Hopefully at this point you’ve made the decision that you are ready to start a new business. You have done the research and feel comfortable you have an actionable idea for your company, and the business legal items are checked off and ready. Fantastic, it’s go time now. Before you start offering a product or service, you will want to do extensive customer discovery and prepare a business plan. You will need to insure you have adequate funding for the launch. Lastly, you will need to get your solution to market and acquire your first customers. We’ll break these down in turn.
In vetting your business idea, you should have already explored the market your startup will be competing in. That process will have given you a good sense of the competition and the customer needs. You likely have a strong hypothesis on what the customers want and are missing with the current vendors. It is now time to go out to a good-sized group of potential customers and ask follow-up questions. Tell them about your solution and see what you learn. This is not general fact finding, it is specific testing of your expected product. Try to poke holes in your plan using customer feedback and improve upon your plans.
Next you will need to build out a business plan for your product or service launch. This doesn’t need to be some twenty-page thing from a textbook, but it needs to be detailed enough to give you a clear roadmap. The goal of this first business plan is to help you understand the resources you will need to get your product to market. Focus on the people, tech, materials, marketing, funding. and other dependencies. Write this out into a plan that you can use to hold yourself and your initial team accountable.
Throughout the business plan process you should have identified the resources required to get your solution to market. This likely means you will need a certain amount of cash to get things done. Do you have this money in the company bank account yet? If not, where will you get it? Look into all possible solutions here before just running out to potential investors. Can you find the cash from personal outside activities? Can you get your customers or a business partners to prepay for the solution? Can you get the resources you need with an equity or deferred payment option? Be creative here.
The last step is getting your first solution, or Minimally Viable Product (“MVP”), live. In the business plan process you should know what it is going to take for this to happen. Work through the checklist you prepared and get to work finding those first customers. Try to start small and get as much feedback along the way as possible. The goal in this step is to get a small group of happy customers that really believe you have solved a problem for them, then you can work on scaling your business.