New and Different

When you're creating a product or service that is not only new, but different from the norm, you'll find yourself bouncing back and forth between a variety of cascading design tradeoffs.

On the one hand, you need to be careful about letting your practical sense regarding what is viable today seep into the design process of what you're making.  Adhering to that sense of practicality can often be like an anvil that prevents you from fully embracing the innovative approach that will allow you to create something that is both compelling and enduring.  And especially if you're attempting to "skate where puck is going", you can't be so tethered to the present.

Of course, this requires a balanced approach.  If what you produce is so dramatically different from the norm or too ahead of its time, you risk confusing the market altogether and it'll be hard to get off the ground.  You'll have what looks like either a user acquisition or engagement problem.

This is particularly problematic if your strategy relies on monetizing in the near term vs. say, a longer-term strategy that focuses on the scale component of your business model before you turn on monetization.

In the case of the former, people need to know what it is they're getting in exchange for their money and it needs to be understandable, if not familiar.  This is where it's worth adhering to practicality: simpler, commonly accepted models for how you charge people and/or bundle products and services.  Even if your thing is new and different, how can you make it feel like it's a familiar type of purchase?

In the case of the latter, this is well and good if you can raise the capital, but now you have another tradeoff to consider, which is how you grow what you have into a business that will generate a sufficient return multiple for your investors.  But therein lies another pitfall.  Often, people mistake confidence in a general trend (like podcasting) with an assumption that they will be well-positioned to capture most if not all of the value that is created once that vision becomes reality.  (This is similar to the "Company X just launched something I invented 10 years ago" fallacy that you see on Twitter.)

Having a hypothesis for what type of business you will need to build in your future end state is a worthy intellectual exercise not because you want to then go and build that vision.  But so you can start to ask how you might get to that point and thusly where you should start.

The answers—or guesses—to these questions are the inputs that you'll need for the present day challenge of whether to present your product or service as something radically different from the norm, or whether to adhere (for now) to simpler more practical primitives and models.