These Useful B2B Products Make You Feel Successful

Emotion plays a very strong role in why customers buy and use products. This is even more important for B2B products where the buyer is not always the user.

Building B2B products that drive highly engaged users can be difficult. You find yourself balancing the needs of new customers while keeping your current customers engaged with added value.

The following B2B products have been built very intentionally to drive an emotional response from users. By using these products, users immediately feel more successful doing their job.

Trello

I love this product. It’s a great way to keep track of anything organized across a team of people. Trello’s simple lists and cards are such a delight to use because they are so simple.

Cards are self contained list items that can contain assignments, due dates, attachments, etc. Lists can be used for categories or statuses. The flexibility is part of what makes it so great.

trello

Using Trello will make you more organized. Dragging a card from “Doing” to “Done” will always make you feel like you’ve made progress.

Better productivity doesn’t always make you feel successful, but Trello is able to accomplish both.

Slack

Who would have thought that in 2015 you could innovate the chat room experience. There’s no shortage of solutions on the market, so how has Slack been so successful?

They’ve focused on building the best damn team communication product ever.

Slack is not just about chat. I’s about the community, the integrations, and the teamwork.

slack-screenshot

If your team uses Slack, you’ll immediately see the benefits in your business. People will be more in touch and you’ll see reduced re-work.

Buffer

This little app is epitome of a B2B product built as a delightful customer experience. Buffer is a B2B product for better sharing on Social Media. Their app connects to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. accounts and posts content you select on your behalf at scheduled times.

buffer

The delight in Buffer’s product lies in the feeling that they’ve got it taken care of. All you have to do is find content you want to share, “Buffer it” and it’s taken care of.

Square

Square’s product has come in like a wrecking ball and disrupted the small business credit card processing market. Their product has lowered the barrier to starting a business.

square-stand-register

Square’s combination of hardware and software products make it dead simple to start accepting credit cards. Entrepreneurs find immediate satisfaction in being able to collect money for their products and services.

Entrepreneurs need nothing more than a bank account, product, and smartphone to be in business.

Square has empowered entrepreneurs by removing the barrier to be in business.

Moleskine

Bet you didn’t expect this one. I never said B2B products had to be apps.

Moleskine notebooks keep you on track and be the landing place for all your fleeting thoughts and ideas.

moleskine

All of these products have a few things in common…

  1. The product creates immediate value. The reason for using this app is obvious to the user. The user draws a correlation between using this product and an improvement in their ability to do their work.
  2. There’s a very low learning curve. The user can get started quickly with little to no training. This reinforces point one where the user is able to see the value immediately.
  3. The product is delightful to use. The user enjoys using the product. They are so excited by using the product that they are willing to tell their friends or colleagues about it.

Are you delighting the people who use your product?

 

 

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Introducing The Startup Product Manager

Dear startup founders,

Today’s the day. I’m launching my first service offering just for you. You’ve launched your first rev of your product, you’re growing your company, but you find yourself stuck between closing early sales and shipping product. You really need a product manager, but you don’t have the time to recruit or the budget to hire the right person.

I’m here to help.

You see, I’m a startup veteran with five years of experience leading product for web and mobile products. I managed product at Central Desktop through an acquisition.

After a few months of searching for my next adventure, nothing seemed right. My passion is helping startups continue to ship incredible products.

So today I’m launching an offering for early stage startups that need the help of a professional product manager.

For just $1500 per month (and no equity!), I’ll be your trusted product advisor to help you carry your product’s vision forward so you can focus on turning your idea into a company.

Here’s how it works:

Monthly check-ins

Each month we’ll have a check-in call via Skype or Google Hangouts. We’ll review key metrics, customer feedback, development timelines, and competitors.

Throughout the month, we’ll be in contact via email and using a web-based collaboration tool.

Idea Validation

I’ll help you validate new product ideas. Send me the napkin sketch from the bar and I’ll break it down and evaluate the idea. I’ll talk to some of your customers (or target customers) and see if the idea has legs.

