With all of the workshops we run around branding, marketing and business design, we often get asked by eager entrepreneurial students (and occasionally teachers) about the first steps they should take to get their idea off the ground. Now opinions will vary from person to person, but based on our experiences bootstrapping our business and helping countless others start their businesses, this is what we’ve found works well. This is by no means the only way to do it, but here are some tips to consider:
First off, you need to figure out your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is the most basic thing that you can sell to start making some money. When you’re starting a business for the first time, it’s important to start getting money coming in the door early, this will help you fund further advancements and no matter what you are doing, it will be teaching you important skills that will come in handy when you start looking at the full product.
Some of my favourite examples for this are selling things at local markets, investigating ecommerce or buying things on eBay and selling them here in Australia.
Investment Isn’t Always The Option
Now you may have read the previous point and thought “well I don’t need to worry about making money at the start - I’ll just go out and raise investment!” If only it was that easy. Often it takes a startup 12-18 months to raise investment, and even then you’re investors are looking at any past experience you’ve had to show that you’ll be able to put their money to good use. My advice is to trying and be sustainable and generate profit as soon as possible, then you can start either investing your own profit into your additional ventures, or you can take that traction to investors.
Find Your Target Customer
Before you even start designing the product or service you need to figure out who is actually going to buy it. Now this isn’t just a vague idea of who it is, it needs to be an in-depth view of their world. We call this developing a customer persona. For this you want to design a personality for you target customer - give them a name, age, occupation and living situation. Then dive a little deeper, start looking at what their pain points are, how much money do they have to spend and also where do they spend their time (and where can you advertise to them?
Start Talking To Your Customer
Get out and start doing some market research. Now I’m not talking sending surveys out to your Facebook friends, I’m talking about getting out there and having a coffee with your target customer. Talk to them face to face and find out what they are really looking for in your product. What do they want it to look like, how do they want it to work, and how much do they pay for it. It is essential that you get to know your target customers and you can put faces to the name. Don’t just talk to them once either - keep checking in with them and asking their opinions on different things.
Finally it’s up to you to get something out there. Start raising awareness, building your network and getting your product or service out there asap. Remember, done is better than perfect and you should always to tweaking your product to continuously make it better.
Now that’s a wrap for our top tips for starting a business, but if you have any more questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and we’re always happy to help!