It’s a new year so now’s the perfect time to grab the bull by the horns and get started on that idea you’ve been sat on for a while. Exciting times lie ahead – so here’s our guide to getting the ball rolling today.
What’s the first step?
People look at the things they could do to get started and they get the hard things and the easy things mixed up. Web agencies will pick up the phone and talk to you, while technologies exist that can get to Mars so finding a partner and building your app will be possible. That’s the easy stuff.
The hard stuff is getting the vision and building the right thing. That’s where you need to start. The good news is that the first steps towards that are actually really quick and simple, you can have done them all by this time next week.
The key is to learn as much as possible, that’s how established start-ups develop their ideas. Don’t worry, you won’t need any technical knowledge – these are methodologies anyone can follow.
Simplify your idea
You probably have complicated ideas in your head for features that your new product needs to have. Maybe you’re stuck on the exact implementation of a particular interaction. It’s a fun brain exercise but it’s a waste of your time at this point.
Features are designed with users and you have no users. So, free up that brain space. Does that feel better? Good! Now let’s put that thinking time to use.
What you need to do right now is look at the bigger picture. What’s the basic problem you’re trying to solve and why are you trying to solve it? What assumptions have you made in answering that? Write all that down on a piece of paper. You are now officially started. If you are confident in both your top level vision and the things you still need to learn then that’s all you need to move on to the next step.
Fill in the Lean Canvas for your idea. It’ll make you think about all the different top level aspects of your business.
Meet a potential customer
Once you’ve worked out the basic idea for your product you need to know who it’s for. It sounds obvious but many people haven’t fully explored this before approaching someone to work with.
Identify your customer and then go out, find some of these people and talk to them. Everything up until now you’ve come up with is an assumption about what these people’s problems are. Now you get the chance to talk to them and find out whether you’re right. You should be asking them lots of questions and listening intently.
At no point does someone in your family or a close friend count as a customer here, these must be people that you don’t know.
Read The Mom Test – this will change the way you think about research and interviewing users.
Put something together that illustrates what your product is. This should be something that’s done quickly with little or no coding. This is not a product or even an MVP, it’s an early prototype that you’ll used to tell the story of your business.
The wonderful Happy Startup School have a great 12 point list that gives some ideas of what you can make without any technical knowledge.
If you’ve completed these steps and not learnt something that changes how you think about your idea then you didn’t do them properly. Now feed that learning into your vision. Has it changed what you should be offering and to whom? What assumptions need testing next?
Repeat the process. Learn more. Get used to this, successful startups never leave the cycle. Eventually it will become clear what you should be building. Even once you’ve got a product the learning techniques you are developing here will be the ones which drive future development and innovation.
Having done this you’ll be in the perfect position to start thinking about actually building a product. You’ll know lots more about what it is that you’re trying to build and will be able to communicate this with potential partners.
Without this in place you won’t know enough to answer the questions that these people will ask. A little groundwork will benefit everyone involved in the project.
So what are you waiting for?