Product Strategy

We’ll work together on formulating a killer product vision, strategy, and roadmap. Your startup’s growth will hinge on building the right products for the right market. Let’s not waste time and money building the wrong things.

Wireframing & User Stories

Let’s face it, sometimes the most mundane tasks need to get done. I’ll break down your ideas into wireframes and user stories for your development team.

Sound like a good plan?

Great, let’s get started now.

Still in doubt? No problem. There’s a 100% money-back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied by the work I provide in the first month, I’ll provide a full refund.

Got questions? Send me an email.

 

 

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How to eliminate risk from your startup idea

Whether you are new to startups or a startup veteran, you will face the fear of building something that nobody cares about. Startup founders (myself included) build before validating ideas. This guide is not intended to replace the fantastic work of Steve Blank, Marty Cagan, or Eric Reiss. They have all spent many years doing research and failing to bring us these concepts. If you are a startup founder and haven’t read their books, you need to.

So you have an idea that you want to develop. You’re excited and you want to just start building. If you are anything like me, you love to get to the building. You want to get your hands dirty in Sketch, spin up your Heroku dynos, and in ten minutes you write your first line of code.

Slow down turbo.

too-fast

How do you know if your idea is worth building? How do you know if a market exists? You don’t need an MBA for this, I promise. Take a pause and follow these few steps to eliminate the risk from your idea.

  1. If you’re looking to raise VC to fund your startup, this process will show potential investors that you know what you’re talking about. VC pitches are full of market stats, industry trends, and sales pitches about the next great idea. Imagine if you showed up and pitched a VC saying.

    “I’m building [your idea], I have iterated the idea 10 times while talking with 10 target customers and all 15 customers are begging me to build this product. Oh, and here’s some market stats and trends.”

  2. If you are self-funding your startup, this process will help to eliminate the risk of wasting money.
  3. If your goal is residual personal income, this process will give you a jump start on finding your first customers.

The process for eliminating startup risk is a pretty simple concept. The hard part is suspending your biases listening.

Eliminating Risk

 

1. Identify the target customer.

You’ll need to take your idea and figure out who will use it. This isn’t just an exercise to write down a user persona. This is an exercise in understanding people.

Who, in your network, would you identify as the first customer of your product? Go talk to them.

Ask questions and listen. Try to understand them. Understand their daily work, their environment, and their life.

If it doesn’t come up in natural conversation, ask about the problem your idea is trying to solve. For example, if you are building the Uber for car washing you might ask questions like:

  • How often do you wash your car?
  • Do you use car washes?
  • What is the best car wash experience you’ve had?
  • Do you have a go-to car wash?

Listen to their answers. Suspend your own personal understanding of the problem. It is easy to hear what you want to hear to validate your own understanding. Listen with intention for things you don’t already know or haven’t thought of.

Do this same process 10 times with people in your network and you’ll form a strong understanding of your customer.

2. Iterate your idea.

Your original idea most likely was wrong, so you’ll want to iterate the idea. The key in this step is to iterate your idea, not the exact solution. You are trying to learn and craft your value proposition in this step.

From those 10 conversations you had with potential customers, you’ll likely have picked up on patterns. Adjust your idea to fit the new knowledge about your target customer.

Go back to those 10 people with an offering and see how they respond. Present them with a primary value proposition. For example…

“What if you had an app to order up a carwash while you work?”

Sit in the silence as you let them respond. You’ll be able to gauge their excitement by body language and initial response. You’re looking for enthusiasm and excitement. The best scenario is that you don’t get enthusiasm on the first attempt because this allows you to ask questions and refine the idea.

If you do this step well, you’ll end up with 10 potential customers that are ready and waiting for your product to come to life. In the most ideal scenario, these 10 customers will be your first evangelists to help you kickstart your marketing efforts.

3. Iterate your prototype.

Now that you’ve got an idea that’s worth solving, now you get to start building something. Eliminating risk is all about validating your assumptions as early as possible. You’ve eliminated the risk that customers don’t exist, you’ve eliminated the risk that customers don’t care, now we’ve got to eliminate the risk that the problem can’t be solved.

