In the vivid world of dreams, I found myself engaged in a captivating dialogue with none other than the legendary expert in products himself, Steve Jobs. As we delved into the complexities of why products or businesses may meet their demise, Steve’s voice resonated with a tone of seasoned wisdom and remarkable experience. His words flowed like a captivating story, filled with anecdotes that sought to explain the concept to me, a mere layman to him.
“Listen closely,” Steve began, his eyes gleaming with an undeniable passion. “Not every product or business can ascend the heights of success, regardless of how many times you tweak pricing strategies, sales models, marketing ploys, or monetization tactics. You see, it all boils down to one crucial truth: people simply may not want your solution.”
He went on to emphasize the harsh reality faced by small business owners, who pour their heart, time, and money into creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Steve recounted encountering countless individuals who clung steadfastly to their original MVP, believing it to be a stroke of genius that was bound to find its market someday. But sometimes, he explained, it’s essential to take a step back and ask ourselves the critical questions.
“In my experience,” Steve continued, his voice punctuated with thoughtful pauses, “I’ve categorized these questions into four distinct buckets. Answering them is no easy feat; it requires dedicating time, detaching yourself from your product, and approaching them with a clear and unbiased mind. Only then can you truly review and make informed decisions.”
Leaning in, I listened intently as Steve elaborated on the four fundamental questions that held the key to understanding product failure.
“The first question revolves around value,” Steve declared, his eyes sparkling with intensity. “You must ponder whether your product holds genuine value—will people actually buy it? And even if it’s a free service, will people willingly choose to use it? To truly answer these queries, you must engage with your customers. Your own judgment will invariably be clouded by bias.”
Moving on to the second question, Steve’s voice took on a contemplative tone. “Usability is paramount, assuming people indeed desire to use your product. Can they figure out how to use it without constant handholding? You see, it’s not practical to personally guide each user every step of the way. If your product possesses a steep learning curve, users will grow frustrated and forgetful. This, in turn, will lead to soaring customer support costs and a lack of genuine satisfaction.”
A gleam of caution filled Steve’s eyes as he approached the third question: feasibility. “Nowadays, with everyone rushing to integrate machine learning and AI into their offerings, it’s easy to get swept up in the trend and envision grand possibilities. But to thrive, you must ask yourself: Do you possess the knowledge to build this solution? Does your team possess the necessary skills? Do you have the required technology stack at your disposal? And if not, do you have the time to conduct extensive research and build from scratch? Remember, competition with advanced technology and efficient teams may swoop in and seize the market before you even get a chance.”
Finally, Steve’s gaze settled upon the fourth question: viability. “Ask yourself whether your concept can sustain itself as a viable business,” he advised, his voice steady and resolute. “Can you afford to invest in it? Have you established effective channels to bring your product to the market? And crucially, at the furthest extreme, is it even legal to build upon the idea you have conceived?”
Steve’s words hung in the air, leaving me with a profound understanding. It became clear that a successful product must embody value, usability, feasibility, and viability. Any shortcomings in these areas can spell doom for even the most promising ventures.
*crafted based on my notes and with assistance from ChatGPT