Featured photo credit: Kristin Smith
When you have an idea for a new startup, it’s tempting to do some quick research on Google and then jump right into coding.
That’s a bad idea if you want to be sure you are on the right track. Launching a product requires a lot of effort, and it can be difficult to determine whether your idea is workable.
By following the steps below, you can greatly improve the odds of success when deciding what you should and shouldn’t pursue.
First, ask yourself these questions
Before building out any business idea, consider the following questions as you evaluate your startup idea:
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conducting market research for your business idea.
But if you can’t answer those fundamental questions early on, it’s a sign that your idea may not be worth pursuing.
Examine these sources of rock-solid intelligence
Postmortems and case studies
In any area of entrepreneurship, failure tends to be viewed as a rite of passage to running a successful business.
It’s true that many lessons are best learned firsthand, but by examining case studies and postmortems (analyses of failed projects), you can avoid reinventing the wheel and hitting the same roadblocks others faced. And conversely, case studies can provide a wealth of information on techniques that can help you succeed.
While a Google search will likely turn up many useful sources, you need to assess the credibility of each. Before believing everything in the reports, make sure you consider the following:
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Building software for the web is different from many other fields because it’s possible to create a revolutionary product with nothing more than an idea, a computer and a bit of time.
You don’t need millions of dollars for real estate, permits, lawyers and other bottlenecks.
Just sit down, write your code and success will come.
Or so it seems…
As we’ve discussed previously, venture capital and entrepreneurship is a complex field where you aren’t the center of the universe.
One of the biggest traps that entrepreneurial software developers fall into is failing to factor in the opportunity costs of pursuing a misguided idea against their productive billable rate.
Put simply, if you are billing $100 an hour and you decide to spend 100 hours on a side project, you are potentially missing out on $10,000 of revenue.
The solution to this problem is simple.
Lean development teaches how to break your ideas into manageable chunks and validate each portion before moving forward with your project.
While Agile development methods have helped developers slash development times while improving quality, Lean development principles are much easier to embrace while still delivering significant benefits.
For those unfamiliar with the term, Lean principles are based on the idea that
“an imperfect something is better than a perfect nothing.”
By building a basic prototype of an idea, you can at least determine if there is a market for your product and how best to target it.
In the past, companies often went all-in on projects, spending millions of dollars to construct online stores and other ideas. While this approach made for great headlines, it ultimately led to the demise of many businesses.
Today, in an era of limited budgets, developers need to prioritize development such that they are only focusing on features which add immediate value. By focusing on constructing a “minimal viable product” (MVP), Lean principles help to cut down on uncertainty.
In Lean development, projects are built over multiple stages, and each stage is tested to ensure the project is headed in the right direction.
By only continuing with the project if there is demand for the product, you can improve your success rate while also simplifying the product development process.
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