Start to build some prototypes of your idea. Start with rough sketches and outlines and talk to your customers. See if the concept makes sense.

Once you’ve got a concept that seems to work, start increasing the fidelity of your prototype. Start doing usability tests and make sure your solution meets the users’ expectations.


 

The Lean Startup Machine has created an awesome framework for this process. It’s called the Validation Board and it organizes your validation into steps and iterations.

If you do this 3 step process, you’ll cut as much risk as possible to ensure your startups success. If you take one thing away from this article, It’s that you need to talk to real customers early and often. So many startups fail because they assume that they are the experts.

Now go talk to some customers and iterate.

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The journey towards independence

Several months ago I wrote about breaking the fear cycle. Today I bring you the results of what’s possible when you break through the negative thought cycle of fear.

Let me be clear, I am not free of fear and doubt. I am trudging through the muddy waters with the best boots I own. I am beginning the journey towards independence.

For the last ten years I have built my career in technology through hard work and continual learning. I have always held the belief that success was the byproduct of kindness, constant learning, and most of all hard work. Measuring by the job requirements, I was not nearly qualified for any job that I have ever taken. I was, however, qualified in my capability and desire to learn.

Constant learning is the key to growth. Over the last thirty days, I challenged myself to learn some new skills by launching my own web-based product. Over my career as a product manager, I have launched many products and features. The process of delivering a product is not new to me.

The Personal Challenge

This is different. It’s my own product. I designed, developed, tested, and funded the entire thing. My goal was to design, build, and launch my product in less than 30 days and for less than $500 investment. This required me to learn skills far outside my current qualifications.

Why did I want to do this? To start my journey towards independence. When I started working in venture-backed startup world, I saw a huge opportunity to use technology to change the world while banking on major financial equity events. I saw a path where my entrepreneurial mind could be both analytical and creative.

What I have learned in my short-ish time in these startups is that all of these things are possible. One can, in fact, change the world through innovation while working towards a major windfall. What I didn’t anticipate was the fact that this is rare. Often the focus is less on changing the world and more on the major windfall.

The problem I have with this line of thinking is that both the opportunity for windfalls and the windfall itself are fleeting. I am more interested in providing a meaningful service to the world, being deeply engaged with my family, and making a significant impact in my local community.

Venture backed startups generally start out with a huge vision and idealism. Somewhere along the way that vision and idealism becomes confused by conversions rates, revenue, and strategy.

I am starting this journey to explore building a small business by solving problems with small sustainable products. A small business that eventually supports my family by providing solutions to every day problems.

Launching Libdox

Over the last 30 days, I have been building a brand new product called Libdox. Libdox is a personal document storage service. I want to liberate your documents from the filing cabinet.

I have never enjoyed keeping paper documents. It always feels inefficient to store a document in a filing cabinet where I most likely won’t be able to find it when I need it. Usually I just throw them away, but in some cases I stored copies in Dropbox or Google Drive. Even when I put them in Dropbox or Google Drive, I could never find them.

I built Libdox to solve this problem. An incredibly simple service to scan or take a picture of your important documents and directly upload them to be indexed and stored securely and permanently. There is no sharing, no public access, just a secure repository for tax receipts, warranties, pay stubs, and any other important document you need to keep.

For this, I’ll be charging $9/month and your first 15 days are free. [button href=”https://www.libdox.com/#trynow”]Try Libdox Now[/button]

Building Libdox

If you remember, my goal was to launch within 30 days and for less than $500. I’m happy to say that I launched the product with a few test users last week on day 27 of the project with a total investment of $419.

Along the way, I hired a developer to help me build parts of the application that I was unfamiliar with. This was my largest expense.

For those that are interested, Libdox is built using Ruby on Rails, deployed using Heroku, Amazon S3 for storage, and Stripe for payment processing.

Through the course of the project, I learned how to build a Ruby on Rails application from beginning to end. I started this journey by taking a course with One Month Rails.

I’ll continue to document this journey as I continue to improve, grow, and learn. For now, I’d love it if you gave Libdox a try!

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