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Maher Al Musallami
Maher Al Musallami

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Defining the Value Proposition

“Value proposition refers to the value a company promises to deliver
to customers should they choose to buy their product” - Alexandra

Recently I’ve been working as a product manager for a few
early-stage startups that are building their first product and I noticed
that most of them struggle with defining their value proposition.
I am writing this article to give some guidelines that will assist
early-stage startups, and their product teams to define their value
Defining the value proposition is a crucial step in the "Lean Product
Process" developed by - Dan Olsen. This is important because that is
what convinces a customer to buy from you and not your

The Invisible Wall
Defining the value that your product intends to deliver is the step
that follows identifying your customer needs. In this step you must
set your mind on which of the customer needs your product will
satisfy. Here is where the issue I noticed arises, startups have a
tendency to try and tackle a wide range of problems. This creates an
“invisible wall” that blocks the success of their product. The reason I
am calling it an “invisible wall” is because, you will not be able to see
the problem until it is too late, which is after launching the product,
by that time you have already consumed so much of your resources
and time on it.

How to overcome the invisible wall
Your product must be built with a focus on the set of needs that are
critical to your target audience. Products tackling a wide range of
customer needs have a higher chance of facing issues, in both the
problem space (determining your target customer) and the solution
space (technical issues in your product).
When working on your first product, it is important to understand
that you still don’t have enough information on what your potential
customer actually wants.

The uncertainty in the hypotheses is often overlooked by the
startups when building their product, this is a huge mistake. A good
startup with a strong product team should always keep in mind that
the hypotheses formed initially on the customer needs might not be
entirely correct, and after testing the product with users you might
have to come back and make some changes to your hypothesis
which means you will have to make changes in your solution as well.
I have noticed that startups tend to get too confident with their
hypotheses. That is why they end up tackling a wide range of what
could potentially be customer needs. At this point when you realize
some of your assumptions were wrong, it will be extremely
expensive to make changes, chances are high that this might kill your
product. Good startups must only allow their confidence in the
hypotheses to increase proportionally with the information that they
gather from the users or the market. Being able to determine which
of the needs to tackle is an important skill. However, determining
which needs not to tackle requires even more skill and talent.

When building a product it is easy to get carried away with the
temptation of solving more problems. However, startups must spend
enough time, and effort making sure that if their solution requires
some changes after testing it in the market, they can make the
needed adjustments. In addition to that, startups must be aware of
the fact that they most probably will have to revisit their hypotheses,
and make changes in the product they built.
Concentrating on defining a clear value proposition will help you
avoid wasting your resources which you cannot afford especially
when building an MVP. It will also keep you from launching a product
that is not valuable or usable.

Follow me on twitter @Almsalmi_

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