So you’ve got a startup idea. Now what?

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I come across a number of people who have an idea and want to be entrepreneurs, but have no idea where to start. And most ideas remain just that, ideas. Knowing how to get to where you want to go is the part where the most ideas fall flat. Thats what this post is about: the steps you need to follow in turning your idea into a business. It’s not rocket science, but there is also no silver bullet. The steps below are just a guide where the details will depend on your idea, market and a whole bunch of other factors. This is just a place to start. 

Step 1: Put together a rough business plan
It should be something short and very high level and no more than 1 page. I prefer the What, Who, Why, Money, Competitors, Problems model. But there are plenty of other methods such as the Lean Canvas. Just get it out of your head, get the idea down on paper and identify the problem you’re trying to solve.

Step 2: Go talk to people I cannot stress how important it is to go and talk to potential users, get feedback and run surveys as early as possible. At this stage you’re wanting to test the fundamentals: Do people really have the problem that you’re trying to solve? How are they currently solving it? (if its worth solving they’re likely already doing it somehow) And finally how are you better than other solutions. put together a quick survey and get 100 responses. Go talk to people. Get feedback. Do this before you start building anything.

Step 3: Do a competitor matrix
Now that you’ve done some research, you should have an idea of how people are currently solving their problem. Next is to create a list of all the features and functionality that your competitors have and how they’re solving the problem. Work out who does what and how you can differentiate yourself. What things will make you better?

Step 4: Create a rough functional spec
By now you should have a pretty good idea on what you need to build. Put these ideas together and make a couple of mockups. Write out your customer flows and user journeys. What would users see, click on or need at each step?

Step 5: Build an MVP
Building a Minimal Viable Product is all about minimalism. Take away all of the features except the core value that you add to customers. Remove all the fluff and nice to haves so that you can really find out if people will want your core focus.

Step 6: Get users and Customers asap
No excuses here. Make lists of customer segments (who are they, where will you find them) and pick up the phone or blast out those emails. There are 2 steps to getting customers onboard. Prove that they want you, then prove that they’ll pay you.

Step 7: Iterate and refine
Now that you’ve got a lot more focus and you’re chatting to customers you’re getting loads more feedback and data. Go back to step one and run through the process again, refining each step and improving and focussing on what you have. Rinse. Repeat.

Obviously this is a very high level guide and there is loads that you can expand on at each step. I’ll be posting more of my thoughts and experiences along the way. Stay tuned.

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