So, you’ve already experienced your light bulb moment. Now you’re chomping at the bit to take the next steps in order to make your startup great. What’s next? Although your journey will most likely be comprised of many steps, phases, milestones—and, probably, hurdles—you’ve got to start somewhere. Read on for a basic checklist to get started on developing your idea. With Global Startup Battle right around the corner, startups all over the world will be focusing on taking their startup idea to the next level.
Entrepreneurs and innovators who have launched their big idea on a .CO are encouraged to compete in Global Startup Battle’s Innovators’ Track—this year’s prizes include a paid trip to The Next Web Amsterdam, WeWork co-working space, and much more.
This checklist has been created by the Founder Institute, which is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program. Founder Institute helps aspiring founders across the globe develop technology companies that stand the test of time. Participants competing on GSB’s Innovators Track will also have the chance to win access to Founder Institute’s valuable resources.
- Start With Passion
Like everything else important in life, every entrepreneurial journey should start with a passion. Without passion, your startup is bound to flop. Like raising a child, there is a long-term commitment involved. There is a very good chance you will be working on your startup for several years to come. Make sure you like what you’re doing!
Additionally, if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, potential investors, customers, press, and other contacts will see right through you. Investors especially are usually far more interested in the “Why You?” versus about the over-arching “Why” of your idea.
- Keep it Simple
Although it’s true that it’s crucial to “think big” when embarking on your startup’s journey, it’s even more important to keep it simple. If you think about it, all of the great businesses—including startups—have started with a very simple idea. Start simply first—expand later. It’s important to intimately be acquainted with the “what, who and why” of your startup. Take a step back and identify the one thing you want to create, the one customer you need to build it for, and the one reason why it needs to be built.
- Stick With One Revenue Stream
You want and need to make money, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that it’s important right out of the gate to figure out how you’re going to make that money. Often times, entrepreneurs think that the more revenue streams, the better. Not true. Focus solely on what is the best avenue to pursue in order to make the profit you need to make to succeed.
- Limit Steps Needed to Make Money
As noted above, at the end of the day, you need to make money. And it’s preferable that you make that money sooner rather than later. The more steps there are to revenue, the more complicated and difficult it will be to develop and execute your idea.
What are the things that need to happen before you can make a dollar? If you identify more than 3 steps on your way to making a dollar, it’s wise to scale it back to 3 steps.
- Know the Customer
It’s vital to your startup’s development that you have clearly identified who you are helping, what exactly they need, why they need it, how they would be willing to solve their problem, what they spend their money on, what goals they have in life…the list goes on and on. In simpler terms, you need to have a very specific customer in mind.
It’s necessary to take it further than “my customer is female, lives in North America and makes $75,000 a year. What does her professional life look like? Personal life? What is important to her? How will your idea help her, specifically? Also, there’s nobody you know more intimately than yourself. That is why so many great businesses have been formed from personal need.
- Know the Market
It’s pretty much a given that there are already several people—and/or startups—spending most of their lives developing your same (or extremely similar) idea. In order to win, you need to throw yourself head first into your market in order to have the requisite insight and vision needed to win. If you are not an expert on your specific market, then it’s time to work quickly to become one.
- Target a Sufficiently Large Market
Very large, rapidly flourishing markets have the power to bring mediocre companies into greatness. On the flipside, dying markets can drive otherwise solid companies into the ground. If you are going to devote your life to an idea, the market where you operate better be big enough (or growing at such a fast rate) to support a meaningful and enduring company. Any market with less than 10 million people or multiple billions in annual revenue that is not growing at a very fast rate will be very hard to win, and is usually not worth devoting your time to.
- Original secret sauce
Every great business has a secret sauce. Given, not every single company may launch with that secret sauce, but building a company without a plan for how you will differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack and ultimately succeed is a surefire way to fail. What secret do you know that will help you win? For example, Tony Hsieh started Zappos with a very specific secret sauce – the customer service component. His key insight was that purchasing shoes online was in fact a customer service problem, and not a retail problem.
- Try to Kill Your Idea (before anyone else does)
Nobody—and no business—has achieved greatness merely by believing everything is perfect about themselves is perfect. Critique and criticism is vital. You must have a thick skin. One of your primary jobs in the idea stage of your startup is to find the things that make your idea bad. Try to make your idea crumble, and then, one-by-one, iterate and eliminate the negative aspects of the idea in order to make it flourish. The result will be a much more defensible foundation by which to start.
- Never Stop Pitching
Building on #9, you’ve got to share your idea. You should constantly be pitching your to anyone and everyone who will listen, and incorporating all of the input your receive into improving the idea. Feedback is an entrepreneur’s best friend.
Now, get back to making your idea great and telling the world about it!