In this article, we’ll look at a simple process and a few business ideas to get started with your startup.
Startup success factors
Among some of the factors that might affect startups’ success over time are timing, team, idea, business model and funding. It’s important to highlight that there are many other factors to take into account.
However, to get started there are a couple of things that we want to get right, and one of them is timing.
Timing matters because if you have a great product at the wrong timing, either you have the financial resources to get going until the market will become mature. Or a strong distribution network able to push through in a market that isn’t ready yet.
Or the ability to transform and influence a whole market (just a few businessmen like Apple‘s Steve Jobs and Tesla‘s Elon Musk have this ability).
Otherwise, you will find yourself stuck in a business that won’t be successful. But how do you know in which market condition are you operating?
Above the innovation matrix from Greg Satell’s “Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age.”
- The discovery phase
- The engineering phase,
- And then the transformation phase.
When it comes to innovation mapping he suggests to ask two basic questions:
First is, how well is the problem defined? For example, could you define a technical specification for this particular problem? If you can determine a technical specification, well, then that’s a pretty well-defined problem.
And the second question is, how well is the domain defined? Meaning what set of skills do you need to solve this problem? Again, sometimes you can define those domains very, very well, you can think exactly the job descriptions you would use to help staff up a project like that.
…So that’s the power of the innovation matrix is by narrowing down what set of solutions or what set of strategies are best fit to solve a particular problem.
The first step is to map the territory is to understand in which context you are going to operate. For instance, if you are about to launch a startup in the blockchain space, you know this is a space that still has a massive component of technological innovation (as of 2020).
In that context, the key customer that can help you scale the business is not there yet.
This means that if you ask a simple question: how far is my key customer from buying my product/service?
Based on the answer, you’ll understand if a market does exist or if it doesn’t. In the latter case, you need substantial upfront funds to create, educate and eventually reach that new market.
You need to make sure to:
- Have enough money to survive while the market builds up
- Have enough funds to create the new market
- Find a use case which is in fit with the current market
On the other side, if you’re operating in an existing market, where there is already a clear customer profile, you don’t need funds, you can bootstrap your idea right away. The market will be your best ally, and customers your best advisors to grow the business.
Once you understand the context you can map on a single page the kind of business you want to build. You don’t need complex tools or business plans (unless you’re going to ask for investments, in that case, you need a solid business plan and a pitch deck).
Instead, a piece of paper with some key elements of how you want your business to look like will do.
You can map a few key elements initially:
- What core problem am I solving? (problem definition)
- Who are my potential key customers? (customer profiling)
- Where can I find them? (distribution)
Venture capital-backed startups
If you’re starting a company in the AI or blockchain space, there will be more chances you might need to look for venture capital funds.
Bootstrapping your startup
If you are launching in a defined market you can build your startup with minimum resources, no funding, and primarily your sweat equity. Some domains where you can start right away are:
B2B vs B2C
Testing business ideas
When ready for the experimentation phase it’s important to take into account the risk associated with each idea by looking at the potential worst-case scenario.
In other words, in order to prioritize ideas and also the kind of experimental approach to have you might want to ask:
- What happens in the worst-case scenario, which is the idea will fail badly?
- And another fundamental question is about reversibility. In case the idea fails badly, would the previous scenario be restored? Is it reversible?
In the scenario, of an idea which carries high potential negative outcomes, and that is not reversible, even if the idea has high growth potential, that is too risky to undertake quickly.
It becomes therefore, important to slow down, test, measure thoroughly and only after careful consideration go on with a wider experiment and roll out.
In an opposite scenario, where there is no rough worst-case scenario, and the whole process is reversible, going with a fast-paced experimental approach works well!
Some ideas for a quick launch and experimentation
If you’re looking for a few quick ideas but low cash investments:
- 1. Affiliate Marketing
- 2. Infoproducts
- 3. Email marketing
- 4. Google AdSense
- 5. Consulting
- 6. Branded stories
- 7. Paid reviews
- 8. Banner Ads
- 9. Sponsored Blog Posts
- 10. Members Only Content
- 11. Paid Business Directory
- 12. Become a Coach
- 13. Accept Donations
- 14. Charge For ‘Premium’ Content
- 15. Sell Your Blog
- 16. Build your SaaS
- 17. Speaking Gigs
- 18. Create & Sell Your Product
- 19. Write Tutorials & Guides
- 20. Live Workshops
- 21. Find Sponsors For An Event
- 22. Generate ‘leads’ for other companies
- 23. Create a job board
- 24. Advertise pages
- 25. Host paid webinars
- 26. Writing Gigs
Other business resources:
- What Is Business Model Innovation And Why It Matters
- What Is a Business Model? 30 Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide To Business Development
- Business Strategy: Definition, Examples, And Case Studies
- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
- What Is Market Segmentation? the Ultimate Guide to Market Segmentation
- Marketing Strategy: Definition, Types, And Examples
- Marketing vs. Sales: How to Use Sales Processes to Grow Your Business
- How To Write A Mission Statement
- What is Growth Hacking?