When you start thinking about a new idea for a startup, you should consider a few things in the beginning. First of all, you have to remember that an idea means nothing without a plan, and actions for getting customers, and finding the right people for your startup.
Who is your product designer?
One of the common mistakes that a startup founder makes is wanting to build a complex solution based on his assumptions, without interaction with customers. Why does he know better what customers need? He does not know, but the desire of the own product is so enormous that he forgets that the customer is the main designer of every single product in the world. Somewhere, I heard an excellent phrase that reflects what I mean:
If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.
I could say the same thing about the relation between a startup founder and customers:
If you don’t understand customers’ needs, you do not know where you are going and what your product should look like.
How to find customers?
You will ask yourself the same question when you have the product. What if your assumptions are wrong? Redesigning or changing your product is probably not something you want to do before your first sale; that is why you need to test all of your hypotheses by listening to end users very carefully and as often as possible. Find potential customers on local meetups, send cold emails, use LinkedIn, AngelList, or other tools to build your business network. You need to take a lot of actions, and you should be a very communicative person to attract people. Do a lot of experiments to find the right source of customers, and remember that you have to give something to get something back. The best strategy is to give feedback about customers’ businesses that can help them to improve their services; it increases your chances to get feedback on your startup in return. You can only rely on your imagination and creativity to get contacts to ideal customers.
To help yourself find customers, you can prepare an ideal customer profile. The ICP is a way to describe and define your perfect customer. If you often think about your customers, it means that you are on the right track to shape your vision of your product. Some articles on the Internet can help you build the right buyer profile:
- Close.io – Ideal Customer Profile
- SixteenVentures.com – Ideal Customer Profile
- BidSketch.com – Customer Profile Template
You should remember that, although building the ICP is part of the planning stage, you need to take action as soon as possible because the next step is to find a few contacts and share your ideas. Only customer feedback can move you on the right road.
Get the right people to put your idea into the reality.
Finding the right team members for your startup is just as difficult as finding customers. You can hire the best software engineers or the best salespeople and still fail. Why?
The startup is something unknown and undefined, and that is why it needs unusual steps, untypical actions, and results-driven people.
Only team members who are used to failures and mistakes can survive in your startup; only a smart and clever team can deliver what you desire. Finding the right people is a big challenge, but your success depends on it. Take a look at this interesting article, as it expresses what I would like to say to you: Hiring for Your Startup: 3 Tips to Find the Right People.
Build a sample of your product and show it to the world.
When you discover customers’ needs and which customers’ problems your product should solve, the next step is to prepare your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). What is MVP? The best definition I have found is as follows:
Building an MVP is a strategy for avoiding the development of products that customers do not want. The idea is to rapidly build a minimum set of features that is enough to deploy the product and test key assumptions about customers’ interactions with the product. Quora.com
I love this definition, and it is all that I would like to expose to you in this article. Verify your assumptions as soon as possible and allow customers to shape the product. If you understand customers’ needs, you will omit a lot of mistakes. Remember that each mistake costs time and money. On the other hand, you will never eliminate all mistakes in your startup; you can only reduce their number. The trick is to make mistakes that do not hurt so much.
What are your thoughts on this subject and how mistakes have changed your startup? Leave a comment and share your experience to help others.