If you shift the nose of an airplane by a few degrees, a plane leaving Los Angeles for New York 🗽 will end up in Washington D.C. 🏛️

You probably won’t notice it on the runway. You might not even notice it until you’re in the air. Seemingly small mistakes early on make a big impact on the long-term.

It’s the same with product development.

If you’re not testing and validating your ideas, you’re putting your product and your business at risk. If the average development cost for a quality app ranges between $100,000 to $1,000,000 dollars, that’s a significant investment in resources. Not only that, if you consider the opportunity cost, the true cost of building the wrong product could be much higher in lost revenue.

The good news is that you have the tools to calibrate the direction of your product. It requires more upfront work but it’s better than having to course correct midway, or worse, after you’ve launched your product.

1️⃣ Identify and understand your “best-fit” customers.

If you already have raving fans, spend time with them and have them tell you why they love your product. These “best-fit” customers are who you should be building your product for.

If you don’t have an established customer base, it’s too early to commit to a big build and launch. Take the time to speak with the people you want to serve and seek to understand their challenges intimately as you get ready for the next step.

2️⃣ Prototype and test with real customers.

Spend a week to quickly prototype your idea. The prototype doesn’t have to be a finished or polished version. It just needs to look “real enough” so you can collect meaningful feedback from prospective customers.

3️⃣ Iterate until you’ve met customer needs.

Be prepared to accept that v1 of your prototype might not hit the mark. You’ll need to keep on iterating until you’re able to satisfy your customer’s needs. Make sure you have a process for iteration so you can be consistent with the way you incorporate customer feedback.

You’ve now spent your time understanding your “best-fit” customers, you’ve prototyped multiple times with real customers, you’ve incorporated feedback into your product. Now it’s time to launch with confidence.

Of course, this isn’t the end of it. The product build itself will require adjustments that will involve your product, marketing, and sales team as new information comes in. If building a product that customers love and is like building, flying, and landing a plane, we need all hands on deck.

Write to me in the comments below what challenges you’re facing with building your product, and I’ll send you some suggestions for how you can point it in the right direction.