It has been an incredible experience and truly an eye-opener hosting the first four UnLtd USA Startup + Drive events which were held in Oakland, Boulder, Austin and New Orleans. Throughout this journey and my interactions with various entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, several themes emerged, one of which I will share with you today.
As the realm of social entrepreneurship picks up momentum, I hear more and more people coming up with great ideas that can change the world. What I don't hear about is these people converting their great ideas into high impact viable businesses.
The reason being is that most people just never get started. Despite their best of intentions, most people get bogged down to the nitty-gritty or start doing things that don't matter at the early startup phase.
So before you catch the paralysis by analysis bug or start running around like a headless chicken, here are six things you need to know and do.
1. Regardless of what your startup business is, forget about building a cool website, coming up with a catchy business name, designing flashy business cards for you and your buddies or talk about scaling your business. These things will not matter if you don't actually end up building a business.
2. Determine who you want to serve. Who is going to be the beneficiary of your product / service? What do they look like? Once you got that figured out, go out there and start talking to them. Tell them what you want to do for them. No good will come out of spending months building an amazing concept only to find out that nobody wants it. Talk to your customers early and talk to them often.
3. Build your product or service with the minimal number of parts at the minimal cost...this is also known as a "Minimal Viable Product" or MVP. There is no such thing as that perfect product / service because what you perceive customers wanting might actually be very different to what they actually want.
4. Having that said, the sooner you get your product / service out there in the market, the sooner you get to start testing your customer's appetite. This is also known as validating your concept. At this stage you get to hear what people have to say about your offering and how they interact with it. This is your opportunity to continuously iterate your offering, transforming it into something that will actually benefit people.
5. If your customers love what you are doing for them, get them to buy your offering. Until an actual transaction takes place, everything else is just theory.
6. Experiment. Until you can get access to a crystal ball that tells you how things will fold out, you need to experiment to know what works and what doesn't. So you have a theory for change, go out there and try it out. If it works, improve it, if it doesn't, trash it and stop losing another night of sleep.
Don't let this post be another bedtime reading. Get out there and get your business up and running. I would love to hear your journeys, what works and what doesn't in the comments section below.