Launching a new venture is an exciting process and with technology advancing rapidly, it has become easier than ever before to develop a product and reach an audience of a massive scale. Because of this, we encounter new startups on a daily basis, some of which succeed and some of which enter the realm of non-existence. While it is easy to think of an idea, the execution requires hardship, agility and the ability to face numerous unexpected challenges. Based on my own experiences of starting new ventures and working with fellow talented entrepreneurs, I have created a short, but highly valuable checklist to help you on your journey.
Verify Market Demand
It may sound axiomatic to some, however all too often I still encounter people who have a "billion-dollar idea” and decide to launch yet another social network or standardized eCommerce store. Unfortunately, the market demand in many of these areas has already been satisfied by large companies, such as FaceBook for social networking and Amazon for eCommerce purchases.
The process of verifying market demand can be lengthy, but the results will reduce the involved risk tremendously by avoiding paths leading towards decaying markets and by validating the potential gains. So how do you begin this process? There are two keywords: Data and Research.
Make note of multiple ideas which come to your mind and learn more about the existing competitors (if there are any). Here are some sample questions:
- Are they corporations?
- What drives customers do their product or service?
- What is the involved overhead in launching a venture in this sector?
- What is the correlation between demand and supply in this area?
While data in itself is useless, understanding and comprehending it will shine a light upon your path to guide you through the darkness.
Create a solid business plan
Continuing the analogy above, data will give you the light while your business plan defines the initial direction. It is a true rarity for any new venture to stick with a rigid business plan until the bitter end, but it is critical to specify your desired goals and illustrate your designed concept. Don’t spend too much time writing a 100 page business plan based on the waterfall management process, but focus instead on answering the following questions:
- What are we developing and why?
- Who are our potential customers?
- How will the venture receive funding?
- What do we desire to achieve with this venture?
- Who will be working on this venture?
- How will it be developed?
Keep using the words “what, who, how” and more importantly “why”. These will give you, your advisors and partners a better understanding of the business you want to operate and serve you as a map for the times when you feel lost. That feeling will hit anyone heading down this path at one point or another.
Seek for mentors and advisors
It always strikes me how little people ask for help and I am by far no exception. The mere thoughts of asking for help left me feeling embarrassed. On the other hand, whenever someone would come to ask me for guidance or assistance, I would rarely ever say no since I am too familiar with the feeling of being lost. This notion most certainly got me thinking and I begun reaching out to people within and outside of my network. It was surprising to see just how eager they were to help even if we met for the very first time and all it took was a simple phone call (and maybe buying them a cup of coffee out of appreciation).
It has absolutely nothing to do with incompetence, but with a lack of experience. The mentors and advisors you choose may come with years of valuable experience and that information helps you prevent making the same mistakes as they have done. While there is nothing wrong with learning from your own failures, there is nevertheless no need to waste your time repeating the history of others.
So go ahead! Look for people both within and outside of your network. Write them an email, give them a call and buy them cup of coffee. Some might say no, but many will be there for you.