I enjoy mixing with startup people; and I’ve been catching up with quite a few recently, a meeting here, a cup of coffee there, a presentation somewhere else. So it got me to thinking about the top 10 tips I’d pass on to anyone contemplating a startup…
1. PROBLEM: Focus on the problem you are solving – if your idea does not solve a large enough problem for a large amount of people (e.g. traffic congestion, boredom, finding a job, making friends…) you probably don’t have a business. Solving a problem creates value for those you are solving it for, and so they may even pay you something.
2. CUSTOMER: Find out who your customer is (they are the ones going to pay you to solve their problem). Build your whole business and systems around them. Talk to them, ask them things, listen. Never stop doing this.
3. REVENUE: There are only three revenue streams (most are variations on these three): subscriptions, advertising or selling – work out which of these (or a mix) you are going to deploy. In my humble opinion, subscription is nearly always the most sustainable model.
4. NETWORK: If you need others to join your team (and even if you don’t) head on down to the various startup events going on around Perth at the moment – the best of these is probably Perth Morning Startup held at Spacecubed (770+ members and counting) every second Wednesday. Also good are eGroup held monthly on a Tuesday evening and Silicon Beach (490+ members and counting). Find these and many more by searching on meetup.com.
5. TECHNOLOGY: much of the technology platforms these days are free, or very cost effective; open source software is available, much of which can be developed by some home grown or offshore talent. A basic rule of thumb – it is never the technology, it is always the people. Get the best people, and they’ll find a way.
6. FUNDING: if you need funds to get your business going, network your way to the money. If you are serious, you need to be holding many meetings daily, and if you do this you will find the people in Perth you need to talk to. Try to “get the no” – don’t be led on by those who are just going to say no but have a hard time saying it. Ask the ‘noers’ for 2-3 other referrals. Those that can’t say no, are interested. Land them (if you want to). In the end, it’s not about the money, it’s about the connections your backers can bring, and doors they can open.
7. GET JUST OUT THERE: If you don’t need much money yet, or can bootstrap it for now then soft launch with a minimum viable product (MVP); this will allow you to obtain the best feedback possible (from early customers) and give you credibility and perspective when and if you raise funds later.
8. EXECUTION: your best protection is to execute on your plan well; many people talk a lot, but few go out and do it well. Don’t hide from reality, and encourage your team to bring you the negatives, but equally, be firm, trust your instinct and go for it.
9. PIVOT: if things are not going well, you may need to change direction fast. Your early results will tell you how things are going, but it will take judgement to gauge whether things just need a bit of a push, or whether things will never turn out the way you want and a pivot is required.
10. ENJOY: overall, it should be an enjoyable journey. No doubt there will be sleepless nights, but your network will also help you get through the tougher times. In the end, if you don’t enjoy it, why do it? Your belief, passion and sense of fun will get you through.