Monday, March 11, 2013

Questions To Ask Before Launching Your Startup

You've heard that launching a startup is tough. Sure it is. It's a pain in the ass. Not everyone is cut out to do it. It can be a long road, and sometimes and endless road. Before you pack your bags and hit the road you better be sure you're ready to do this. Before we began to write code on SlimSurveys we asked ourselves three simple questions. By asking ourselves three simple questions, and doing a little leg work ahead of time, we'll [hopefully] save ourselves a lot of headaches down the road. As you answer the questions below please make sure you're honest with yourself, otherwise you're going to waste a ton of time. If you need help getting started drop me an email and let's chat. 

#1 Are you solving a real problem?

The worst thing you can do is to start a business just to start a business. One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs make is going into business and not solving a real problem. Your business is destined to fail if this is the approach you are taking. There are lots of problems out there to be solved or underserved markets to go after. Not to mention, a lot of existing products to be improved upon. The best businesses usually come naturally. They are organic and born through solving a problem you or someone close to you has encountered. Problems are everywhere you look. You just need to be "ready" in order to spot them. 

How you can get started:
Start by identifying problems you or those around you are experiencing in every day life. If you or people you know have the problem, there will most likely be someone else who has that same problem as well. Go into business to solve a problem, preferably a problem you have experienced yourself.  Once you have determined the problem exists (and is real), you need to come up with a solution. Then, you must ask yourself if this is something you need to be solving, or if it would be better to let someone else solve it. In fact, there may already be someone who is solving the problem. If that is the case, it is in your best interest to look for competitors and see how your solution stacks up. Will you be able to do it better, cheaper, faster, etc. than them? 

#2 Can you make money with your solution?
Sure, you identified a problem or an underserved market, built an amazing solution, but will people pay for it? That is the real question if you plan to turn your idea into a business. Can it make money? That is the next thing you need to figure out. The sooner you can answer this question the better off you'll be in the long-run.

How you can get started:
Make a list of potential business models for making profit (not just revenue) is a good place to begin.  How are you going to do it? Will you sell products online? Or will you create amazing content and get advertisers to pay you for eye balls? Is your business model somewhere in between? Once you have a list of ways you'll make money figure out the quickest way you can see if the models hold up in the real world. Figure out ways to test your models whether it's talking to potential customers or creating landing pages and driving traffic to them. Will people give you money for the solution? Do they pay the price you are setting for your product? If so, is it scalable to reach the masses? The best business models are the ones where you invest a dollar and get $10 back, and can repeat over and over again. 

#3 Can you build it?
So, you've made it this far. You've identified a problem, come up with a solution that people are willing to pay for, but can you build it? Yeah, of course you can! All you need to do is figure out how you are going to bring it to fruition. It doesn't matter what problem you're solving, whether it's that coffee shop in your community that doesn't exist, a service that let's you travel to space or a simple survey tool where less truly means more. Like the great Napoleon Hill said, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." What are you waiting for?

How you can get started:
Whatever you plan to bring to the market requires a plan. Create your plan, your blueprints of what it is that you want to build. Draw it out, scribble on paper and get your thoughts on paper. Until you do this your thoughts are...well, just thoughts. As you lay the groundwork of your plan to bring your solution to the market there is no question that you can do it alone. You may be a jack-of-all-trades or a master of just one. Whatever the case may be, you will need to bring on additional people around you that specialize in a particular areas of your business to make it successful. These people may come as employees, mentors, advisors, or investors. Everything comes with a cost, but these folks will help you execute your plan.