Have a great idea that you believe will change the world? Want to disrupt the market and be the next big thing?
If you are taking the leap of being an entrepreneur, you are probably part of just 7% in the world doing so.
Thread with caution and make sure you are getting your foundation right.
Here is a simple roadmap that you should consider
1/ Answer the ‘what, why & how’ questions
+ What problem are you trying to solve?
+ Why it needs to be solved?
+ How are you going to solve it?
It’s likely you would have already been presented with these questions and have probably been able to address the same.
The ideation stage is also the ideal time to research the kind of team and resources you’ll need to run the show.
And, if by now, you know how to turn your vision into an early prototype, you will be much more likely to secure seed-stage investors who can get you off the ground.
(P.S: Knowing that ‘90% startups fail’ could be a true fact, and as a country blooming with startups, it becomes essential to know how we could all get things right or copy from example)
2/ Minimum Viable Product Stage
The bare minimum version of the product that could solve the problem you identified.
That’s essentially what you should be focusing on in this stage.
It is in the iterative process of the Lean Startup methodology – “build, measure, learn” – where MVP essentially appears. It will involve collecting validated information from the initial users and then using the acquired knowledge to continue developing the product.
Be warned that this loop can often feel like you’ve gotten yourself into hot water as you might have to pivot repeatedly before you can persevere.
This is simply because you're testing at an early stage of development, even before you fully understand what your customers really want.
And that is why, actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect relationships are key.
Simply put, An MVP brings the ideal customer flow to life.
And once you have a bare-bones version of the product, go ahead adding more meat into building on those wireframes and prototypes
3/ The Early Launch Stage
"14% of startups fail due to not regarding customers’ needs"
How do you stave off this undesirable occurrence?
Once you have a minimum viable product version built, you can release it to a very small segment of customers. At this stage, it is only better to not bite off more than you can chew already. Hence, choose a handful trusted people and fill them in on what you’re trying to accomplish so they understand the product in its ideal form.
After fully testing the features, your initial customers would now be in a much better position to provide you with their constructive feedback:
+ How they are using the product
+ If the product actually solves the intended problem
+ If they see any problems with it
+ The most impactful benefits they experienced so far
+ If the product could have a wider application than originally intended
To recapitulate, Build > Measure > Learn!
4/ The Product Market Fit Stage
Caveat: Finding product-market fit (PMF) takes time and diligent work.
Fact: In 46% of the cases, the #1 reason why startups fail is due to misreading market demand.
What you need:
A core group of happy and referenceable customers in your target market segment.
After you progress through the iterations and gather some confidence in your product, begin to slowly release it to a wider audience.
The objective is to scale from your first customers to a repeatable selling motion.
Getting enough critical mass to generate a tail wind.
Winning one market segment is not enough. There’s just a lot to chase – new geographies, new verticals, extensions of use cases, new buyers, etc.
You need to establish a PMF in every intersection of use case and customer type.
Battling this myriad of challenges requires a strong alignment as an executive team.
Needless to say; consider risk, reversibility, and strategic alignment as each marks an important stage that your company will need to address.
Just play every hand, you can’t miss them all!
5/ The Growth Stage
If you have diligently continued to improve your product during the previous stages, there will be clear tell-tale signs of your startup moving towards the growth phase.
With the teething problems at a gradual decline, this phase would be a whole new ballgame with a new set of areas demanding your attention.
And so, to shift gears, you will need to device new strategies – converging into a more ‘structured’ adaptation of the existing systems/ processes.
Certain avenues you could look at:
The metrics will become more complicated and manual data gathering process would turn obsolete. Investing in automating the processes will help you grow systematically.
+ A solid team:
Your business will now have to manage more revenue, more customers, more competition and more employees. So, if you delegate more, you will achieve more.
And of course, a host of other factors key to fuel this growth!
Tiding over these phases will come with come with consistent practice, and so, utilize all the strategies at your disposal to achieve them.
But importantly, get out there and be ready for the grind