One Charming Party is in full swing. Right now we’re focused on creating new products. One of the product concepts is a download-able party plan that helps parents throw amazing birthday and other themed parties for their kiddos. It’s crazy how much time and effort we’re putting into developing this product. Thankfully, we have a great group of creative types around us to support us throughout the process. We’re not quite sure why they’re willing to put so much effort into making the product fantastic, because the money isn’t good and the hours are terrible. The only explanation is that they must have caught the vision of the project and now they’re hooked.
The point of this post and others to follow is to help others avoid some of the mistakes that we’ve made during the launch of One Charming Party. Today’s topic has to do with the making of a product. The download-able information bundle concept is something that you see a lot of folks doing these days, but not something that we had ever done before. I think that it probably goes without saying that building something from scratch for the first time involves a pretty steep learning curve, and the Party Plan build has been no exception. Below, I write concerning a couple such opportunities for continued education.
Topic 1 – Batching
During the period of time when we were starting to explore the idea of the download-able party plans, I was also reading a book that described the concept of batching. The idea with batching is that you ‘batch’ similar work together to increase efficiency. This sounded like a fantastic idea–after all, it’s much more interesting to launch a whole set of party plans rather than just a single offering. It was also likely that there would at least a few services and activities that would be common between the parties. There were several party ideas ready to go so we decided to go for it.
Three and half months into the build process and maybe 25%-30% through the batch of parties it’s starting to seem as though a slower, steadier approach to building up the product line may have been more practical. In retrospect it may have also been smarter to start with one party as a prototype and then, once we got through the whole process with one complete product, review our lessons learned refine our strategies and process, and then do the big push. It’s much easier to deal with the inconvenience of poor planning and execution of one party than with ten. With all of the mistakes I’m not sure that batching is really saving us all that much time or money. Following the advise to prototype your product first will certainly save you time and money in the end.
Topic 2 – One Small Puzzle Piece
Another interesting thing about product creation that’s been discovered and one that has been a particular source of frustration to me is that product creation is only a small piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle. The creation of the party plans has consumed much of the time and money (and will continue to do so) leaving little left for anything else. From the start it felt unnatural to be trying to market or launch a product without actually having said product in hand. That being said, it’s starting to make sense now why so many start-ups sell vapor products (e.g. a product idea sold as if it already exists). At some point prior to product completion, attention will have to be given to other aspects of the business plan. Otherwise there will be a fantastic product sitting on the shelf gathering dust waiting for the rest of the business to catch up with it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to have a complete product prior to testing the market and focusing on other aspects of your business.
The objective for creating One Charming Party has always been to create additional sources of revenue. However, any business venture is a bit of an experiment and experiments are always learning experiences. Define your objective and then devise a strategy to help you attain your objective. Take your knocks and pings along the way. Make sure that your taking notes and understand that whatever you learn this time around can be used the next time and the time after that again.