In our previous blog post, we introduced to you the concept of Oblique Strategies – a card-based method to provoke lateral thinking. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here!

This week we’re going to have a look at 6 Oblique Strategies that we believe are most useful for new startups or individuals that may have an idea for a new business.

1) Would anybody want it?

So, you’ve had a great idea for a business. At least, you think it’s a great idea.

At this stage of the process it’s essential to gauge interest in your product or service that you will be offering. If we understand our market then we can create great products.

To do this, you need to create your ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP). Essentially, an MVP is the simplest form of your business idea that still functions.

How to Build your Minimum Viable Product

So why develop your MVP?

  • To get information – you’ll use your MVP to find out what your customers actually want
  • Cost – it’s a lot cheaper
  • Agile – if it doesn’t work, you can change it quickly

2) Disconnect from desire

Your MVP is trying to find your core market, i.e. the people who will truly love your idea. A common response from startups when asked about their target market is “everyone”. Although this is probably the dream, it just isn’t feasible.

Essentially, saying that everyone is in your target market implies that your product or service doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular.

Your product/service should appeal to a certain audience. If you haven’t already defined this audience, simply follow the logic of ‘who has the greatest need for this product?‘ to get the ball rolling.

You need to separate yourself from your assumptions, try to look at it objectively. This isn’t your product anymore, this is just a product you are trying to sell. What is best for the product? What is best for the market you’re trying to reach? If you let your love for the product and desire for success get in the way then you’ll fall at the first set back.

3) Define an area as ‘safe’ and use it as an anchor

Building on the last couple of points, you need to define your safe area of the market, i.e. those that have the greatest need for your product or service, and will be your first users.

MVP and Your Market

Think of it like this:

  • We have an idea of a possible market
  • We have an idea of how many people might like our products… but we don’t know!
  • We use our MVP to find real customers who are excited by even a simplified version
  • These customers have time for your business, they have time for your mistakes, the rest of the market doesn’t!

4) Emphasise differences

What stands out about what you are offering? What makes your product or service special compared to your competitors? Basically, what is your unique selling point (USP)?

Your USP is what makes your offer different from everyone else, whether that means it is higher quality, a better experience for the customer, a brand new innovation, or a cheaper price.

But how do you define your USP? Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do just that:

  • List what you know about your target audience
  • List the needs that you product or service could meet for your audience
  • Talk to your target audience! Find out what they like about your proposition, what they don’t like, and how it can be improved.

5) Not building a wall but making a brick

The key thing to remember here is the whole point of developing your MVP, as we mentioned earlier:

  • To get information
  • Cost
  • Agile

So how do you actually build your MVP? The short answer is this:

  • Identify key features
  • Build a basic demonstration
  • Take it to the customers

This is a step by step process. Focus on the next task, the next solution. The wall will come together naturally.

6) Accept advice

Finally, seek advice, and genuinely give it time. It won’t always be right, but if you dismiss it, you could be costing yourself a great idea, all because you think you know best.

Everything that we have covered in this blog article is explored further in our Activate training programme – specifically designed for startups.

If you have an idea for a business, or are in the early stages of developing your business, then Activate is for you.

Over 4 weeks, we’ll help you to:

  • Identify your target market
  • Understand your customers
  • Shape your value proposition based on your customers needs
  • Create your business model in the most efficient and effective way

You can check out all of our upcoming workshops, seminars, and events over at our Eventbrite page.

Hethel Innovation provide free business support to startups and SMEs throughout Norfolk and Suffolk.

Get in touch via or 01953 859100.