You are at early stage

It looks like we could help you. Your business is established. We call it the ‘early stage’ phase as there is still a journey ahead.

Often the focus is around building out the business and testing the innovation.

Your leadership displays clear strengths and previous years have taught you a lot about running the business, although you might have spotted gaps across the management skill-set.

Here, an early stage client and its innovation and growth specialist talk through some of the work and results they have achieved together. Underneath the video you can find information on common priorities at this stage and below the contact form, a full array of areas we can address together.

Common priorities

Learn more about common priorities for any company at this stage in their growth journey.
  • You might have a good idea of who your customers, or potential customers are, and already have some. But are you talking to them about your offer? Now is the time to test your assumptions. Try to get into their heads, into their worlds, to understand if your idea has potential and solves pain points. You need to offer an incremental benefit.

    Are there any blockers? For example, you have found that in large organisations, the sales team loves your product, but then IT pushes back because it is too hard to implement. Therefore you might find smaller client organisations more accessible.

    Likewise, quantify the problem your product fixes. It is scalable, or niche?

    Settle on your assumptions of your customer’s top five pains and gains and go and talk to them. Politely approach them on LinkedIn, or perhaps we could introduce you to one of our other clients. Consider incentivising your approach to them by offering a free pilot.

    Ask open questions. Forget about your solution, look at the customer’s problems. What keeps them awake at night? What would make them look good?

  • First impressions count. It is important to articulate your value proposition concisely in a way your target audience will connect with.

    We ensure our clients who need to refine their value proposition, do so through a canvas which is about the customer’s tasks, pains and gains on one side and your innovation and its benefits on the other. This process will either involve flip charts and post-it notes or an online equivalent.

    From there, together, we will map your features to customer pain relievers and gain creators. Then you write a statement in the following format: Our (product / service) / Helps (customer segment) / Which wants to (job to be done) / By (addressing a pain / gain).

    Then you learn it by heart and ensure all your communications ‘say’ it, explicitly or not.

  • To know where you are going, it is important to know where you are starting from. Taking time to properly assess your current business model will help you identify what you have to do and which gaps you have to prioritise.

    Much like the value proposition work above, we take our clients through a business model canvas. It reuses the customer segment and value proposition work, then looks at channels to reach those audiences, as well as partners, activities and resources required to do it. Underpinning that, we clarify the cost structure and revenue streams and identify whether sufficient funds are in place.

  • You have validated your innovation with customer, know its (and your) value, and your business model is there; now it is time to take your prototype and test with customers.

    Whether you test with one customer at a time, or multiple, the objective is to discover which features work best and which need improving.

    There is a skill to this. Think about the research questions and analyse the data you collect. Do not ask leading questions (do you like this bit / does this help you). Rather, set the participant a task, and ask them to speak their thoughts. Record the sessions and watch them back with your team.

    Very often, even getting a prototype created is costly and complicated. We can help you find a partner, and plug you into institutions and centres that may be able to assist. Some clients have been able to access public funding, so there is no cost to them.

    Businesses should be developing and testing their minimum viable product and working with potential customers to test and validate the innovation.

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    The 9 Dimensions of Growth

    Through a deep dive analysis at the outset of our engagement with you, we can tailor our support to help you set and realise growth and innovation goals for your business. Find out more about the full 9 Dimensions audit, which is delivered by an experienced Innovate UK Business Growth innovation and growth specialist.

    Read more

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