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How to build a “Startup” [in 5 Steps]

How to build a “Startup” [in 5 Steps]

So you wanna build a startup? You want to change the world? Help people by solving their problems? Influence a billion lives? Great!

Steps to build a startup

Now all of this isn’t going to happen and is gonna stay in your dreams unless you have enough funds to build your MVP and take that one last step — Quitting your day job!

Disclaimer: If you have a family to support or if you’re about to get a baby in the next two years or if your family depends on your monthly income, pls stop reading this article right now! Come back when you have set up a passive income for yourself and your family(There are a million ways to do this, like Fixed deposit interest, e-commerce selling, blog writing, franchise opportunities, etc. But this article is not intended to explain all of this. May be I’ll write another one. For now this is not for you!)

1. Ideation [Speak to people and ask for their problems]

It might be a spark that struck you when you were star gazing, you’ve landed up with an idea that you think is great! Cool! Go to step 2. If not the only way to endup in an idea is by “talking to people”. Ask this million-dollar question, “What is your biggest problem?”. Patiently listen to them and don’t try to propose a solution to their problem. Ask more questions like “Why is that a problem?”, “What have you tried doing to solve this problem?”, etc. Sometimes people themselves give you the solution and say they just don’t have the time or capability to build it.

Startup Idea stage

You might want to try talking to people in different domains(especially non tech). Because tech enables non tech industries to flourish. Problems reside in non tech industries. If you wanted to solve a tech problem, you might still want to talk to your “potential” customers to see if your software is something they would pay you for.

2. Customer validation

Once you’ve identified people’s problems, choose a problem that you are passionate about solving. Pick one of the people you interviewed and propose a tech solution to their problem. Ask if they’d pay for it. If not move on…

Customer Validation
Talk to more people until someone says “yes! I’d love to pay for it”. Try to get a check in advance and if they do give you one then they are serious about it.

Quickly talk to other people who might need your solution and validate your idea. See if they’d pay for it too.

Make sure to do your market research and identify your addressable segment. There are no concrete numbers for any industry but by doing a Google search you should be able to find some numbers out there.

3. Minimum viable product

It’s time to build your startup’s product now(minimally).

But you’ll need money, at least $10,000. If you don’t have money, you should reach out to potential investors. It is easy to get rejected at this stage, but, don’t give up and keep trying until you find someone who trusts you.

MVP development
MVP — While thinking about your product everyday, there might be a ton of features that you “think” will be useful to your customers but first work on the smallest piece of your product that will fetch you instant money from your customers. If you’re a tech entrepreneur you might not need any help with development, but if you’re a non tech founder, don’t try to learn software development. Outsource to a small team of expert software developers who won’t charge a lot but help you solve your customers’ problem by thinking about workflows and user experiences that will be obvious for your customers and easy to use. Teaming up with a tech co-founder might be useful too. But there are disadvantages. Like he/she may not be really passionate about the problem that you are trying to solve (although they “think” and “claim” to be so). They might not be willing to go that extra mile like quitting their day job due to which there might be unforeseen delays that will just push your mvp development longer.

Hire a software development team to ensure your product is built within the budget with the latest technology and on time. It also becomes crucial at this point because the very next step in scale. When you’re trying to scale up, your software needs to scale too, “automagically” and you don’t want it to go down when your customers are using your product. You lose credibility of your customers, if your software does not scale.

4. Scale

Once you’ve built your MVP and have given your product to your first few customers, going beyond them is what your start up life is all about. Do marketing… digital marketing!

Digital Marketing
Reach out to more people, write blogs, run ads on Facebook and places where you’re potential customers hangout. Answer questions on forums, establish yourself as an expert in that domain.

You might want to consider raising funds for your startup as it makes sense now, because you have a product, you have paying customers, you know who might be your potential future customers, you know for sure they are going to buy and you know the size of the market and your addressable segment. But all you need is money. Seeking out funding from angel investors, venture capitals, etc. at this point is crucial for scaling your product because marketing needs money. A lot of money!.

5. Sell your startup

Every product’s life graph is like a hockey stick. There is an initial investment until you start making money. So your time-money graph line goes down for sometime and when you start making money it comes back up to 0(your break-even point). Then you keep growing for a few years until your product is going to be eaten up by your competition, which is when you sell off your company, if not you’ll watch your product slowly die.

That’s it

These are the 5 steps that “I think” every solo entrepreneur should follow, in order to build a startup. Of course there is much more to this and it’s a lot harder than it sounds as it takes a great deal of commitment and scarifice to build and sustain a startup as a founder. But if you are passionate and only “passionate” you get to become successful!

Happy “Startup”ing!!!

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