If you are just starting or planning to start your first startup you may be wondering what a startup founder should do to build a great pruduct, get the first customer onboard and then how to scale the business. I have been reading great posts by great people and a few books on startups and take some notes in my notebook.
You may disagree with some of these and agree with some. Please let me know about your thoughts. If you are knowledgeable in this field please leave feedback so I can make this note better over time.
Your startup idea
You do not need to spend a lot of time to get a world changing idea. Just pick a problem you believe worth solving and then you get a great idea to start with. You will be adjusting your idea while executing it. Just consider a few points to make sure you are doing right thing:
Do you believe in your idea
Talk about your startup ideas
Name your product and buy the domain mane
Release early for validation
Try until you find your niche
Make a plan
You shoudl have a plan to operate your business. It does not need to be 137 pages long unless you plan for VC funding. Create a simple business model - should not be longer than 2/3 pages. Your plan does not need to be perfect. You should be flexible to change your plan as necessary. It is OK to change your plan as long as you get closer to your final goal. If you find customers are not taking the product as you expected make adjustment based on that feedback. Do not stress on the format much. Plain text, powerpoint slides, word table anything you like will be fine. Just keep it shortest possible. Here are some items to include in your business plan:
Describe the problem
Define the solution
Describe unique value proposition
You need a clear unique value proposition. It needs to be more beneficial in some way than existing alternates. What are the alternatives customers already have and why will they choose yours. Here are a few you shoudl include in your plan sheet:
Be usefully different
Finished story benefit
Study other companies unique value proposition to get better idea. Until you are solid about your value proposition, chances are you do not understand your products value yourself (at least not clear about it) and spending time/ resources on building or worse marketing will be a waste. You may be building a wrong product targeting totally wrong audience.
Describe any unfair advantage you may have
What is your customer segments and who are early adopters
Identify your early adopters so you can validate your idea early by reaching them.
What are your marketing channels
What are your costs
You need money to build your product. You may need to buy things like servers or ion exchange plant to produce dilithium crystals. There possibly will be maintenance and continuous development cost. You should consider those and include in your plan.
Have a pricing/ revenue strategy
Describe key metrics
What is your expected revenue
Do not create a long projection plan with charts. A few sentences will do it .
Plan your feedback loop
You should plan a feedback loop that will give you idea if you are on track. You create this so that you can adjust your plan and be able to reach your final goal.
Plan for actionable metrics
Plan to collect actionable metrics (do not collect any data that you do not have plan to use).
How many visitors came ? from what channel? How many subscribed? How many bought? Add any other key metrics you are interested in here.
Validate business model
- Customer pain level: this should tell you if it worth solving
- Ease of reaching customer (channel)
- Price and gross margin
- Market size (is it big enough to have a viable business?)
- Technical feasibility (can you create the vaccine with the resources you have?)
- Legal isssues
Identify the risks in your plan
You should identify the risks for your startup and be prepared for those risks. Every venture has some risks associated with it. You should be aware of those and have a mitigation plan.
Keep your runway long
Build a great product
Plan for "less but useful" features and make them rock solid
Market research: Is the problem worth solving
Will they pay for it?
Will enough people pay enough money for the business to be a viable one?
Build the product and test if the right product was built
Scale to millions
Software project management
You should use the language that helps build your product faster and easily. People don't care about underlying technology. It is just a tool. Use something you know well and fit for your project.
Before you start make sure your product is ready. Untill your product is ready spending on marketing could be a waste or it may even do harm to your brand. You can start blogging any time and it is better to start as soon as you decide your field.
Understand your market
You should research market as your fast task (after starting your blog) of marketing. Look for possible customer, research your competators and do whatever you can to gather as much data you can. later you can use the data and take decision about other things.
Find your competitors
You should actually find them all and start monitoring their activity. Watch for who buy from them. What are they offering.
Make a list of increasing goals
Treat your customers well
Recursive Marketing aka SEO
I do not think I need to remind you that organic traffic is most important for your startup. You can spend small and get great benefit. Have a SEO strategy in your core marketing plan. Learn about it as much possible and implement those you learn. Here are a few things to consider:
Its all about content
Create a good landing page
Create a robots.txt file
Create great page titles and description
Create an elevator pitch
- Name of your product
- Problem you are solving
- Your solution
- Key benefit of your solution - how are you usefully different than others
Create a high level concept pitch
Here are a few example of high level concept pitch
- Youtube: "flickr for video"
- Dogster: "Friendster for dogs"
- Auth2: "Makes your web site safer than your bankers web site"
Other things you should do for your web site
- Have an email subscribtion form
- Have your site link in all your online profile and as your email signature
- Tell people to have link on their sites
- Subscribe to web search engines and use web admin tools
Select relevant keywords and build your site around them
Invest in design
Brand your product
Be mobile friendly
Mobile traffic is increasing. Browse your site to see how it works on popular mobile platforms. Add Apple icons, have meta viewport tags on your pages (search for them if you do not know what they are).