As an entrepreneur and a startup founder, I know that the road to creating a successful business is challenging but also a rewarding experience. In the years that I have been an entrepreneur, I’ve tried different strategies and developed the ability to pivot when necessary. That’s why flexibility is key.
In this blog post, I'll share my experience and steps to start a business, from conception to validation in the market. According to my experience, this is the roadmap I’d recommend to any entrepreneur with an innovative idea in mind.
To turn your idea into a profitable business, you need to validate it first. This means testing the market to ensure that there is demand for your product or service.
Validating your business can help you save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring that you meet market demand. Following a thorough validation process can increase your chances of success and turn your idea into a thriving business.
A couple of years ago, we started to develop a clear idea of something we identified as a market need. PlanIT was born to help companies organize their corporate events and gifts in a centralized platform, supporting local entrepreneurs that joined PlanIT as providers.
In my experience founding PlanIT, I was able to experience firsthand different paths in the process of creating a business from scratch, and I had the opportunity to face different challenges and learn a lot from them: from fulfilling users’ demands, to building and leading a team creating a profitable business. Of course, there are no magic recipes, but these are the 5 steps I’d add to my checklist if I were starting all over again.
Every startup begins with an idea. In our case, we had a clear vision of how to solve a specific market problem: helping companies organize and centralize all of their corporate actions. However, most startup ideas are not unique, and companies already offer similar solutions. What differentiates a successful idea from a failed one is the ability to execute it properly.
To achieve this, you need to have a strong understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and how your solution is better than what already exists in the market. It has to involve a creative way of solving users’ needs. This requires conducting market research, studying the competition, and understanding your potential customers, to then define your unique value proposition.
Regarding PlanIT, we had the clear objective of providing companies with an integral solution. After deeply understanding our target audience's needs and investigating our competitors, we decided our differential would be bringing a complete solution for companies looking for different providers and options.
It’s time to get down to work and develop your business plan. Creating a business plan involves outlining your product or service, defining your target market, identifying your competition, and establishing a marketing strategy.
Building a team is crucial as you will need talented and passionate individuals to help you execute your idea. Securing funding can be challenging, but many options, such as crowdfunding, angel investors, or venture capitalists, are available.
Execution is critical in any startup. As I’ve mentioned, you can have the best idea in the world, but if you don't execute it properly, you won't succeed. To execute an idea well, you need a solid team, careful planning, and a constant focus on results. Additionally, it's important to be willing to pivot when necessary. Let’s dive deeper into each point.
As you execute your action plan, having a team that shares your passion and vision is crucial. This team should be made up of people who are committed to the business's success and are willing to work hard to achieve it. Look for individuals with complementary skills and diverse perspectives who can bring valuable ideas to the table. Make sure to communicate your vision clearly and regularly to keep everyone on the same page and motivated.
Careful planning is essential when executing an idea. This involves breaking down the overall goal into smaller achievable steps and setting realistic timelines. Make sure each team member has a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities in achieving these goals. Regularly assess your progress and adjust your plan accordingly. Don't be afraid to course-correct if things aren't going as planned.
Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) is critical in measuring the success of your execution. KPIs can help you track progress toward your goals, identify areas of improvement, and make data-driven decisions. Identify the metrics that matter most for your business and regularly monitor them.
Ensure that your team understands the KPIs and their impact on the business's success. A constant focus on results means regularly measuring your progress and adjusting accordingly.
As you execute your action plan, you may encounter unexpected challenges or changes in the market. It's essential to be willing to pivot when necessary. This means being flexible and willing to adjust your plan, products, or services based on new information or feedback. Regularly seek input from customers, stakeholders, and team members to identify opportunities for improvement. Pivot quickly and efficiently to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.
Once you've researched the market and have a solid execution plan, defining a minimum viable product (MVP) to test your idea in the market is essential. The MVP should be simple enough to develop quickly and complete enough to test the functionality of your idea. Through MVP testing, you can validate whether the idea is viable in the market and adjust accordingly.
It's critical to remember that your MVP doesn't have to be perfect. Many startups fail because they try to create a perfect product before launching it. Instead, it's better to launch the product before it's perfect and improve as you get user feedback.
Also, take into account that MVPs usually don’t even need software development. In our case, we implemented a Shopify site before we developed our own platform. This enabled us to test our business idea with real customers and provide a rapid solution to our clients. Meanwhile, we took advantage of the feedback received to enhance our product before launching.
Now it’s time to launch your MVP. It's important to remember that the goal of a startup is to solve a problem and create value for your customers. This requires taking risks and being willing to launch your MVP before it's completely polished. Waiting until every detail is perfect can lead to missed opportunities. The main objective of testing your idea is to receive user feedback as soon as possible and be able to enhance your product or pivot if necessary.
After launching your minimum viable product (MVP) and testing your idea with users, it's time to evaluate and iterate. Analyze the feedback you've received from your users and identify areas for improvement. This could be anything from refining your product or service, adjusting your pricing strategy, or improving your marketing efforts. Use this feedback to create a roadmap for future iterations and improvements.
Remember to prioritize the changes that will have the greatest impact on your business. Regularly test and evaluate new ideas and features to continue to meet the needs of your users and stay ahead of the competition. By continuously iterating and improving, you can create a successful and sustainable business.
In conclusion, creating a startup is a never-ending journey that requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. There will be obstacles and failures along the way. But with the right mindset and approach, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. However, it's important to keep moving forward and learn from your mistakes. A successful entrepreneur knows every failure is an opportunity to improve and strengthen.
But this is just the beginning! There is a long way to go after launching and validating your MVP. Stay tuned for my next blog post on how to launch your startup!