Hello SOTGC community,
Stage 1: Opportunity Discovery (I’ve got a great idea!)
Stage 2: Commercialization (I’m validating and pivoting my idea)
Stage 3: Startup (my idea is now ready for Startup)
Stage 4: Growth (startup going well. I’m ready to grow my business)
Stage 5: Exit (time to Exit this business and start my next big thing)
Stage 6: Leadership (what’s my next big thing?)
In this post we tackle Stage 1: Opportunity Discovery. I am again interviewing Patti Fletcher, CEO of PSDNetwork, LLC, an expert on female executives and entrepreneurs in high-growth industries.
Heather Boggini: Patti, let’s jump right into a discussion of Opportunity Discovery with the assumption readers are familiar with your overview of the 6 stages.
Start from the beginning with a definition or description of Opportunity Discovery. As an entrepreneur, what is happening to me or what am I experiencing in this stage?
Patti Fletcher: This is an exciting stage because it is when you are free to think of what is possible. You are in the very beginning of feeling that surge where you know you have an idea for a product, a service, or both that you can either do better than an existing business or that no one else has thought of yet.
Boggini: And what is happening to the business (or my business idea) in this stage?
Fletcher: If you are new to entrepreneurship, then you have not yet formed a business around your idea. In this first stage, you are creating ideas and ways to deliver on your idea that are unique and provide a different value-based solution than any other current offering.
Boggini: Can you share a relatable story or scenario of a woman in the midst of Stage 1?
Fletcher: My good friend, Colleen Phelps, founded a for-profit running club for young teenage girls called Strivers. She created the club because, at the time, she had no way of sharing her love of health and the benefits of running with her own daughter. She looked around at other programs and could never find one that focused on growing a runner from the inside out, particularly a program that is tailored to adolescent girls.
Colleen spent her Opportunity Discovery phase testing out ideas with her daughter’s friends and the parents at school pick-up and at her children’s sporting events. The great thing is that the more she engaged with her target audience (the user was the daughter and the buyer was the parent), the more her customers became interested.
Boggini: What is most exciting thing about Opportunity Discovery? And what are the most common pitfalls an entrepreneur should watch out for?
Fletcher: In this phase, an entrepreneur feels limitless. She has not market tested any of her ideas and has heard mostly good things. She’s not thinking about how to make money in practical terms. It’s a very exciting time! Lots of mindmaps and open discussions. What’s not to love?
A common pitfall is that entrepreneurs create ideas in a vacuum. They are too afraid to share their ideas with others because they are waiting for perfection. As we learned from Colleen’s example, when you engage your target audience in the process of creation, they become your early adopters.
Boggini: At what point does she know she is ready to move on to Stage 2 (Commercialization)? Are there certain indicators she should look for?
Fletcher: A key way to know that you are really, really onto a great business opportunity is if you are able to answer these 4 questions:
- Have you clearly identified the problem you are solving?
- Have you clearly identified your target persona?
- Have you engaged your target persona in the creation of your solution?
- Have you iterated your idea to be the best of the best ideas?
Boggini: When and why might she revisit Opportunity Discovery at another time in her Journey?
Fletcher: Anytime you have a new product or service idea or you are creating the next version of an offering, you should revisit the first 3 stages: Opportunity Discovery, Commercialization, and Start-Up.
Boggini: For my last question, if women experience e-ship differently than their male counterparts, is there anything unique about her experience at Stage 1? And what are the implications of those differences?
Fletcher: Women tend to be a little less willing to share their ideas in the early stages. My advice: Get over it! Test your ideas and don’t worry about being judged. Get excited about the problem you are solving and others will be too.
Boggini: Thank you Patti and next time we’ll talk about Stage 2: Commercialization.