Having an idea, even a fairly well-thought-out idea, is not enough to pursue the development of a product. Or at least, it is not enough to have that product development be successful. Here are some basic steps you should take, and some plans you should have, before you seek a provider.


Part of having an idea and being ready to move forward with an idea involves a basic understanding of who your future client is, what their needs are, and how they might use your product or service. This is what will help you identify, among the millions of potential customers out there, who your target is and how best to connect. It is important to define this, in great detail, before you decide to move forward with development.

One way to achieve this is by completing a buyer persona profile for your potential future customer. Like replicating a virtual buyer, this process creates a checklist of their needs and wants, their decision points, their experience, and how you managed to interrupt their existing cycle of action to connect with them in a way that made them understand they could do better.

This requires understanding and defining several key ideas that are part of what is called Pirate Metrics or AARRR. AARRR stands for acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue, and is an essential component of a successful ecommerce venture. Essentially, it comes down to planning and anticipating the customer experience.

Customer experience

Where will the customer hear about you, your concept or solution? Remember that a consumer needs to hear about or from you on average seven times before they will pursue your solution, so communicating, and doing it a lot, is key.

What support will they have to understand what you do and who you are? How will you set yourself apart from others? This channel to you could include social media, blogs, videos—anything that will communicate and explain the bigger picture.

How will you accept communication from them? Keeping in mind that you will need to manage both the output and the input, what tools will you use to connect with people? Chats? Twitter? Facebook?

Define how and when people should subscribe. At what point will your potential customer be ready to make a decision and how will you support that decision process?

What will be the on-boarding process for new users, or the process through which you will explain the product to first-time users to ensure they get the most from the experience?

How will you get them to recommend your product or service so that other people will seek you out?

Create a mock-up

Providing your developer with a mock-up of how you envision an application will look and what the consumer experience will be can help streamline the work and ensure the developer has a clear idea of what you are seeking. This doesn’t have to be highly detailed and it doesn’t have to be professional, but it should take the provider through the customer experience from the first time they find you, until the time they are considering leaving.

Communicate the future

Beyond a mock-up of the starting point, you also want to have defined and communicated your product vision. This includes your reason for building the product and your passion. This will expose your personality and values to the provider, and allow you to see their take on it all. You want to work with someone with similar values and someone who understands and appreciates the vision, so getting it out there is key. Again, you are trying to find the one developer in a sea of many who will be able to best help you achieve your goal.

The future

Communicating the future also requires a clear understanding of future challenges and future steps for long-term progression. Remember, your first version will be simple, lean and inexpensive. What do you foresee adding on in the future? Of all the products and services out there, what do you want to include so that yours stands out from the crowd?

If you do have a clear future vision, you can then ask potential providers how the technology they are recommending will adapt to that future, how it will enhance the future, and why it, above others, makes sense. If you don’t have a concrete plan but an idea of where you want to go, your provider may be able to guide you.

Even a general plan is better than none to avoid the risk of being led somewhere that is irrelevant to what you want or will need down the road.

The bottom line in all of this is that you must plan for the future in order to succeed in the future, and that planning should begin from the very start.

What have your previous experiences revealed? What went right and what went wrong? What advice do you have to share about developing an early idea? Share with us here.