Startups fail, but they don’t have to. Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of survival.
There are over 100 links in this article to help entrepreneurs create solutions for every step of their business journey. The emphasis is on Irish startups, but the list will be relevant for most countries. This list was created with the help of David. S. Rose’s fantastic book The Startup Checklist. We have put ‘free’ beside the tools that have a freemium version.
How to start Lean
Customer surveys – should you do them?
I don’t personally like surveys as customer development is done best when having a conversation with someone, which can’t be achieved through a survey. Everyone is different, and it’s hard to get great insights through a questionnaire, or a focus group for that matter. It can be hard to get real individual ideas from a group; someone may be led by another’s comment for example.
On the other hand, if you have had a lot of one-on-one meetings with potential customers and you feel you’ve nailed the problem, then surveys are an excellent way to contact the mass market and perhaps check the elasticity of your pricing.
Building a minimum viable product
Building an MVP (minimum viable product) to test your solution is critical. Eric Reis says “the minimum viable product is that version of a new product a team uses to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”. He’s right.
Essentially what is the least you have to produce to satisfy paying customers? Over time, through vast amounts of customer feedback, you will then be able to build on this until you have the finished product or service, without needing significant investment as you already have the customers. These sites below will help you get started.
The short road to a great business plan
Now is the time to build a slide deck, prepare a plan and get funded. And how do you do that, you may ask?
Simple. Just use Liveplan (subscription).
I use this in my classes, and it never ceases to amaze me. Incredible software that will not only walk you through creating an excellent business plan, but will also help you draft your pitch and, most importantly, give you an easy platform to manage your finances.
You don’t need to waste your time figuring out if your balance sheet balances, as the system does everything for you, allowing you to just tap in the numbers and then see if your business is viable.
‘I have no real competitors’
Whether I’m a judge in a business plan competition or an attendee at an Irish startup presentation, I hear the same statement, all the time. ‘My competitors are doing it all wrong; they are clueless.’ Funny how they are producing revenues of €500,000+ then, isn’t it?
Competitor-bashing has got to stop. Appreciate and respect your competitors, and you’ll be more capable of outdoing them. So, if you have found ‘product/market fit’ (sold your product or service to a significant number of customers), you can start looking further into your competitors and look towards scaling your business. Below are more online tools that may be of use to you further down the line.
Competitor analysis tools
eDatasource (email marketing campaigns)
Social Media Management tools
Adverts and design tools
Handling card payments
Project management tools
And finally – saving the best ’til last
The final two links I want to share with you are probably the most important links you’ll ever click on if you are in the Irish startup scene or are looking to pursue a startup journey.
The first is a website I found late in my research, but I’d advise you to look into it when you get the chance as it seems to be the real deal. It’s called StartupStash: ‘A curated directory of resources and tools to help you build your startup’’.
And lastly, this is a link to an Excel spreadsheet from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, which has a list of every startup accelerator, incubator, hub and enterprise centre, along with a list of SME supports available. The document contains both State and non-State supports for entrepreneurs. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all supports. Instead, it is a living document that will allow amendments and additions.
Now, get up, be positive, forget the naysayers and build your business.
Article by Rohan Perera.