What’s stopping you? I mean, really, what’s stopping you? You’ve done the research, you’ve done the preliminary plans, listened to all the right podcasts, sat in all of the webinars, did all the right things…except you have nothing to show for it.
In every single aspect of life- education, careers, relationships, travel, etc. we are enhanced and honed by different first-hand experiences. These encounters are the only manner in which we can properly learn to operate within our own parameters. Notice, I said ‘our own parameters’. Through entrepreneurship content, we can learn a great deal about others’ proficiency in the field, through their eyes, and within their parameters, but the worst part is- it cannot apply to you. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is detrimental to your start, and here’s why, quick and simple:
- Comparison is the thief of joy- said a wise person, once upon a time.
- Some industries can be disrupted weekly, depending on which field you’re in.
- Lightning often doesn’t strike the same place twice.
- Pursuing action will pay off more so in the long run.
It’s been said by numerous resources, both unreliable and credible, that a startup will teach you more about business than an MBA will, and within a shorter period of time and I can attest to that. Running my first business was one of the most challenging, time consuming, and rewarding experiences I’ve had to date. And it taught me . . .
To avoid sounding too much like the influencers that we both probably listen to, I am going to provide some useful resources that can help you get off to a great start with a business concept that you’ve been dwelling on and, better still, you can start this today!
Canva. Canva is a powerhouse in the startup world. If you haven’t heard of it before, then you need to get familiar with it, and quickly. Image editing cloud-based software that is easier than decking out your myspace page can let you make logos, social media posts, and any nearly other marketing material you can think of. Use this to create some media around one, or better yet, a few of your best ideas.
Facebook Groups. Now that you have something to post, make a group describing your product (through it’s own page or otherwise) and use this as your market/A-B Testing. Then convert using…
Carrd Pro. Crazy powerful and crazy cheap. Build out a presale site for one, two, or twenty-five of your ideas. Tons of templates, with ecommerce plugins like Stripe and Gumroad, as well as services like ConvertKit & many others. Even the highest tier option costs less than a Netflix subscription.
EXTRA: Reddit– if you are looking to aim at a specific niche (and you should be) then a community likely exists on Reddit, and you can get invaluable feedback from them.
Google Trends will give you a good estimate for the industry you’re entering- don’t be discouraged if it comes out small- that’s your niche that you can carve out, if you execute well enough.
Now… that said, you are NOT finished yet.
You just bought yourself some time to develop your concept, but look at what you’ve been able to do in a matter of hours! (probably) Now, how do you do it? It’s MVP time!
As the wonderfully illustrated graphic featured above shows, we want to make a product that is both usable and fulfilling (always, always, always keep this in mind) to the customer at all stages of development, even if it is not directly comparable to the final version of the product you are creating. And, if working in early product development has taught me anything, you are going to have to iterate so quickly that it’ll nearly make your head spin.
The good news is- you will be able to get better and better feedback as you iterate. Version 1.0 will always be less good than 1.1, but that extra .1 could make every ounce of difference when it comes to launch. Now, let’s get more practical. How do you create your first minimally viable product (MVP)? And unless you’ve got something that you fully intend to patent (which you’d better start now), you shouldn’t be building in secret at all, so don’t say you can’t get feedback!
Want to build an app? Figma can be a great resource for you to come up with easy to understand frameworks that someone can reasonably walk through. It’s nearly as simple to create as a PowerPoint (if you’re not comfortable with that, you may want to reevaluate your journey into tech). Figma can give you another tool to see what customers will say about your product, what they dislike, and more importantly, what they like.
Need a bit more depth and functionality? Bubble.io and WebFlow can help you build something functional that lives on the internet. Drag-and-drop no code tools are kinda becoming the future of tech, and pretty quickly at that.
Lastly, you may not need a custom build solution. Sites like Shopify (and the aforementioned Carrd) have custom templates that you can use to launch your first version much quicker and easier than ever before possible.
Product-based businesses can get a bit tricky. There are a ton of great organizations that can help you build awesome products, and choosing the right one can be tricky. My advice- learn CAD with a program like Onshape and try your hand at it yourself. The files generated from something like this can be taken to many of these organizations and save you a ton of cash early on.
The important thing to take away here is that starting has never been as easy as it is right now…are you going to take that opportunity, or are you just going to keep dreaming?
Tyler Brandstetter is the FASTER WV Business Launch Specialist in partnership with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center and Advantage Valley. Previously, Mr. Brandstetter worked in product development at the Robert C. Byrd Institute, and has also co-owned a mobile food service business.