Taking a new product to market, whether it’s the sole product of a start-up, or it’s a new product or offshoot from an established business, is a fascinating area, and one which I’ve been involved in and advised on for a while.

There are typically three phases that a company goes through in its go-to-market journey towards a repeatable, scalable business: problem-solution fit; product-market fit; scale. All of them are customer-verifiable.

1) Problem-solution fit

In this phases of the new product go-to-market journey, you have a solution that a customer acknowledges – by parting with money – solves a problem for them. Hardly rocket science. It might just be one customer, and that one customer might be helping finance your development of a product that you hope you can sell to others. The trade-off is between customising the solution to the customer’s requirements and developing a solution that will still do the job for your target segment.

2) Product-market fit

In this phase, you have developed and sold your product to the point where there is a fit between your product and the market. Again, we’re not splitting the atom here. Your customers acknowledge that they need your product and they would be in trouble if for some reason your product was unavailable to them.No-one buys a nice to have, they buy what they must have, and you’ve demonstrated that a good number of customers need what you have.

3) Scale

The third phase of new product go-to-market is when you’re adding sales at an acceptable rate and at an acceptable cost of acquisition. There are various different ways of doing this, such as using channel partners, optimising internal resources, getting better at implementing and servicing the business, and so on. As the business is growing it is achieving greater economies of scale. It is multiplying revenues at a progressively smaller incremental cost. It is scaling the business.

Plenty of companies are perfectly happy providing solutions to problems for a very small number of customers, perhaps for ever. A smaller number graduates to a product which has product-market fit. A smaller number still manages to genuinely scale the business.