November 29, 2012

Peace of Mind is your Startup’s Currency

It is extremely difficult and very competitive to win consumer mindshare. There are great products and services that are not being used because they have failed to prove they’re 10x better than the existing alternative. Yes.  TEN TIMES.  That’s the threshold of incremental improvement a new product must provide to overcome the switching cost a consumer evaluates to leave the incumbant.

If you’re creating a SaaS product and want it to be ten times better, make sure you’re delivering peace of mind.

What we really want as consumers is peace of mind.  It’s not about offering a decision to a customer, it’s about making the decision for them without them thinking.

You must get your customers to see the tradeoff between not just adding time back to their day but being able to utilize that time without reservation.  Every SaaS product claims to save time.  Not every SaaS product allows you to enjoy the time savings with confidence that nothing’s falling through the cracks and that software is actually working for you.

To be able to execute on product that delivers Peace of Mind,  the idea of peace of mind should permeate throughout your culture.

  1. Give your customer peace of mind.
  2. Give your team peace of mind.
  3. Give yourself peace of mind.

Peace of Mind for Customers

I’ll use a specific example with our company as to why we saw significantly higher conversions to paid customers.  The credit goes to Tal Raviv and why we have this revenue. Tal built a feature that has been fundamental in creating that peace of mind experience with our product. It’s called “Autosubmit”.

Sounds sexy right? It is.

Autosubmit happens when you’re interacting with a prospect in Gmail, Facebook or LinkedIn that has previously already been in one or more of your cloud services.  If this person already has a profile within any of these services, Autosubmit will detect that and then automatically update any new contact information as well as the new conversation automatically.  You don’t have to do anything.  The cloud services get updated automatically.  But as cool as that sounds, it’s not peace of mind.  It’s still just a feature.

Peace of mind happens only when the data goes perfectly to each record and each field 100% of the time so you can depend on it and not have to double check it each time.  When a customer experiences this, they convert to paid at a significant rate.

When thinking about creating products for consumers and enterprises, aim to eliminate steps out of their workflow that they hate. Don’t ignore what they’re doing already.  Pay attention to the steps they’re taking to get to their solution.  Observe where there are inefficiencies and create a solution that eliminates those inefficiencies while delivering on solving the pain point as early and as often as possible.  Then look for opportunities or patterns where you can automate anything.  If you can do that credibly and accurately, you’re on the path for a 10x improvement.  It’s not easy but it’s easier than finding distribution for a product that’s not 10x better than what’s already out there.

Peace of Mind for Employees

Creative solutions are conjured when you have peace of mind.  The best ideas come when you are in an environment when you can think without reservation or repercussions.  Try to re-create the peace of mind for your team so that they can always be thinking that creatively and acting on the abilities you recruited them for.

I value the work that every person on the team does at $120/hour. If they’re bogged down in work that is something anyone else could do for $10/hour, then we’re losing $110/hour.

In any given day, there is a finite amount of time that you are capable of creative energy.  Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, is a notoriously meticulous person with his schedule.  His closest colleagues attribute some of his success to being excellent at saying “No”.  On the whiteboard in the conference room of his Boulder, Colorado office he has the following schedule written as a reminder to himself:

Creative 53%
Teaching 28%
Other 19%

His creative slot each day involves research, writing and thinking creatively.  In an 8 hour day, his creative allotment is roughly four hours.  The significance of this reference is the balance of the schedule and Collins’ need to remind himself that thinking creatively for more than half of his day in order to create something that is not just quality, but 10x better than what most other authors could create.

If you have talented and intelligent team members like I’m fortunate enough to have, create environments where they have the peace of mind to think of creative solutions and act on them immediately.

Because I’m not as talented as Jim Collins, I’m just gonna call this 4 hour allotment, “The Universe of Awesomeness”.   This is a very creative and productive time where your sole focus is on items that have the biggest impact and require a creative way to solve them.  Due to natural distractions and obstacles, only a fraction this 4 hours is spent in the “Universe of Awesomeness”. I’ve scientifically and empirically graphed this theory.

There is a productivity multiplier and momentum factor when you have an extended period of time to focus on only one critical item, big problems or figuring out how to get the biggest spike in incremental revenue. Removing obstacles that will give 4 straight hours of uninterrupted concentration for your team is when the returns for this strategy really present themselves. That’s was when Tal came up with Autosubmit for us.

Peace of mind For yourself:

You’re not getting paid to worry and if you show up and just react each day you’ll get lapped by a competitor.  It’s difficult however and sometimes feels impossible to get peace of mind trying to run a startup.  If you can create peace of mind for your customers and your team, you’ll find there’s less to worry about and your focus will shift to fun and creative ways to get more customers and different ways to give them more peace of mind.


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