JTBD: A Perfect Fit for Start-Ups
How can I determine product-market fit without a product on the market?
I don’t even have any customers yet — how can I conduct research?
These are common questions we get from entrepreneurs and founders. The truth is, JTBD is a perfect framework for start-ups to orient their efforts to.
Because JTBD separates solutions from the problems people are trying to solve, you can use the framework to understand market needs before you’ve even launched a product.
The trick is to first frame the target job you want to support, and then go investigate that. JTBD gives you a rigorous way to study the job and its various aspects — steps, outcomes, emotions, circumstances, and even aspirations — without having to have a product or customers.
From your research, you’ll then be able to complete just about any play in The JTBD Playbook. The best place to start is to create a job map.
A job map is very different from a customer journey map, which describes how people will become aware of your offering and why they decide to acquire. In contrast, a job map reflects how people accomplish their objectives independent of technology. Since the job to be done exists before your solution does, 99% of the time start-ups will be able to create a job map.
And that’s just a start. There are many other techniques you can use from JTBD to help understand your market before even having customers.
JTBD Recipe for Launching a New Offering
The aim of this recipe is to ensure product-market fit. JTBD helps focus your efforts on those aspects that result in the highest adoption. But by targeting a functional job first, and then layering in emotional and social factors, your chances of finding an ideal solution increase and you’ll waste less time testing inappropriate solutions.
A sequence of JTBD techniques for launching a new offering looks like this:
- Conduct jobs interviews. Even before you have a customer base, you can focus on getting feedback from job performers. Find people who get the main job done and engage them in interviews.
- Create a job map. Even without a product or service on the market, the job can be mapped. A completed map serves as a focal point for discussion to map your assumptions.
- Find underserved needs. Strive to locate the best opportunity from a customer perspective. To keep this activity light, follow Dan Olsen’s approach to finding underserved needs outlined in Chapter 4 and found in his book The Lean Product Playbook.
- Create a value proposition. Based on the job map and underserved needs, form a hypothesis value proposition to test and refine.
- Test assumptions. Conduct a design sprint or similar activity to form testable concepts and identify the riskiest assumptions. Then, devise experiments to test and validate your hypotheses.
From here, you should have significant insight to forge a clear path for moving forward. I recommend following Jeff Gothelf’s approach in Lean UX, which will guide you through cycles of building, measuring, and learning.