It seems that most of my readers are happy for me to – at least occasionally – talk about startups.
So, with your blessing, I thought that I would answer the most common [Internet] startup question that I come across:
How do you develop an idea into a startup? I have an idea that I think would be a very good startup but I am new to this industry and trying to figure out how to better develop this idea into a startup.
Here’s a summary of my process:
1. Spend 1 to 5 days on Google keyword searching EVERYTHING I can about my idea, possible competitors, available research (if anything), market size and so on. Basically, I want to absorb the available knowledge around my idea. Others may consider this step non-productive and do it in 2 hours.
2. I then formulate my idea into my first real attempt at a Unique Selling Proposition; fill in the blanks: “_(Name)_ is _(keywords)_ just for _(who should look for it)_ who want _(best thing)_. There’s no other _(category)_ like it because _(name)_ has _(what makes my eBiz different)_”
3. The next step is to create a 2 page executive summary of your idea, with one paragraph or so under each of the following headings: 1. problem (being solved) 2. solution (being offered 3. business model (i.e. how you intend to make money 4. sales and marketing (how you intend to get your product to market 5.the competition (come on EVERYBODY has competition!) 6. the team (please say you have a cofounder and that one of you is tech!) 7. financial overview (I don’t necessarily do any financial modeling at this stage, but you can add this para if you like).
The reason why I do this document is that it forces you to summarize all that you think that you know with the benefit of a) honing you elevator pitch (you DO have one, right?!) and b) having something to send people if, by some miracle, some investor or strategic partner falls into your lap. That’s also ONE of the reasons for taking the next step:
4. Create your first powerpoint pitch deck; I base mine on Guy Kawasaki’s Art Of The Start http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005…
(but, you can go online and find any number to copy; just keep it short).
The second reason for having one of these pitches is so that you have something to show (with little screen mockups that I create with Paint but you can create with Photoshop or one of the myriad prototyping tools out there like bo.lt).
Now that the background stuff is out of the way, I like to waste even more time by creating ‘wire frames’ (a fancy term for sketches) of what the main screens and workflow will look like.
[AJC: the new ‘lean startup’ movement pioneered by the likes of Steve Blank and Eric Ries will tell you that this step is way premature, and should be done after you have interviewed lots of potential customers to see if they even want what you are thinking of building and – if not – what they would rather you build. I’m slowly coming around to their way of thinking]
5. Then I create a landing page in LaunchRock (there’s NO reason why you shouldn’t make this page as soon as you have your USP / Step 2 … it’s just that I’m a procrastinator. [DISCLAIMER: I am an investor in LaunchRock).
Don’t forget to grab your domain names, and FaceBook and Twitter handles (HINT:fiverr.com is a great resource for getting the necessary ‘likes’ if you are short on friends)
6. Create a short Google Adwords campaign and/or FaceBook advertising campaign and see if you can get anybody to signup to your Landing Page.
7. Talk to and/or survey some real people (potential customers, not your Mom and Dad) about your idea.
8. Go back to 1. until you have Proven Kick Ass Idea With Real And Tested Market Potential.
9. NOW you can stop procrastinating and DO IT.