You’ve got an idea for a startup, now what? Seven actions that will create momentum

#1 Clarify and refine your idea

Write down all your ideas and all your thoughts relating to your project. Start an idea notebook and always keep it with you. It is very easy to forget a thought. Don’t waste any of them. Write them down and review them later.

#2 Explore alternatives

Try to brainstorm alternative markets, alternative solutions, alternative products, and even alternative ideas. Can you reframe or reformulate the problem? It is easy now for you to consider and evaluate different options. Don’t commit to anything yet. Just observe all the alternatives that are available for you to choose from.

If you freeze an idea too quickly, you fall in love with it. If you refine it too quickly, you become attached to it and it becomes very hard to keep exploring, to keep looking for better. The crudeness of the early models in particular is very deliberate.
— Jim Glymph of Gehry Partners

#3 Build prototypes

Build many rough, low-resolution prototypes. Your goal is to explore options and get fast feedback. In order to build and test them quickly, you could make them very simply by using materials like pen, paper, and glue. Show them to people to get comments. Low-resolution prototypes will make people much more open to give you complete feedback. If they see something that looks like a finished product, they will assume that you have invested a lot in it, and they might be shy to tell you what the problems are. Do it fast. Iterate often.

#4 Write your elevator speech and pitch it

The goal of an elevator speech is to quickly and clearly explain your idea in less than one or two minutes. After you have rehearsed it, start pitching as much as it makes sense and gather feedback to improve on your idea and your speech. As the start you could read this article: The Art of the Elevator Pitch: 10 Great Tips. Your first versions will be bad, but it’s ok. You have to go through that before creating something better.

#5 Learn more about business and marketing

Just having some basic knowledge about business and marketing can get you a long way. I enjoyed reading The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman, which covers a lot of ground. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover, just pick the elements you want to learn. If this book doesn’t inspire you, choose another one.

#6 Write down a draft Business Model Canvas

Many questions must be answered to describe the business you want to create. The Business Model Canvas is a one-page tool that allows you to document your hypothesis on the main facets of your business. It will be easier to review and improve your answers once you have committed them to paper. Explore alternatives here too.

You can download the canvas for free here in pdf or use The Startup Toolkit for an online version. For more information about how to use it on Steve Blank’s blog:

There is a book that goes with the Business Model Canvas. You don’t have to buy it, but it might be quite useful: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.

#7 Clarify your goal as an entrepreneur

It is important that the kind of business you are building correspond to your aspirations. I wrote “Your aspirations: 12 questions to ask yourself (and your co-founders) before you start building your start-up” in order to help you with that.

Now what?

If you’re in doubt, or you don’t feel you are ready to move forward with any of the actions above, use my new favorite mantra:

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly at first. — Chesterton

Whatever you do, you should confront your idea with reality sooner rather than later. There is no way to know which ideas can be successful or not without some experimentation in the real world.

Exercise
– Decide now which actions you will start with and commit to them by setting aside time in you calendar in the coming days.
– If you are stuck and don’t know what to do, contact me: sgignoux@gmail.com

 

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