Any CEO of any early-stage business will know the excitement and fear of taking the plunge, dropping the financial safety net, and entering the risky world of startups.
Of the many obstacles that must be overcome on the road to entrepreneurial success, one of the earliest conundrums is how to properly define and communicate your value proposition. This may sound obvious on paper, but it’s surprising how consistently difficult it is to articulate and differentiate yourself from the crowd of aspiring innovators.
You may be convinced of the value of your product or service, but the more compelling the personal vision, the greater the risk of becoming blinkered – it’s easy to overlook stumbling blocks that may be obvious to others, or, in being so close to your product, fail to fully explain its value to both investors and customers.
From the earliest stages, it is essential to have a clear, explainable vision of your USP. The real trick – and one that few entrepreneurs are able to pull off without the assistance of an objective mentor – is to translate what you say in a pitch to what you actually do.
How well are you really describing your product – as opposed to your idea about your product? And how much thought have you actually put to the following considerations:
- Market position
- Business model and pricing strategy
- Go-to-market strategy
The majority of entrepreneurs describe all of their products or services, but none of their value. When speaking to investors, customers and internal teams alike, true value has to be described in one or more of five ways. What are the essential elements of your value proposition? In a nutshell, how do you:
- Create value
- Save money
- Save time
- Provide joy
- Remove pain
Once you’ve defined what value and differentiation you’re bringing to market, you’ll be better placed to answer these fundamental questions.
Of course, you’ll need to communicate differently depending on which stakeholder group you’re talking to. What values do you talk to your team about? What’s your exit strategy when you talk to investors? And what’s the value you’re delivering to your actual customers?
Startups need at least three presentation decks to do this justice. The real trick is to translate what you say in your pitch to what you actually do.