A blog is a great way to open up the dialogue between your startup and the online community. It is something we (Cahoots) have been doing for a few months now while we refine our concept and product. Our blog has been a fantastic tool, asset, and outlet for us. We are attracting a growing audience to engage with on a regular basis.
I've seen one or two deals that offer systems to get rich quick. Too many of these are on the web. It sounds enticing. Work two hours a week from home, and soon you'll earn a few thousand dollars a month until you can quit your day job.
I'm all for getting rich quick. I'm also all for getting rich slowly.
In our research, we sometimes come across articles that are incredibly useful while simply stated. This one – written by David Ronick- is exactly what a want-to-be entrepreneur needs. A simple step-by-step plan to take a business from an idea to a working operation.
Even successful startups would find Ronick’s information helpful and valuable. Were any key steps missed that might cause problems later? What lessons would I pass along to others interested in similar activities? Which of the steps went well and what needs additional focus for the next phase? Excellent advice and lessons from one who has been there and done it very successfully.
10 Steps From Idea To Business
By David Ronick
Some of the most important things in life don’t come with instruction manuals: homes, spouses, kids and startups are a few. That’s why I created this startup road map. Inspired by the lean approach often favored by today’s tech entrepreneurs, the principles apply to any industry.
1. Come up with an idea
Pick an idea that fits your passions, goals, strengths, resources and tolerance for risk. But keep in mind that your initial idea is just a hypothesis. Don’t fall in love with it just yet.
2. Think through all angles
Evaluate the opportunity like an investor would—in an objective, thorough, analytical way. Who are the customers and what do they need? How big is the opportunity? Is the timing right? What will it take to execute? Is the payoff worth the risk? What’s the business model? A rough business plan is a great way to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Here’s a free tool you can use to make sure yours is comprehensive.
3. Get feedback
Find people who know the market, the business model, the competitors and predecessors—people who have been there, done that, and can help you understand what works and what doesn’t in the real world. Also, talk to customers—people in your core target market—and find out what they think about your hypothesis. You’ll learn lots more once you get a product to market, but this initial research will increase your chances of starting out on the right path.
4. Respond to feedback
Make any necessary changes to your business plan, product, and go-to-market strategy. Run some numbers to get a sense of how much capital you’ll need to reach key milestones. Develop an implementation plan with your most important goals over the next few months, and determine whom you need on your team to execute that plan.
5. Build a basic product
When you envision the product or service you ultimately want to offer, it probably has a slick design and a full set of features. Keep that ultimate vision on the back-burner for now. Instead, strip the concept down to the bare minimum offering to address the needs of your core customers. Build that basic product as quickly and inexpensively as you can.
6. Open shop
It’s tempting to wait until your product is “perfect” to start selling it. Instead, realize “perfect is the enemy of good enough.” Until your product is out in the market, you’re flying blind, spending time and money with a limited ability to learn how customers react. Make a core product and get it to market quickly.
7. Test what you’ve created
With products in market, you can figure out how to match your offerings with customer needs. To do that, test elements like pricing, branding, features and customer experiences. Next, find a cost-effective, repeatable way to attract customers by experimenting with marketing messages, promotions, sales pitches and distribution channels. Measure the results and draw conclusions.
8. Make adjustments
Once you learn which aspects of your product and marketing you got wrong, you’ll want to fix them, of course. But hopefully you will have gotten some things right, too, and you’ll want to leave those intact. To do both simultaneously, you’ll tweak or “pivot” your approach.
9. Get ready to grow
Revisit your business plan, and update your product, team, marketing, implementation and finance strategies. Gather resources you’ll need to expand. If you intend to raise capital, this is a good time. Your pitch to investors now sounds something like, “We figured out how to get new customers for $x, and make 3$x from each one. With such and such amount of money, we can grow this big, this fast.” That’s a winning pitch.
10. Stomp on the startup accelerator
With a market-tested plan and resources in place, it’s time to expand. Make sure your team knows and believes in where you’re heading. Check that everyone understands what’s expected and that they have what they need to get it done.
David Ronick is a co-founder of UpStart Bootcamp, which aims to help founders start up smarter.
