If you actually want to turn your idea into a startup, the first step is recognizing that our world is not in a shortage of good ideas. If thinking of a multimillion-dollar business idea were worth anything, then a thriving market would already exist for such ideas. Investors and users are not interested in ideas, they’re interested in operating businesses.
If you believe your idea can add value to the world, you need to actually create it.
Be a Developer
Just start. Your strategy doesn’t need to be mapped out and planned yet. It just needs to be created. The process is certainly better if you know how to code. Otherwise, you will need to rely on someone else to implement your ideas. Besides, if you don’t know how to code, how can you even determine if the developer creating your conceptions is qualified to do so?
Use tools like Jira to ensure that progress doesn’t get derailed. Keep in touch with your development team via Slack to guarantee fast responses.
Solve a Problem
I believe the best startups don’t revolve around an idea. They start at the problem. If you can solve a problem that is important to a few people, then a few people will love your business. Simple as that, right? If your idea doesn’t actually solve any problems, then why should people express any interest in it?
Stewart Butterfield is the founder of Slack. He also created Flickr. Stewart made both unintentionally. Primarily a video game developer, Stewart’s companies were trying to create the next big PC hit. While creating the first video game, he developed Flickr on the side as a way to share images with his team. While creating the second video game, he created Slack on the side as a way for his team to improve communication.
In both situations, he struck online oil because he directly solved the problems his own team was personally experiencing. If you can create something that succinctly solves your own problems, then you’re likely going to find other people who are also seeking a similar solution.
That’s how we created Jira Integration+. We wanted to improve our ability to communicate without interrupting our workflows. It was born out of our own frustration with context switching and the Jira emails that flooded our inbox. We centered our business around solving that problem.
Skin in the Game
Along the way, you’ll encounter a lot of people, books, classes, etc. that offer advice on how to run a business. Few to none of them have skin in the game. If an author was truly successful in business, why does he/she need the extra money from book sales? While it’s always important to keep an open ear, remember that your bills aren’t being paid by anybody’s two cents.
Start with a minimum viable product that addresses your specific problem. Only build/add features after learning more about your users.
It can be challenging to commit yourself to a business. But whatever you do, refuse to chase other ideas. Nothing is deadlier to a startup than distractions. These new ideas offer you a cop-out. They offer opportunities to abandon your current efforts. Don’t follow them.
Put yourself out there, too. The more public you can become with your company, the less you’re willing to let the project quietly die. Nobody wants to renege on their word, so you can create willpower and startup motivation just by talking publicly about your business. Something as small as telling your LinkedIn connections about your new endeavor can help with project commitment.
A startup is obviously not all sunshine and daisies. To quote Paul Graham of YCombinator, “bad shit is coming”. There will be events that make you believe your startup is doomed. Just put your head down and keep working through it. You’ll come out the other side every time.
Create a brand that resonates with your customers. Your brand is not just a spiffy-looking logo. It’s your positioning, your messaging, your brand’s personality, your blogs, your articles, your website, your user experience. It’s what makes our products and services unique. We can use this to explain how we solve our customer’s problems.
The content we use to portray our business shapes the way we interact with our customers. Branding shapes the way we write this content.
At the end of the day, if you create a technology company, you’re not a technology company – you’re a sales company. The same is true if you sell consulting services or cloud storage. None of it matters if you don’t create a sales engine.
As developers, that can sound foreboding and scary. But, don’t fret – sales is a learned skill. Your business depends on sales. Your sales depend on continual effort.
Learn to build, then learn to sell. If you can do both, you’re destined for success.
If you solve a problem, you’ll make customers happy. If you create a recognizable brand, you’ll retain customers. If you focus on sales, you’ll create something valuable. But before you can do any of that, you need to actually start building the idea sitting in your head.