Why your startup’s product offering should look like a McDonald’s menu

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While some might question the logic behind Alan Knott Craig Junior’s purchase of MXit, one can only stand up and applaud the astuteness of his first actions as the instant messaging giant’s new Owner, CEO and all round Big Cheese!

His first steps were simple, focus on what MXit’s core product offering is and make sure it is the best at it. I liken this to the experience when you walk into McDonald’s where, despite years of success around the globe, Ray Kroc‘s original idea for the McDonald’s product offering that “you’ll get the best hamburger you ever ate for fifteen cents. And, you don’t have to wait and mess around tipping waitresses” still holds true.

Regardless of the industry, all startups that have gone on to achieve greatness have had one common theme. They all continue to focus on ensuring that their core product offering is the best and that the philosophy behind making this product the best is adhered to and implemented regardless of opportunities which present themselves for short term gains in other areas. These opportunities are all seen as distractions which take away from ensuring that all staff at the company focus on implementing and improving the product in line with its philosophy.

Google’s focus is to to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Needless to say all the Google products that have had success to date play to this philosophy (Google Search, Google News, Google Maps) while projects which don’t (Google Offers — it’s daily deal site) have failed.

Ensuring that your product is the best and continually improves does not only pertain to the product itself but also to how it is marketed, distributed and the business practice behind it. Unlike the IT industry where the product is tweaked and adjusted over time in the skincare industry one seldom sees a product change its formulation after launch.

One of the great emerging markets successes a is a privately owned South African-based company called Union Swiss who produce Bio-Oil; a top selling skincare oil. Few realise that in 2001 when the two Letschert brothers purchased Union Swiss that the company contained a basket of over 120 products. By selling off all, outside of Bio-Oil, of these products, a few of which are top sellers in the market today, they were able to focus on marketing and distributing one product. This focus saw them grow Bio-Oil sales from a mere 2000 units per month in 2001 to becoming multi-million dollar top selling skincare product available in over 23 countries around the world.

My advice to any startup or entrepreneur is to make sure you take the time to develop a great product before launching it. Remember the first time you tried something you didn’t like or it didn’t work? Did you ever go back to buy it again? After that, develop a philosophy behind this product that sees you continue to focus on making this product better. And, most importantly, continually remind yourself to implement and stick to this philosophy rather than getting caught up focussing on ideas or opportunities outside of this which seem great in the short term but will ultimately see your business fail.

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