The supply side and the demand side

It’s  very common that the technologists I mentor are almost wholly focused on the supply side of the business equation: in other words, creating their product. They tend to forget, ignore or postpone dealing with the demand side, the customers for their product.

My belief is that technologists these days can create just about anything. Not being a scientist or engineer, I virtually never challenge the assumptions behind their product development. But I do not believe that anyone can sell anything!

The problem with supply side thinking is it tends to go in a serial process: idea, demo, prototype, test, debug, beta release, MVP, full product, first update, etc. But dealing with the demand side, customer acquisition, tends to get serialized on product development, thus bring up the tail of the company’s processes.

This is totally wrong! While it’s very rare a startup can actually begin with a customer – though some of the great inventions, like VisiCalc were developed to solve a problem that the developer had – the demand side, customer development needs to start as soon as a product value proposition can even be articulated.

The more customer development can drive product development the more likelihood of successful product/market fit, which is a key to success for a business.

As Peter Drucker, noted management consultant stated:

The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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