Checklist for new business development

Tiina Apilo @TiinaApilo

Should you develop new business holistically, rather than single products and services? Absolutely, at least if you want to enter the markets quickly and found a scalable business. Startups – and the companies of all sizes and ages that are seeking to mimic their approach – are rapidly shifting from design thinking to new business creation via fast experimentation.

The following eight-point checklist summarises important issues and lessons that arose from business cases during the Accelerate project. The checklist and four-phase model (the figure at the end) combine to serve as guides to business acceleration for both startups and more established companies.

  1. Step outside of the building to recognise the real problems your potential customers are facing: e.g. apply user and customer experience thinking.

Higher volumes of customer and user data are now easily available than in the past. In addition, the social media make user discussions easily accessible from behind our desks. However, user-oriented design is best begun by getting out and exploring the user environment of potential users and, in the case of BtoB customers, visiting the customer. You can identify the pain points of customers – problems whose solutions will create new business – by thinking coherently about the kind of user and customer experience you want to create.

  1. Make the whole acceleration journey with and for your users and customers.

The participation of potential users and customers in every phase of the business development journey avoids situations in which a fine product emerges without a market. You can change your designs during the development stage by playing around with solution concepts and gathering experiences and feedback.

  1. Act fast but remember to invest time in eliciting material from the problem space, competitors and indirect competitors. There needs to be a well-argued problem statement.

When referring to business acceleration, I mean getting quickly to markets of the kind that are ready to buy the solution in question. However, to clarify the problem space in question, it is worth stopping for a moment to gain a clear picture of the kind of problem you are trying to solve and what kinds of solutions already exist.

  1. Never stop with idea generation and small experiments, including with your business model. Continue it at every phase of your business.

Although idea generation is emphasised when identifying the problem, the key insights of the forthcoming business model can occur at any phase of the journey. You can gain feedback on the direction development should take through testing and rapid experiments.

  1. Use the power of social media: e.g. in identifying problems, finding solutions, creating awareness and new markets.

Due to consumerisation in general, the social media have also become an important channel of communication in the BtoB market. You could identify a problem by visiting Twitter, Facebook or reading below the line in a blog and immediately begin defining the scale of the problem, or evaluating new implementation ideas. The role of an expert is suitable for many companies, whereby they become an attractive partner and supplier via content shared on Twitter or LinkedIn and by networking with other experts. While growth hacking does not replace traditional marketing, it effectively helps the new business to gain visibility, as well as providing valuable feedback on development efforts.

  1. Test and find social media channels suitable for you: utilise multiple supporting accounts and utilise platforms’ own analytics.

You can find the most suitable social media channels through experimentation. Use them on a versatile basis at all phases of development. You could use several accounts for different purposes, instead of one corporate account. Good analytics tools are available on a range of social media platforms. Using them will provide you with a picture of which topics and solutions are of interest and to whom.

  1. To guide your journey to scalable business, progressively select and use KPIs to track customer experience, business performance and learning.

Measurement is essential to the acceleration of a new business. As in measurement in general, you should avoid having too many key performance indicators. Different indicators are needed for the different stages of new business acceleration. These will enable you to evaluate customer behaviour and business development with the correct focus for each stage. And don’t forget to measure organisational learning.

  1. Use acceleration tools & mindset and startup-like structures regardless of your company’s age and size.

New business acceleration thinking and practices can also be applied in established companies, when seeking to accelerate development and make it more customer-oriented. Whether you are in a small or large company, you can use a startup structure to try out a new, more radical type of business. A big company may favour experimenting under a different brand, while a small one may need to differentiate the development of new business from old activities due to issues such as its ownership or financial structure.

Phases

” These were all very important questions which I think, on a high level, are precisely the things that, if you can’t answer any one of them, then you need to stop and go back.”

This text brings the series on the Accelerate phase model to an end. Previous publications on the model include How to accelerate the development of new business activities?, Without problems there are no solutionsProblem-solution fit, Finding a value proposition and Scaling and building a sustainable business.

The quotes are comments from companies, given in validation interviews for the Accelerate model, on their own business acceleration stories.

 

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