Perhaps the 5 most dangerous words one can ask in the early stages of Business Development are “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”
Wouldn’t it be cool if we integrated our waffle toppings recommendation engine into Google Maps, so you could always find the nearest bottle of maple syrup?
All too frequently we see the results of partnerships (or attempts at forging partnerships) that are borne from this seemingly innocent question: they fail. No product or partnership can last (if it gets off the ground at all) for long without a well-defined source of value for your customers, your partners, and your own company. Pursuing on an opportunity whose value is rooted only in the sexiness of the idea is a recipe for wasted time that no startup can afford.
The dangers of Wouldn’t It Be Cool If-style thinking are so prevalent in the world of Product Development that those repeated failures to launch nurtured the growth of the Lean Startup movement. Validating a hypothesis around whether or not a customer will find any value in your product, and iterating until you find the right product-market fit, is an approach that should extend well beyond the product development stage.
Before forging a path towards any partnership, there are more important questions to ask than “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” What you should be asking of yourself, your customers, and your partners, is: why is this cool, what about this is valuable, and who will care?
Knowing that every deal you do creates long-term value for your customers, your partners, and your own organization? That’s cool.