‘Foolproof’ (great title) has been inspired by much of a working life immersed in entrepreneurial startups.
Its author, Jenny Douché likes to think of the 188 page book as a resource for anyone looking to create or grow a business.
At its core, Foolproof is about an all too often neglected or overlooked component of starting up – market validation.
That is especially, proving there IS a market before too much, or anything, has been spent on producing a product, developing a marketing plan or anything of the busy business things that all require doing in a new commercial proposition.
And while the Wellingtonian mother of two young children expresses ‘introversion’ as her particular personality profile, the May publication of Foolproof following eight months of research and writing has provided a couple of intangible (aside from recouping self-publication costs) benefits.
- Provides credibility in the market validation area
- Consolidated Douché’s own thoughts and learning on market validation
From that point of view, Douché says the book is less about building a professional profile as providing a resource for the business community – one that isn’t readily available in such a non-academic form, one that has a New Zealand-centricness.
“Most of what I read about market validation had a very narrow view on what it actually encompassed, that is it just tended to look at how the market would react to a particular offer,” she says. “Things like, what features people want, how much they’re prepared to pay. I saw very little that had a focus on potential customers’ current behaviours and on the barriers to changing those behaviours.”
Douché says nothing in business or in life ever happens in isolation, and when validating the opportunity for a new offering one needs to understand the wider context. That is, what other activities does the customer do, what other products and services do they use and how do they come cross them? It all impacts on their likelihood of using your proposed offering.
Some of the potential barriers to a business customer changing their behaviours may be uncovered by asking questions such as:
- Who in the organisation is the decision-maker?
- How much will making a change affect other systems within the business?
- What contracts might an organisation have to get out of?
- What training might be required (for the new product or service)?
- What data may have to be transported across?
Foolproof addresses current behaviours, barriers to change and finally critical success factors – “seen through my lens and interpretation of market validation,” she says.
Part of the book’s motivation also came from Douché’s time as the ‘Activate’ manager for Grow Wellington/Creative HQ. Activate’s common theme is market validation – “but it is really hard to get some businesses to do this side of things,” she says.
“But, those who did, do, most have changed their business models, some substantially. The process pointed out opportunities that were available, some people stopped their business.”
The going repetition of the need for market validation, and constantly telling and saying the same message, indicated to Douché that Foolproof’s time had come.
Douché’s aimed the book at SME’s, tried to keep it general, tried to make it all inclusive.
“When writing the book I tried to ensure that it would be applicable to all kinds of business, whether product-based, virtual or service-based. Given this there will be bits that don’t apply to all businesses, but everybody should get something valuable out of it.”
Foolproof isn’t available in bookstores, but can be purchased direct (from here) for $29.95 in hard copy or $7 as an e-book.