What, When, Where, With Whom and How ?
Now that you know what a start-up is (Read the article here if you missed it), it is the time to sit down and get to the business.
Start-ups are about 3 things.
- A Unique Idea
- An Awesome Team
- A Spectacular Growth Strategy
All these three things are equally important, and the failure to reach perfection in one thing can negatively affect the rest, resulting in a negative outcome altogether. Nonetheless, if you manage to get all of these things together and keep striving for perfection, then the chances are that you will reach success in any field that you are involved in. Let us take you through each of these major factors briefly.
1) A Unique Idea
Here is the thing, my friend! Despite what you may initially think, the idea for a start-up does not always have to be brilliant. What you need to do is offer something better to the people than what they have right now. This could be something entirely new, or it could be an enhanced or a better version of something that already exists. What is available for people in the tech industry right now are not entirely great all the time, and therefore, it does not always take super brilliance to come up with an idea that gets things done.
Take Google for an example, their plan initially was simply to create a search engine – pardon my French – that did not suck. They came up with a clean and simple solution that actually did what it was meant to do, and look where they are now! To put it in a simpler way, find a problem that needs to be solved, and figure out how to do in a way that is simple and effective.
2) An Awesome Team
The life and the soul of a start-up lie on its people. From the techies, financiers, marketers, designers to every single one who joins you from the first stages to the end when you hit success, they all are a part of everything that your company achieves or fails to achieve. The success of your start-up literally depends on who you work with.
It is about good people and even better professionals. It is about having developers who will work late into the night to complete that one project, about designers who keeps redoing their designs until they feel they have done their best, sales people who take no for an answer, growth hackers who dive, dig and carve out new methods on getting your brand and the name out there and finally founders who are smart in making the right decisions.
Like most start-ups, your company can start with a group of like-minded friends. We will speak about the Foundering members in particular later in this essay. In the early stages, you will likely be hiring people over personal recommendations rather than going for a massive talent hunt. That is okay. Since the more they feel personal about the company, the more they will go that extra mile in what they involve in.
If you are a tech startup another great way to find an awesome team would be to partner up with a development firm, which offers tech solutions specifically catered for start-ups. They have walked the path with number of other startups and know how to help you be successful. Joining with an experienced company will allow you to be exposed to industry related networks and mentors as well.
3) A Spectacular Growth Strategy
What you have to understand is that being newly founded does not make a company, a startup. You need to have a strategic plan to grow fast in order to call yourself that special term! A startup stems from growth, and everything else that you do and associate with your company follows the main and central growth strategy. If you make sure that you have a good growth plan, then everything else will automatically fall into place.
Road Map to Starting a Startup
– Think Ahead
Most of the people today live in either past or the present. Being in denial of the future and indulging ourselves in the present is easy. However, if you are planning to go into the startup world, then you have to be a step ahead from the rest of the crowd. Think as if you are living in the future, and the things other people will think to be impossible will feel obvious to you. Every startup which went big during the last decade achieved their success by thinking ahead from the era they belonged to.
– Gather your ideas
Come up as much as ideas you can, and always write them down so you do not forget. Sometimes the most brilliant ideas you get will hit your mind in the most unexpected moments. Note all the potential startup ideas you get over a period of time. Note down the random observations you find interesting and gather up all these until you find an idea with the most potential to hit success.
– Create a prototype
Despite how brilliant your ideas are, they will stay only as a scribble on a paper unless you do what is possible to present it in a physical form in some way. Write the initial codes, program them, make the designs and do whatever possible to make them solid and closer to reality than a mere thought.
– Get Feedback
Oftentimes what might feel brilliant in your own mind may not seem practical or useful for the majority of people – sad, I know!
This is why you need to get at least 100 people to give you a proper feedback on your prototype. You need different perspectives and ideas in order to make a product which suits the best of your market.
– Work, Work and Re Work
After getting feedback to your prototype, you need to work and rework on the idea until it makes sense – and until it make sense to the majority of your audience. There is no fixed timeline to tell how long you should stay in this step. Perseverance, however, is the key! You need to work until you make it and there is no other option.
– Co-Founder Search
This is one of the most important steps in your journey. Once you feel that your prototypes are making sense, you need to find one or few people who will be willing to put their life and soul to your idea in the same way that you do. They need to have the same passion toward the idea, and ideally have solid perspective on their own on how to approach the development of that idea.
– Business Registration
Now it is the time to put it down on paper and make it official. Register your business and have a clear agreement on how splitting of equity is done among the co-founders.
Aha! Well now that you have the people and a solid version of the idea, it is time to get funding to make it really work. You need to work on building a proper version of your product as you look for funding. If you have enough savings and the confidence to use, then you can go for the launch by investing your own money on the product as well.
– THE BIG LAUNCH!
When you get to this step you have enough funding and a clearly presentable version of your product. Try to make it as perfect as possible with regard to user experience and other optimizations, but at the same time be aware that it is impossible to have a perfect product at the first time.
– Follow Up
You need to have a close follow up process with the first users of your product. If they are not coming back or are not satisfied then find out why and work on them. A start-up goes through a constant growth process in this stage. You might even have to change the core feature and add new suggestions your customers are asking from you. If you come to a point that your newest update shows major deviations and differences from the original product, you can do a re-launch to get the new features to your potential new customers.
Sometimes things do not work out! Despite of how much effort you might put into your product, you just might end up getting a very lukewarm reception by your audience that does not seem to change despite how many changes you do to the product. This is when you need to bounce back with a “Plan B” – a changed or completely different idea of a product, and keep on going.
Pivoting, or re-imaging the use of the talent and assets you have and coming up with a different and better model is a very common occurrence in the startup world. Instagram – which is a Billion dollar company now started like a simple check-in app which did not get a much of an enthusiastic reaction. They pivoted through many ideas until they came up with a simple photo sharing app which became a massive success. Therefore, if at first you don’t succeed, then go for a Plan B, or C – alphabet has 26 letters after all!
Once you pass the first 1000 users, then the chances are that your product will do marketing on its own. Use the marketing channels wisely when you reach out to your customers. Strategize your finances and keep doing what works.