Most of the people think that there is no defined formula to start a startup. I agree with that. But there are some defined steps/rules that we can follow in launching a startup.
I have read many blogs, followed many startup writers, entrepreneurs and have read few books to know these steps in launching a startup.
- Start to build audience when you decide that you want to start a startup.
- Get startup idea by observing problems around your surroundings and people.
- Finding a perfect solution to the problem and validating whether this solution is suitable to your customers.
- Building a prototype of the product and getting feedback from your initial customers.
- Developing the main product with the help of feedback collected from the initial audience.
- Conducting experiments and tests often to explore what must be improved in your product.
- Growth hack your product to reach to wider audience.
Most of the startups in the recent years have started to build their own fan base before launching their products.
So, if you have decided to build a product then your first step should be building your fan base and not in discovering problems or brainstorming ideas.
Build audience around certain topic, write blogs in niche topics, teach tutorials, network as if you gonna die tomorrow , write guest blogs in other publications, use LinkedIn to connect with people in your interest, share informative slides in slideshare, write informative articles in quora, answer some questions in quora.
By doing this you can have a fan base in a time period. If you have a co-founder ask him/her to do the same.
Most of the startup ideas are the solutions to problems that the founders had faced in their life. So list out some of the problems you are facing in your day to day life.
Create a spreadsheet and list out all the problems you are facing. Ask your friends and family about the problems they are facing and list them out. When you have got enough problems brainstorm some solutions to these problems.
Go to some sites like product hunt , beta list, startuplist and see all products and try to observe what problems these products are trying to solve and note down the products that solve your problems in your day today life.
If you are already using some products that solves your problem but not to the level as you expected then you could try to build a better version of it.
After finding a perfect solution to the problem you have to find out whether this solution satisfies your customer or not. So you have to make sure whether to continue solving the problem in the way you have assumed or have to pivot to some other way.
Best way of doing this is finding your target customers and sharing your solution with them. If you are developing a recruitment software then you can approach some companies that find difficult to recruit talents.
If you find your customers are not satisfied you can pivot your solution and can get feedback why they are not satisfied by your solution. So from this you can get a clear picture of where the original problem is and can generate idea solving that.
After knowing that your customers are satisfied by your solution you can develop a mini-product of your main product and give it to your customers.
For example, if you are building a messaging app for enterprises for communicating with their teams ( yeah! you got it , its slack ) you can develop a small chat application and give it to your customers.
By doing this, you can get enormous feedback from your customers and can get a clear vision of what features your customers need.
In building a prototype, you can always limit the features and can provide only core features of the product. For example, in the chat application the core features may be chat window , forming groups easily around topics.
In the prototype you could have validated what features the customers require and what features you guessed are useless for the customers.
For example, When slack was used as the prototype in few companies, slack team found that people are finding it difficult to get the group purpose so they created a option to enter the purpose of why the particular group is formed.Then when people in the company chatting about their product slack team found people find it difficult to share dropbox files and some people find it difficult to share the to-dos. So they integrated dropbox with slack to give better experience.
So when developing the product you have to get all the feedback from the initial customers and develop the product accordingly.
Development of the product is always a continuous process. It cannot come to an end.
After developing and launching the product to your initial customers and to your fan base you have created in the past, you have to conduct series of experiments in your product to know where to improve your product features, what features must be added to your products and where to enhance the customer experience.
For example, Dropbox found that many people are using Dropbox to save their photos in cloud so it will be safe and can be accessed anywhere. So Dropbox built a android feature where user photos are automatically uploaded to Dropbox whenever they take a snap. This feature was appreciated by the customers.
So you should know their user behavior and their environment to enhance their experience.
After launching the product you have to find out how to reach out larger audience in short period of time.
Every product will have a unique way of going viral to the potential customers. As an entrepreneur you have to find that way of going viral.
For example, Uber introduced referral program to let users to share the app to their friends. So every time a user refers his/her friend s/he can get a offer. So its a win-win policy for the user and for uber.
Another way of getting viral is developing a fun side project that can actually solve a very niche problem of the customer and also provide value to the main product.
For example, I saw a tutoring website that teaches people how to code. Recently, they built a side project which allows users to choose the language they can learn in the current year. The side project has solved a very niche problem some times people have when they think to learn a new programming language. By solving this problem the side project added more value to the main product and drove many people who have decided what language to learn.
Starting a startup is just the beginning. There are many phases of the startup that I have not studied yet or experienced yet. This is my first article I like to post on medium. :) :)