Books By

product development

Startup Assembly Manual Nominated for Small Business Book Awards 2016

From Small Business Trends:

“The focus of “Startup Assembly Manual” is squarely on the product in the “startup” process. Most “startup advice” books focus on the marketing and inspiration needed to launch a product, but only a few focus on the product, which drives the whole thing. Without a good product (or service), your startup will not successfully launch. The book, in particular, embraces its own self-developed methodology, “ACE methodology” (Assess, Confirm, Execute), which focuses on analysis validation, and constant feedback to refine marketing and product design. It features one of the simplest and most straightforward formulas for pricing that a reader will ever see.”

Do you have a brilliant idea for a product or a business and you want to start your own company? SAM is a book for aspiring entrepreneurs who have a great idea and no clue how to go about bringing their dream to reality.

It is focused on the foundation of any successful business: proving you have a saleable product first.

SAM is built from Mr. Freriks’ ACE Methodology, which embodies three basic steps: Assessment, Confirmation and Execution. It is a process of Assessing yourself, your customer, your product… Continue reading

URGENCY – Foundation of a saleable product

A lot of articles talk about ‘creating’ urgency in order to sell your product. However, I don’t think you can base your product’s salability on hoping marketing and sales manipulations will create a motivated customer.  If your target customer does not already have some urgency in finding a solution to the problem he has, it will be hard to pump up urgency to a point where a prospect becomes a customer.

The customer who is prepared to take money out of his pocket and give it to you is a motivated customer; he is motivated to find a solution to a problem he knows he has. Motivation drives sales—an unmotivated prospect will not become a customer. The ease with which you create that actionable level of motivation is a direct function of urgency: more urgency, more motivation.

Urgency is used to judge how easy it will be to sell your product. Really easy is good; it means you don’t have to work too hard to make the sale. I’m not saying it is good to be lazy, I’m saying that you can make more profit with X number of marketing/sales dollars than you can if you have to… Continue reading

First, Get A Product You Can Sell–Part 1

I have been consolidating and prioritizing my messages for early-stage entrepreneurs. I think that success starts with one simple task: coming up with a product that people will buy. I often talk about bringing ambition and commitment to the table, and that is critical as well, but no amount of ambition or commitment is going to overcome the lack of a product that people, people other than yourself, will see VALUE.

You probably have a product or service idea you want to build into a business; otherwise you might not be reading this. Whether you’re starting a physical-product business, a consulting business, or a retail store, the most important question you have to answer is this: will people give you money for it? Remember: without revenue from paying customers, you won’t have a product to build a business around. So, before you invest a lot of time in building a business plan or developing the final product, the challenge is to make sure your product will provide a substantial value to a lot of people, value sufficient to induce them to part with their money in exchange for it.

How do you create sufficient value? Value is a function of… Continue reading

Idea dating. Shiny Objects Syndrome.

Few people succeed by bouncing around from cool idea to cool idea. If you’re an inventor like me, you have a couple “great” ideas a day. Cool ideas have a life span; some live longer than others. A successful business is based on a cool idea to which you dedicate your energies, committing your time and talent to develop and nurture it. It takes extended focus. That is contradictory to the nature of the guy who thinks up a dozen cool ideas a month, each having some degree of limited focus. It’s tough; many inventors love the creation more than the execution.

It’s not unlike the person who dates a lot of people looking for that “special” person. When I was single man, I dated a lot of women and evaluated each relationship carefully. Some lasted a night, some lasted a week, and some might last a month. My evaluation process was quite rigid, basically looking for all the reasons it wouldn’t work out.  It was an exhausting process, and I thought it might never end.

It did.  I finally met a woman who had me checking all the boxes rather quickly. I even created new boxes, trying… Continue reading

Entrepreneur mistakes I made – Part Deux

I invented NOAH, an animated character technology for online applications. It was very effective and successful for online training projects, bridging the gap between instructor-led and pure online coursework. We adapted it to work on our website, a cute little avatar flying around and pointing at things and explaining benefits and action items, popping up graphics in the middle of a speech, and so on.  Several (I stress the word “several”) people mentioned how cool it was, so I, being the addicted entrepreneur I am, decided to expand the product line by developing NOAH for websites.

The new product required an easy interface where customers could build their own avatar and design what it said and did on the page. That was expensive programming. And, we couldn’t resist adding every cool feature we thought of. After 8 months and lots of dollars, we launched it.

