If you build it, they will come.”

Movie Field of Dreams

You may have heard the saying – ‘If you build it, they will come’. Yes, if what you build is needed and functional. But if not, people won’t come. This is where businesses sometimes falter: being innovative doesn’t necessarily mean they are solving a valuable problem, and being technology-driven doesn’t absolve them from addressing a local need.

In times of economic challenges, there are an abundance of problems to solve. We know that some of today’s thriving businesses were built during a downturn. However, differentiating between valuable problems and distractions is key to seizing opportunities.

Here are a few thoughts on what you might consider to #BuildBetter this season:

  1. Develop insight: Focus on first principles of problem-solving. Copy and paste will not help you, particularly if you are building in an emerging market where VALUE innovation is critical (achieving both differentiation and low cost at the same time). Get up to speed by putting yourself in the user context, understand their real frustrations and determine the system and combination of elements required to create a compelling value proposition.  
  2. Build conviction: It takes courage to build, especially when market validation is slow, and resources are lean. A business is like a child, you feed it until it matures and eventually feeds you. So, make sure you have a real conviction about what you are building, have a means of sustaining yourself financially, and have a timeline for a continue/exit decision. A timeline allows you the freedom to focus and minimize distractions. It removes the pressure of constantly asking yourself if it will work or not. You don’t need that negative energy.
  3. Experiment quickly: Become accustomed to piloting. Run quick, low-cost experiments. Launch a ‘bite-sized’ version at a lower cost to test market reception. Find collaborators with mutual interest to lower your out-of-pocket costs. Ask yourself repeatedly, what is the no-cost version of getting this done? You might not have a no-cost solution, but it will at least get you a low-cost answer. Be flexible and open-minded on how your concept might evolve based on the market response.

These three considerations don’t guarantee success, but they will minimize regrets. 

If you have an idea, a concept or a thought that keeps coming back to you, don’t ignore it. Explore it – but do so intelligently. It’s the least you owe yourself.

What tips do you have for building in challenging conditions?

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