You are an employee of a company that provides a much needed and highly regarded service to your clients.
You rely on a number of products to successfully render this service.
Lately, you’ve been getting very frustrated with one of the products – it’s been failing randomly, and your clients have been suffering because of it.
You ask around and find out that your colleagues all complain about the same problem.
Has no one found a solution to this?
It seems like it should be an easy fix, the alteration to the product would be minimal – or so you think.
You start researching to find out if there’s something out there, but you find nothing substantial.
You find a lot of people in your profession complaining about the same thing.
Some people have hacked together a fix, but they still report a material failure rate.
So, being the enterprising individual that you are, decide to do something about it and solve this problem once and for all for your clients. You’re tired of seeing them suffer because a simple product doesn’t work as expected.
You go to your manager and ask her to cut your hours so you can spend time inventing.
She tells you no – the problem that you’re talking about isn’t big enough for us. The 1% of clients that we lose because of it isn’t big enough. If it was a big enough problem, someone would have solved it already.
Plus, you’re not allowed to test non-approved products on clients without going through the proper channels. That all takes time and money that we don’t have.
Besides, you’re one of her best employees – it would be a big loss to the team if you cut your hours.
You tell her that you’re going to do it anyway, that you’re tired of losing clients even though it may not be very many.
You go back and forth a bit, and you finally negotiate two days a week off – with a small pay cut – to work on your “pet project” as it’s being called.
“Once you’re done playing around you’ll get your full hours back, and maybe pay, if I’m feeling generous…”
Hmm, the part your boss said about testing your product is going to be challenging. If you’re not allowed to do it with your own clients, you’ll have to find others to test it. And going through the right channels will take a lot of time and money.
You have the time, but you don’t have the money.
But, you don’t need it right now so you get to the drawing board.
Besides, you’ve found your first client willing to accept the risk of using a new product – yourself.
After two months you have a working prototype.
You’ve tested it on yourself as many times as you possibly could have.
You even got a couple of your friends to test it out – under the table of course – and it’s worked perfectly every time.
But, you don’t have enough data to prove that it works every time. In order to get something better than anecdotal evidence you need to go through the proper channels.
Luckily, you’ve been socializing what you’re working on with friends and colleagues, and you remember that someone messaged you a while back offering help when you needed it.
You dig up his message and check out his profile. Seems to be a pretty renowned industry veteran, helping many companies bring their products to market.
Seems like a great guy.
You send him a message explaining your situation and what you need to do to be able to use it with your clients, and maybe get the rest of your company to use it.
He calls you back and you talk:
You’re not seeing the big picture here. Forget the company you work for.
How many clients do you see a day?
Maybe eight on average.
How about your company?
Probably about a hundred in my divisions, there’s six other divisions.
And how many people, worldwide, receive the service everyday?
No idea, millions I suppose.
So what would you rather have, a few hundred sales or millions every day?
Millions. I think I see where you’re going with this.
Yup. If this works, you’re gonna be rich real quick if your product is as good as you claim.
What I need you to do now is quit your job, talk to your lawyer, patent the hell out of everything you can think of related to what you’ve made, then patent products you haven’t thought of yet.
Did you spend any company money or resources to develop your thing?
Good, no problem there then.
Well, I did have a few friends test it out to help me get more data points
Can you trust them?
Good. Get your lawyer to draft up a confidentiality agreement just in case. Give them some shares if you need to.
Ok, but what about testing? I don’t have enough money for all the patents, and I certainly don’t have enough data points to prove that it’s effective.
I’ll help with that. This isn’t my first rodeo, bud.
Turns out your new business partner has a lot of connections to make things happen in your industry.
Just four months after getting your first set of patents approved, you had enough test data to seek official approval through the proper channels.
Now you’re traveling all over the country getting companies, like the one you used to work for, to agree to buy your product as soon as it’s approved.
They’re sold on the fact that it’s effective, easy to use, and reduces risk.
And of course, the reason you started on this journey in the first place, the limbic finisher: It’s going to prevent millions of lost clients every year.
They can’t say no.
Well, some do, but not very many.
When the official approval goes through, you reach out to all of your customers to congratulate them on being the first to use the product that’s going to change everything.
Sales go starkly up and to the right.
As you get more customers, more market share, and more revenues, you’re able to bring on more skilled and knowledgeable people to improve the product, create better marketing, and get more customers.
After just seven years, you’ve been able secure 80% of the addressable market in your country, and a large number of customers internationally.
But your business partner says work is not done.
There are two things we can do at this point. One, increase market share, and two, increase the size of the addressable market.
I suggest we do both.
What about the new products we’ve been working on? Shouldn’t we push them forward?
Yes we’ll do that too, but we still have a long way to go with our first!
Sounds hard. I don’t follow. We’re near market saturation. How do we increase the size of a set market?
Why did you originally want to create this product?
To keep clients from being lost.
Based on our studies, how many client losses have we prevented?
Exactly. The product that we have is something special, something that every company wants – they want it so they can provide a better service to their clients.
Our market was set only because the client was defined as one who needed that service.
Without this service, our product would be useless.
If you think about it, our product only exists because of this service.
This service, would you say that this service is important?
How very important?
It’s a highly regarded and much needed service. Everybody should get it.
Why should everyone get it?
They’d be foolish not to.
You got it. The way we’re going to increase the size of our market is by going to officials and appealing to their humanity.
And appeal you did. Heavily.
Your officials became happy to update their statements to advise a greater proportion of the population to receive the service.
All of a sudden, as you increased the denominator in your calculations, your market share dropped from 80% to 65%.
No change in product, no loss in existing customers – just a lot more people now recommended to receive the service (and your product).
You have a lot more room to grow now.
You can always appeal again in the future.
Perhaps your officials may even require people get the service.
One day you get a rather serious call from your business partner.
You can tell because of the tone in his voice.
Nothing serious yet, but just thought you should have it on your radar. Let me know if you hear anything.
There’s a prominent fellow at one of our research centers that seems to be doing some unapproved research. I’m not sure how it happened, but we have to be ready to respond if it gets out of hand.
I’ve heard that he’s moving on up.