Having a great idea is only the first step to building a startup, and admittedly, it’s both the most important and least important aspect of building a business. Most importantly, because without an idea that can disrupt what’s normal, you’ll get nowhere, and least importantly, because even the best ideas fail when they aren’t executed properly. So if you want to learn how to build a startup that makes a mark, check out this little guide.
Does the idea work?
Sometimes ideas that sound silly actually end up having great potential, and ideas that feel like they could revolutionise the market fall flat when it comes to grabbing actual attention. Learning how to build a startup has to first and foremost begin with market research.
- Run a few surveys with your target audience to see whether your idea is viable or not. Talking to people can give you a great insight into what the needs and wants for your idea look like.
- Find industry insiders who can give you a real rundown on how to build a startup that can stay relevant. While possible customers can tell you their likes and dislikes, the mechanics of the industry are not something they can shed light on. Find experts and people relevant to your field and try to reach out for a conversation (heck, buy them a coffee).
- Look to your neighbours, i.e., is there competition? Does a similar product/service exist?
- Is your idea catering to a specific niche? If yes, how can you reach them better?
- Test out a prototype! It doesn’t matter if you have an app, a product or a service. You can offer it to people for free as a trial and see what they think. This “soft launch” of sorts can help you quality control before you hit the actual market.
These are some questions you should answer before you take the plunge.
Work that business plan
Don’t let the words “business plan” scare you. When you are trying to figure out how to build a startup, the reality is that you will need to put together an amazing pitch to find funding that can bring your idea to life. If you don’t have a business background, you can simply use free online resources (and hey, we have a few tips for founders too!) to practice.
- Build a business model canvas that can provide a decent explainer on what you’re up to. Tools such as Strategyzer can help you paint a very decent picture of what you’re trying to do.
- Develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) outline that can help you outline all the different things you are offering to your end user along with why they should care.
This will look very basic when you first start figuring out how to build a startup, but these are the things that will help you develop your pitches to investors at later stages.
If you look at the news, it’ll make it seem like there are startups flying up into the sky with one funding run after another. The reality is that if you are figuring out how to build a startup, you will be starting with either your own savings or “funding” through crowdsourcing, help from family and friends, etc. Your initial plans should be ambitious for sure, but that ambition needs to focus on long-term goals. Many startups crash and burn because they’re trying to do too much in very little time. What kind of shortcuts can you take?
- Partner up with someone who can offer you their skills and services in exchange for stakes.
- Look for students and interns who are trying to get some experience under their belts and on their CVs.
- Use free resources for things such as marketing. Canva, for example, is an excellent free tool to make social media posts for multiple platforms.
But at the end of the day, if you’re trying to learn how to build a startup, the best advice anyone can give you is to not be afraid of failure. Each time you fail, you’ll just learn something new and finetune your process and product.