specific types of female entrepreneurs (also known as “Janes”) should keep in mind as they plan for (and launch) new products.
Go Jane Go is passionate about her work, and has no problem marketing and selling herself, so she has plenty of clients-but she’s struggling to keep up with demand. She may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she’s eager to make an impact on the world and may really struggle saying “no”. Because she wants to “say yes” to so many opportunities, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. During the worst of times, Go Jane Go may tend to run herself ragged or feel guilty about all the things on her “to do list” that aren’t getting done quickly enough to satisfy her exacting demands.
If you’re the Go Jane Go type, you should think long and hard before deciding to develop a new product or service right now. Yes, you may have come up with something truly innovative that will help the market you serve. But remember that not everything needs to be done at once. Sometimes, when you have a great idea, you don’t need to say “no” – but you DO need to say “not right now”.
Create a special file for yourself to house all your fantastic ideas. Before allowing yourself to put another item on the “active projects” list, first require of yourself the discipline to make room for it! This is especially important if you are feeling like your plate is too full already.
When you truly feel ready to commit to the new product or service launch, several things can make it easier for you to experience success without frustration:
1. Find something you are doing now that you can remove from your list or delegate to someone else. This will give you time to work on the new project. Alternatively, hire someone (even part-time, virtually) to design and implement the new product for you, under your direction.
2. Estimate how many hours of your personal time the new project will take. Then triple your estimate. (As a Go Jane Go, you’re excellent at what you do-but you may not realize just how much effort you’re putting into tasks. To preserve your sanity, you need to give yourself plenty of cushion for the inevitable unexpected events.)
3. Don’t just put it on your list-actually put each step on your calendar. This way, you are assured of reasonable timelines, rather than falling behind and feeling like you have to do a major crunch at the end.
Merry Jane. This entrepreneur is usually building a part-time or “flexible time” business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or an artist) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.
As a Merry Jane, when you come up with a new product or service idea that you are considering launching for your business, you want to make sure it really makes the most of your time. Before you begin, make sure you put in a step to research your market’s interest in the product first. A simple way to do this is to reach out to some of your current customers today to find out if they are interested in the overall business idea. Using your blog, you can ask provocative questions about the topic and see if it generates response. You can also send out a quick survey or even call some of your most trusted customers on the phone. Choose the method based on the size and type of customers you have.
By putting this step in place, you can feel confident the new idea is worth the investment of your time to develop. And, by reaching out to your customers first, you will likely gather information that will help you refine and strengthen the idea even further, ensuring yourself a successful launch.
Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have created something that served her own unmet needs and later found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Accidental Jane enjoys what she does and is creating a satisfactory level of income.
If you’re an Accidental Jane, you love where your business is right now, so you may feel uncertain about whether to launch your new product idea or not. The key to making this decision lies in visualizing the various scenarios that could play out if you did decide to launch it. By creating a “pros and cons” list for each of the scenarios, you can determine which path is most likely to create results you desire. Below are some probing questions to ask yourself about your new product idea before taking the additional steps to create it:
o Will doing this be something I really enjoy? Will it give me “job satisfaction”?
o How much time will it take to create this new product the right way? Am I willing to add that many more hours to my plate? Are there things I can give up to make room for it, without diminishing my income or happiness?
o What if this new product really takes off? If there’s more demand that I can serve right now, what will I do? Will I feel comfortable hiring people to help me? Will I feel comfortable letting go of other work I’m doing today to make room for it? If it really took off, how would it change the financials of my business and how I spend my time?
o If this new product doesn’t work out, how will I feel? Will I be willing to invest additional time required to fix it or market it to make sure it works? Will I feel like a failure or do I see this as an important opportunity for personal growth, even if it fails?
Since Accidental Jane is generally happy with the way things are right now, using these questions as filters to determine whether or not to launch a new product will help her make sure she doesn’t “accidentally” create results that take away some of her joy or income.
Even though all three Janes- Go Jane Go, Merry Jane and Accidental Jane- have distinct ways of doing business, each can benefit from the launch of successful new products and services. The key to doing so lies in appreciating herself and her own business needs, and pursuing new opportunities in a way that will really serve the life she wants to live.