Surely at some point you have come across someone who has seen a unique market opportunity, who has a brilliant and revolutionary idea, who tells you with passion and even tries to convince you to embark on a new adventure. There is nothing wrong with that motivation, and I admire that ability to find opportunities that others haven’t seen, but it is important to remember that undertaking and launching a startup is not just an idea, it is a business.
Each of us has their own personal and professional experience, their own point of view and specialization. And that adds an extra problem: it can make us not see beyond what we have always dealing with. In general, a software developer will tend to focus on creating a quality product while a financial analyst will focus on profitability. But is that enough? Let ‘s see.
A powerful idea
Let’s suppose we have been working in the business environment for several years now, and suddenly that brilliant and revolutionary idea comes to our mind. We analyze it, perform a market study, a first forecast … it seems to be a powerful idea! We embark on the world of entrepreneurship and create our new startup.
Even from our ignorance in certain areas, we find a small team and get down to work. This time we go a little beyond the first analysis and study our potential users and their needs. We gather all the information and build and launch our first MVP. Congratulations, we have a product on the market!
Until now we have basically been able to build and deliver a product. Something that our customers will potentially want to buy. We are going to call this the value stream. In other words, the process of understanding the needs of our clients and covering them by delivering the best product.
Hey, look at me!
But the work doesn’t end here. Having a product that nobody knows means nothing. Now what we need is to make ourselves known. Let our potential clients know we are here.
This is why we will have to understand and empathize with our clients. Create an identity and a brand which they feel identified with. Find a tone and vocabulary that fit their personality. Determine the best channels to communicate with them.
In summary, we need a marketing and communication strategy which ensures that our product reaches our customers.
You need it, buy it!
Now that our customers know we exist, we need them to buy our product. We must find the best way to sell what we offer. We are talking about options ranging from a more digital strategy to face-to-face selling itself. Without sale, there is no income.
Numbers and more numbers
We are already on the way. People want our product and are buying it. But, is everything going well? We need numbers. We have to understand if this makes sense, if it really is profitable.
And I am speaking in this case even going beyond accounting, recording our incomes and expenses, or meeting our tax obligations. We must have foresight. We will have to carry out financial analysis that allow us to take a look at our economic future. Let them shed a little light on how things will go and give us the capacity to react before problems explode in our hands.
No without help
And we are not done yet. Everything we have seen so far, from product creation to product sale, requires certain crucial support aspects. We have to make sure we meet our legal obligations, so we will seek legal advice. Someone has to create the product and make it known, so we will need to interview and hire staff. We will also have to get a site and material to work with, so we will acquire infrastructure and tools. We may even have to help our staff to improve their skills by providing training so that they can do their job better or help in other areas.
We row into the same direction
But all this that we have seen is useless if there is no common direction. If we don’t get everyone to put their efforts into rowing in the same direction.
And here it is not just about defining and developing a profitable business model and a strategy to carry it out. We must be able to create a unified vision, a culture and a common work framework. We will have to maintain objectives for the organization (independently of how small it is) and manage to align all parties with them. We will need to look into the future for possible risks and ways to deal with them as soon as possible. We will establish ways to visualize and understand how the whole system is working.
And so the gear works
And now yes, the perspective changes. Despite the simplicity of the example, it helps us to see that it’s not just about having an idea. Carrying it out and building a successful business requires a series of interrelated areas and processes that make everything more complex. And it is not enough to pay attention to one of these pieces. The entire gear must run as smoothly as possible.
My intention is not to scare anyone. Nor to eliminate that initial passion about an idea. Quite the opposite. I keep encouraging you to pursue your ideas. To continue experimenting and innovating. To continue revolutionizing the world. What I want is to make you aware of the needs of a business to avoid unexpected surprises and thus contribute to create more solid startups.
A real experience
Last, I wanted to share with you a real case: ours. The three partners that embarked on the Kypseli project have profiles of digital product design and software development. We might think, “That’s enough, you can offer the services that the client is going to buy”. It is true that we have the product, what we sell, but as we have spoken before, it is not enough. We have to reach our clients optimally, get to offer them a service that perfectly covers what they are looking for, understand the numbers and how our business is working, establish new relationships and alliances with our collaborators … And I think this was one of our greatest learnings: we paid too much attention to what was nearby (the value stream) and we didn’t give the importance it deserves to everything else, as if it worked almost by inertia.
Luckily, and thanks to the support of our friends from Duality, we are working to build a much more solid model. I can say without any doubt that the changes introduced in the last few months have given us an invaluable turnaround. When your problems get tight, or things don’t work as you expect, it’s best to stay calm and sit and think. It is then when it is crucial to lay a solid foundation and define the best course to follow as well as the way to achieve our objectives.
I hope that this post has served you for reflection and, as always, I will be delighted to hear your opinions and that you share your experiences with others!