Read this article at: Inc.com.
Yin and Yang. Sunny and stormy. Happy and sad. Success and failure. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Business is no different: It is subject to these same principles.
Many articles and posts on this blog focus on the positive aspects of launching a business, offering tips, expert advice, and opportunities. Today’s opinion, by Susan Payton, offers potential drawbacks to consider before launching a startup. This article is not to dissuade anyone from creating a business success story; I simply wanted to offer an intelligent view of potential pitfalls. I strongly believe the correct combination of creative ideas, research, planning, and hard work ultimately yields success in many startup attempts.
4 Reasons Not to Launch a Startup
By Susan Payton
Startups are the new shiny toy these days. Groupon and Mint are among the constantly quoted examples of what can go right with a business startup, but what percentage of startups actually enjoy that kind of phenomenal success?
Before you jump right into a startup, consider these four reasons it might be worth thinking through.
1. Money Burns Like Kindling
Whether you’re bootstrapping your startup or actually get seed money or VC capital, I guarantee the money will disappear quicker than you planned. A VC in Silicon Valley wants you to meet in his office…tomorrow. Bam: $2,000 for travel expenses. Another mobile carrier said they’d consider hosting your app, if you make 20 hours’ worth of programming changes. Bam. Another $1,000 gone, with no guarantee of revenue as a result. Things break. Conferences come up. Money dwindles.
Even getting money can be problematic. VCs are the equivalent of journalists: they’re getting pitched from every angle, and being heard above the din isn’t always easy.
How to Circumvent the Money Drain: Having money, period, for your startup already puts you ahead of the crowd. Make a budget upfront and build in as many surprises as you can. Pad the budget for travel and discretionary funds, and make sure you always have enough to pay your staff.
2. The Learning Curve Is Tough
Unless you’ve done this before, I’m guessing you’re winging the whole startup thing as you go. Reading Hacker News and OnStartups; attending industry conferences; finding other startups in your area (or maybe you’re not doing these things?). There’s only so much you can glean about crafting a startup pitch to VCs from blog posts. You need inside advice, and what you lack may show when you’re pitching investors.
How to Get Your Startup Degree: Self-teaching and sticking with it is what helps the big startups get acquired or funded. Don’t give up. Find a local mentor or startup organization that will rally around you and give you inside tips on what investors (even specific firms) are looking for. Ask for advice in putting together your deck and business plan. You are not operating in a bubble; ask for help. Repay it on the other side.
3. You May Kill Your Co-Founder
You and your best bud came up with a fantastic idea for a startup…only now he’s dragging his feet at getting coding done, or disagrees with you on every point. How are you supposed to grow a business if you can’t even agree on a logo? Starting a business with a friend can be stressful and put a strain on a relationship. Do you have to choose between getting rich or having a friend?
How to Keep Your Friend and Make Money: At the outset of your startup, determine what each of you will do. What are each of your strengths? What will you each be responsible for? It’s a good idea if one of you takes the CEO role and can make executive business decisions. Make it clear who has what authority. Stay in constant contact, and don’t let aggression build up. Go out for beers together every once in a while.
4. The Competition Beats You to It
After months of development, you’re ready to release your app or service. The day before launch, you find out a formidable competitor has just launched the exact same product. Do you throw all your work down the toilet?
How to Keep on Truckin’: The thing about startups, especially tech ones, is that you can’t focus on a single product or solution. You have to be multifunctional and find different ways to reach your audience. If this was your only product, you must decide whether to go up against a competitor with deeper pockets. The smart thing to do is to start out working on multiple projects so you can shift your focus if need be.
If you’re still reading, congrats. If these reasons didn’t scare you away from creating a startup, I wish you the best. Ben Yoskovitz talks about why you should begin a startup. You’re passionate. You want to change the world. You’re a control freak. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
Startups are like babies. They require a lot of care, and many people start them on a whim. But they need constant nurturing or they’ll die (taking your $100,000 second mortgage with them). Be fully prepared for the responsibility a startup entails, and you’ll be fine. You can thank me after you’ve sold to Google.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, an Internet marketing firm specializing in blogger outreach, social media, and PR. She is also the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert Blog.