Get The Benefit of Hindsight Before You Start

By now surely most of you will be familiar with the excellent Startup podcast. If not, have you been living in a cave? It’s a brutally honest portrayal of what it takes to launch a tech company with the main protagonists doing lots wrong and right as they make their way through the entrepreneurial minefield. They’ve just begun a new mini-series to keep us happy before the third one starts.

The second season came to a close a little while back following Dating Ring. The final show saw Startup host Alex Blumberg ask Emma Tessler, Dating Ring co-founder, whether there was anything she would have done differently given the chance to go back and do it again. The reply was something that resonated a lot with us.

I’m not starting another company without doing a lot of surveys first. You think people want something … but once you make them pay for it it’s so different

Emma Tessler

It seems obvious, and hindsight is a glorious thing, but you’d be surprised how few people take this mantra on board when starting a new online business.

Customer validation is a key part of any project and it’s critical that the founders of a startup know their market before launching into any sort of product development. Businesses also have to make money and there should be a plan in place as to how to get cash from your punters. This should usually be something other than just “advertising”.

Your assumption might be that a user will pay a certain amount for this service but this, like every other assumption you’ve made, must be tested. While one person may say that they’d pay £5 a month for an idea you’ve had it’s much more important that you get someone to actually give you this money. People say a lot of things but that doesn’t mean they’ll do them.

The Lean Startup, a book that we constantly recommend to people who come through the door, also recognises the importance of getting people to pay for your service as early as possible. If you can get someone to fork over cold, hard cash for a service then you know you are onto something that people want. If they aren’t then you either need to improve your offering or find a better idea.