How do you decide when it’s time to create a new product or service for your company?
I’ve had several conversations this past week that somehow all ended up at the same place, with the other person asking me to provide a specific product line.
The funny thing was, they were all asking for exactly the same thing!
As I told one of my very dear friends, one of the several that asked for this product line, I have a general set of rules for when I need to think seriously about starting something new. Guess what the first rule is?
Rule 1: More than 3 people are asking
Proximity is an important factor on this rule. If three people ask me to add the same service, but the requests are spread across years or even decades, it doesn’t count.
However, when three or more people ask me for the same thing within a matter of days, it’s time to start paying attention.
This is especially true when those people have absolutely no connection to each other.
When there is no way they could have conspired together to suggest something new, and yet the suggestions sound almost like carbon copies of each other, I start assessing what they’re saying.
Are they seeing something I’m not seeing?
Are they knowledgeable enough about the field to give an informed opinion?
What strengths do I have that inspired them to suggest I would be the perfect person to fulfill this need?
Once I understand more about what is inspiring these people to all make the same suggestion, I can move forward with the next step.
Rule 2: Does it fit my existing structure?
I’m a writer. If folks are suggesting I suddenly turn in my keyboard and take up space travel, that’s not terribly likely, at least, not at this point in my career.
If the suggestion is instead to write a story about space travel, we might be onto something. But that wasn’t the suggestion.
This rule is all about looking at how the new idea might fit with my existing structure.
Would it add to the value of current offers? Will it help my current clients? Future clients?
It might be a great idea, but if it’s completely unrelated to what I do, it might not be a good idea right now.
Of course, if that book is something I’m ghostwriting on behalf of an expert, that would be a different story. In that case, it completely fits with what I’m already doing now.
Not likely to be pitched by three completely unconnected people, but at least it’s within my range.
Rule 3: Do I have space for it?
The third rule is to look at what I’m doing now. I know, that sounds a lot like the second rule, but it’s different.
In this case, I’m not looking so much at how the idea fits with what I’m already doing – that’s reserved activity for the second rule. Instead, I’m more focused on what I’m actually doing now. As in, my days are currently filled with…
For example, right now, I’m in the middle of putting the finishing touches on a new coaching program and taking care of existing client work.
Since I’m already engaged in starting something now, this is probably not the best time to launch into something else new.
I’m not sure about you, but one new thing at a time usually works better for me.
So, while the suggestion I’m hearing out there passes Rule 1 and Rule 2, it doesn’t pass Rule 3.
I love the idea and I plan to pursue it, just not right at this moment. Which always brings up the nagging follow-up question…
Bonus Rule 4
What if now is the best time for me to do this? Could I be passing up on an amazing opportunity that could change my life forever?
Maybe you’ve suffered with FOMO (fear of missing out), too.
Somewhere in the back of my brain is a little voice that worries the reason all those different people are approaching me with the same idea is because now is the exact best time for me to do this. If I don’t jump on the idea, I’ll lose the chance to ever make it happen.
In some cases, this may even be true. There are times when you have to seize the moment because it will never happen again. That time you decided not to risk a few thousand bucks to help a friend launch his website business and now it’s making millions per year, for example.
But these moments are few and far between. Most of the time, my fear is nothing more than a mind-trip. When FOMO starts to creep up, I pause and take a step sideways.
In these situations, I’m not backing down.
The idea is still on the table, but I need to fully understand all the consequences. FOMO creeps in when I’m thinking about all the things I might miss out on if I don’t take the chance right now.
Rather than stepping back and retreating from the situation, I’m stepping to the side to look at the situation from a different angle. It’s an important distinction.
What I often need to remind myself of is the consequences I might have to deal with if I DO take the chance right now. In business circles, this is often referred to as opportunity cost.
Usually, from this new angle, I can see things more clearly and the FOMO feelings melt away. While now might be a good time for a particular opportunity, it also might be the perfect time to mess up everything else I’ve been working on.
So I’m curious, what kinds of rules do you have in place to decide whether to add something new to your product line?
Or what do you do to combat those sneaky FOMO fears that creep in when you’re not paying attention?