It was a party that no one came to. We’re waiting. We’re waiting. Nothing. A competitor, SitePal, seemed to be working (we really didn’t know how well it was doing), so we figured we’d just keep marketing it a things will work out.  They didn’t. No one (OK, we had two customers)… Continue reading

Working out Your Competitive Advantage

There are very few unique ideas in the world; don’t think you are the first person in the billions of people in the world to think of it. The difference between success and failure relies on a lot of factors, like management and customer service, but every successful product has some distinguishing characteristic, some competitive advantage, that sets it apart from the competitors.  These unique characteristics succeed because the customer sees more value in them—and consequently, in your product—than other products.

Not every successful feature translates into a competition-crushing product.  Your product may have a price advantage, but that might only appeal to a small part of the market interested in ease of use.  Your product may be blue instead of red, and that, for some crazy reason, might appeal to a huge part of the market, making your sales skyrocket. There are tons of examples of products in which a seemingly simple difference made a huge difference.

So, finding that simple difference can lead to success. How do you find it? I’ve been studying sales process for many years and I think I have an idea. In sales, one important thing to ask prospects is how… Continue reading

How do you get “Great Ideas”?

QV-7When aspiring entrepreneurs finally realize they have what it takes—desire, passion, drive, ambition— to be successful, they inevitably ask: “what great idea do I use to start my business?”

Or, it is the other way around: They have great ideas and ask: “now what?” and “do I have what it takes?”

I wrote my book for the last group, but I find there are a lot of people in the first group, too.  One thing is common to both, however: the word “idea”.   The second group already came up with an idea and the first group needs to come up with an idea.  So, what’s the process of coming up with “ideas”?

I don’t necessarily believe in the pure “light bulb going on” explanation.  Great ideas come from somewhere.  Like the first big bubble of a pot of water set to boil for spaghetti, getting a worthy idea doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of planning (filling the pot, turning on the fire) and time. The water just sits there for a while, the potential for boiling just invisibly building up. There are a bunch of little bubbles, but barely noticeable, especially if… Continue reading

Testing Assumptions with Customers

When you are testing the assumptions you generate in the Assessment stage of the ACE Methodology, you have to first define and verify them through research in the Confirmation stage.  This means asking a lot of prospective customers the three critical questions: 1) do they really have the problem you think they do?, 2) do they have an urgent need to solve it?, and 3) does your product seem to offer a compelling solution? The customer investigation process is an important part of designing a successful product.

To do this, you have to ask people these questions, either in-person or virtually.  Conducting face-to-face interviews is best because you can judge their reaction and ask probing questions.  In Startup Assembly Manual, we discuss the Seven Steps of customer investigation; it’s a sales process structure.

Virtual interviews need a different strategy.  You have to test your marketing message through a web site or social media to get the answers to the questions. The best method I’ve tried on the web is where your home page has a random redirect function to four different pages.  Each page has a different message, which basically asks… Continue reading

ACE Methodology – Personal Assessment 1

ACE Methodology

ACE Methodology

The concept behind the ACE Methodology for Startups applies itself well to most endeavors intended to create success. The Startup Assembly Manual uses it to lay out a road map for entrepreneurs and people with an idea but no clue what to do with it.

ACE is Assessment, Confirmation, and Execution. The Assessment stage leads you through the process of assessing yourself, your customer, your product, and your business idea. From that comes a set of assumptions which are refined, defined, then tested in the Confirmation stage – first with research and customer investigation then with sales. When you have a proven set of assumptions, you build a business plan and Execute it.

In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most important assessments you will make, personal assessment.  In future articles, we’ll discuss more personal qualities that make up a foundation of success.  But, let’s start with this:

After forty years of being an entrepreneur and knowing a lot of them, certain personal characteristics seem to determine success or failure. Someone asked me what is the most important trait of a successful entrepreneur.  I answered: objectivity. This is the ability to see things… Continue reading

DeadSight

Sequel to ALONE

Mason and Amy Banks, Jacobs/Benson Thriller

Mason and Amy Banks thought they would enjoy a peaceful retirement from a career of delivering swift justice to bad people.

They wouldn’t.

Much of how the brain functions remains unknown. But Doctor Feng Zhuang was convinced he had discovered a world-shattering secret.

And some unscrupulous people discovered a way to take unfair and cruel advantage.

Available on Amazon