The Flight Simulator

Posted 21 June By Hanju LeeEntrepreneurshipNo Comments

The Flight Simulator

In my past life, I was a design engineer. I designed products on a sophisticated 3D modeling software and put it through another program that flattens the design with all the sheet metal bend lines calculated (the metal stretches when you bend it, so you have to factor that in). When that’s complete, we put it through a CNC machine where it cuts, punches and embosses. When that’s done, it goes through a series of processes (deburring, bending, welding, etc) until it becomes a part.

Most products we designed had 10-30 parts, not including all the other components that make it work. And, for each production run, we made 100-5000 parts at a time. So, now imagine if one of the parts that was designed had a calculation error and during the final assembly, it doesn’t fit in place. OMG!! Trust me, I’d be the first one to get notified, and when I run out there to verify whose fault it was, everyone is on edge. If the parts are faulty, it has to be scrapped and the labor hours and material cost that was lost gets charged to the department that messed up. Talk about stress.

But us smarty-pants in the engineering department came up with an idea to reduce scrap cost being charged to our department. We built a model shop next to our office and had two incredibly talented builders that simulated everything that would happen in the production. They built every part that we designed one by one and assembled it at the end to ensure everything would fit and function. Brilliant? Yes! Stressful? Not any more.

For our finale of “Will It Fly” (a series dedicated to helping you to test the viability of any business ideas you might have), let’s quickly go over what it means to create a simulator for our business so that we can avoid unnecessary mistakes and costs and help you validate the idea on a small scale so that you can make sure it will work.

Ready? Here we go.

First, let’s be perfectly clear, validation is not someone telling you they would buy, like, read, consume, watch or listen to something you create. Validation is based on certain actions they take. Follow this formula for validation.

Step 1: Get in front of an audience

You have to have access to an audience of people in your market. If you already have it, great! If not, you have to build it yourself. There are many ways to do this. For instance, you can do targeted advertising through Google ads and social media marketing. You can guest post, hang out in forums offering answers, create engagement on groups, crowdfunding platforms…all these examples are listed in the book Will it Fly by Pat Flynn and also in the free companion course.

Step 2: Interact and share your solution

After you’ve discovered who your prospects are, it’s time to interact with those people directly. You’re not quite presenting your solution yet, but you’re really close. The idea here is to start to engage with the people who have signaled interest. All selling starts with the relationship, which means that you have to make sure that you begin by getting the person on the other end to know, like, and trust you. Qualify yourself, be honest about what you’re up to, offer the pitch…don’t ask for payment, just sell the idea for now.

Step 3: Ask for the transaction

Asking for a payment before you build your product might feel weird, but again, if you are honest about this with your prospect, it won’t be an issue. In fact, it’s pretty common to do this…just look at the Kickstarter platform – it gets funded first before it gets built. It’s a common practice. This might be the hardest step in your simulation process, but it’s well worth it. Will people that you engage with that believe in your idea put their wallet where their mouth is? This will be a sure sign that they not only believe it, they are willing to bet on it.

I love how the image above gives you a pilot’s point of view. If you’ve reached this point, “Will it Fly?” is no longer a theoretical question – it’s an opportunity to see your business defy gravity and take off! In the words of the poem High Flight, you’re ready to “slip the surly bonds of Earth and dance the skies.”

I’m so happy to have been your wingman in this process! Here’s a little music to inspire you as you go.

See you around the wild blue yonder!

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