More and more young people want to delve into entrepreneurship. It may be a scary prospect as studies show 80% of startups fail to succeed within the first 18 months. So, what is the secret of companies like Apple, IBM, Starbucks, and Nike? These are all successful design thinking-driven businesses. What is design thinking?
Design thinking is an iterative, hands-on problem-solving approach. This approach prioritizes the target user’s desires for the product. It is extremely helpful in tackling problems that are ill-defined. There is no shortage of literature about the steps and applications of design thinking on the internet. Design thinking may seem technical and un-user friendly to inexperienced young entrepreneurs. So, this article will break down design thinking for startups into simpler terms. Then, tell you how to apply it with attributes, to your startup with simplicity and ease.
Empathize & be human
The cardinal rule and the first stage of the design thinking method is to empathize. This problem-solving method gives precedence to the problems users encounter. This is as opposed to what the designer thinks is wrong. When defining your problems, define them in a way that prioritizes human-centredness. First, put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Then, try to think the way they will when identifying problems and solutions.
Instead of specifying, DIVERGE
Most problem solvers tell you to specify your problem. But, design thinking tells you otherwise. When defining a problem and generating ideas, diverge. Don’t constrain or limit yourself. Design thinking is essentially about finding the problem worth solving. Identify as many problems to consider for improving your product. Then, choose the right problem to solve, that prioritizes your client’s needs. Often times it may not be the biggest problem identified. Next, move onto ideating. Come up with as many solutions to the chosen problem. Again, diverge when generating ideas. Consider all options and think out of the box. Sometimes the least probable idea may come to be the solution to your problem.
Successful entrepreneurs always give new startups one piece of advice. It’s to never stop working on redesigning your business. The world of business is one that is constantly evolving and growing. Never become complacent. Hence why it’s so important to always update your business to match the times. This keeps it dated and avoids your product becoming obsolete in the marketplace. Always strive for innovation & efficiency for your business. This combination gives any business the greatest advantage in competition.
Be open to accepting failure
In any business, there are risks. But, never be afraid to experiment. Trying something new is part and parcel of the innovation process anyways. Failure is not a bad thing. You’ll identify what is wrong with your product and learn what not to do the next time you test it. You also receive feedback. This is important in repeating the prototyping and testing stage. Keep testing your product in various ways to rule out various flaws. Better to “fail fast, fail cheap” before your product is even on the market. Otherwise, you would suffer greater losses. Also, make decisions to alter your product early on.
Constantly create (self-imposed) deadlines for yourself
It is great practice to create self-imposed deadlines for yourself to fulfill. Clearly define your goals and aims. For example, once you’ve formulated a product, identified a problem and ideated a solution, make a goal to create a working prototype within two weeks. Then, within another week, finish testing your product and collect feedback. When you set proper deadlines, you’re more likely to take action. This way you also ensure your plans stay on track. Self-imposed deadlines create a sense of self-urgency to complete tasks and meet goals. This is important to focus, concentrate on and economize for your product.
Do your due research
Research and extensive reading are integral for any young entrepreneur. It equips you with the basics and knowledge you need to expand your creative thought process. You’ll be able to adapt yourself to think from different perspectives. Different perspective thinking is very important for business owners. It is helpful to use to think in the many ways their customers probably would. This thinking also allows you to analyze your problems from multiple points of view. Or, integrate different perspectives into your business by forming a multidisciplinary team. Studies show multidisciplinary teams always outperform homogenous teams. This is because they have the helpful ability to think with different perspectives.
Do not give up! Iterate, iterate, iterate
Understand that risk of failure is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. Do not let this discourage you in your strive for success. Good things always take time. Don’t be afraid to take your product through many iterations and cycles. Whilst it may seem like an arduous process, the payoff will eventually be worth it. Being thorough in product design ensures a better end product. Use your iterations as crucial feedback and learning loops. Continue your iteration process between the problem and solution. Always create new ideas based off of your old ones. These ideas usually end up being more successful.
Don’t be so rigid. Understand that design is a dynamic process and can’t condense into a step by step process. The design thinking process isn’t linear. So, feel free to run all stages concurrently or jump between stages until you think you’ve succeeded. Also, be comfortable with ambiguity. Design thinking was initially made only for addressing wicked or ill-defined problems. These problems are those that are tricky and do not clear underlying problems. Hopefully, this breakdown was helpful to any young entrepreneur. You should now know what design thinking attributes to use as a young entrepreneur. So, best of luck towards success in any business.
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