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Houston innovators: How to succeed in product development

There's no quick and easy path to product development. However, these tips should help set you up for success. rawpixel.com/Pexels

Product success is not accidental. It takes a lot of time, tools, and commitment before one can create excellent products with market success. Creating the product itself is a huge milestone, but it's also just the beginning of the journey. It takes commitment, dedication and perseverance to successfully bring a product to life and get desired ROI.

Today, we will walk you through what you should do to increase your odds of success in bringing your product idea to life.

How to get comfortable with being uncomfortable with pursuing your product idea

You will not always feel comfortable pursuing your dreams. Likely, challenges are bound to discourage you and you will have moments of doubt on your way to success. You need to have that North Star guiding you, and one of the first steps to having that star is to firmly believe and know that this product is what you want to work on.

Ask yourself if you are comfortable with not developing that product idea. If you discover that even a thought of not giving it a try makes you feel sad — try to understand why, write it down, and get ready for the journey. Equally, it is better to pull out from the start if you are comfortable with not working on such an idea. More so, don't make the plan too hard on yourself. While it is applaudable that you are getting it right, you shouldn’t see yourself as a failure if something goes wrong, especially if it's your first product. Thus, you should see the process as an experiment. Having a contingency plan will help you navigate failures. It is dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket like regular investments, so think of ways on how to utilize the developed resources in other avenues or explore that avenue simultaneously. Have an exit strategy if things go south. Knowing how to repurpose your resources is very crucial.

As we mentioned in a previous guest column, How to Take Your Product From Idea to Reality, having a board of directors or Advisors with experience in the product field is a huge plus. Build trust with them, because trust is the currency of business. They will always be by your side in the moment of doubt. Schedule a meeting with them, one or twice a month to share the progress and have brainstorming sessions.

Finally, you must learn to trust the process. Don't put too much of your focus on the final product, be open minded at every step of product development. Knowing the process and what to expect next lets you stay ahead of the game. Following the Product Development Map mentioned here [https://lanpdt.life/pdp], you will stay focused while maintaining some flexibility.

Plan on How to Minimize losses if  product development will not go as planned

At every major point of product development, developers must have a review of their set milestones and evaluate the next step which might be an investment or involvement of a new contractor or partner as an example. Make sure to set those milestones with measurable values which will help you with go/no go decisions.

When you notice that the results are deviating from the set goals (and they will), you only have to take action in minimizing losses. And making the stop decision not at a late stage. One of the ways to minimize losses is to sell resources to similar companies or those who share the sma target audience with you. It is a smart way to make enough profits to cover your losses. In the same vein, you could try to repurpose your resources to other ventures or sell the idea on Flippa-like sites. Or you could share knowledge with others as a coach or mentor in the form of a course. In essence, you must be able to think on the spot and also learn to diversify.

What tools can I use to feel more confident to start working on the idea?

Developers need tools that can help them develop their ideas better. You can get tons of information and resources online, some of the tools worth looking at are Realizr, Notion, and our favorite Demand Metrics.

Every product developer preferably needs to acquire skills in CAD, Photoshop, etc. And if your idea relates to developing an app, you should learn some basic JavaScript, however we recommend a zero-code approach for testing MVP. Getting to know the basics of 3D printing is also fantastic. And Calipers with other measuring tools are equally important.

What if I don't have enough money right now?

It's okay not to have everything figured out at the moment. You don't need to have the whole sum at the beginning. You are in a marathon and not a sprint. The most practical step is to manage your income and see if you have monthly spare to invest in your idea. If you can get partners who love your idea, you can ask them to join you and ensure you have a cash reserve.

If the capital is insufficient, you can get in touch with investors and search for grants since you're just starting. A conventional loan is the least preferred option, be careful with that.

On top of this, you should gear up and participate in pitch competitions. But make sure to practice repeatedly before attempting to convince sponsors.

Final thoughts

No successful entrepreneur has ever been made by doubting themselves. If you are not convinced about your products, how do you intend to sell that idea to prospective investors and customers? Hence, the very first step is to get comfortable with your yourself and your capabilities.

Above all, trust will take you far in business. Make sure you deliver on your promises and watch yourself blossom into something big. Good luck bringing your ideas to reality and solving the world's problems.

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Onega Ulanova is the founder of OKGlobal and partner at LA New Product Development Team.

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Building Houston

 
 

There is a clear need to upskill Houston-area young adults in IT fields, but few programs in Houston have the experience to tackle this issue. Photo courtesy of Genesys Works

Since the start of the pandemic, Texas has emerged as a national leader in job creation. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, a boom in tech, finance, and professional service employment has helped the state spur 563,000 new jobs since February 2020.

Yet companies across Houston continue to face challenges in identifying and retaining diverse talent to fill their high-growth, high-demand IT positions. Houston IT jobs are projected to increase by 18 percent over the next five years, according to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, while at the same time, the talent gap in area high school graduates widens.

The lack of diversity in the IT sector has long been acknowledged as an industry-wide challenge. Black and Latinx workers comprise 30 percent of the U.S. labor force but only 16 percent of computing and mathematical occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The systematic barriers that prevent diversity in the IT field are vast, and companies often struggle to implement successful inclusion and diversity programs. A report by Capgemini revealed that 85 percent of leadership executives believe their organizations provide equitable opportunities for career development and advancement for all employees, only 18 percent of women and minitories agree.

There is a clear need to upskill Houston-area young adults in IT fields, but few programs in Houston have the experience to tackle this issue.

One local nonprofit is dedicated to addressing this evolving workforce. Genesys Works Houston was created to bridge the gap between companies and motivated, underserved youth 20 years ago. The founders had a simple goal: to create a program that could guide motivated youth into the corporate world where they could get opportunities for meaningful employment. Now, two decades later, the organization has expanded additional chapters across the nation, and serves about 2,500 students each year with internship programs that provide coaching and counseling to high school seniors to find career pathways while helping employers fill critical talent gaps.

The program offers mentorship and coaching during the first six to nine months of employment. Additionally, thanks to a partnership with Workforce Solutions, the program also offers linkages to wraparound services — transportation, basic needs, childcare, etc. — all at no cost to trainees.

The numbers don’t lie — Houston needs to dedicate resources to upskilling its future IT workforce, and supporting organizations like Genesys Works and others can help to bridge that gap.

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Lis Harper is a strategist and account executive at Houston-based Medley Inc.

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