Many people at one time or another will say they have had an idea for a business. What is involved in going from an idea to something real though is taking something from being a fleeting idea to something real. Here is the basic process that can make your idea a reality.
Look around you, at the marketplace. Look at others who may be offering similar products or services, or even ideas that have components of things that you want to offer. Understand the differences between the solution you are offering to be sure you are bringing added value.
Invite people to challenge you
Talk to others about your idea. Talk to friends and family. Seek out entrepreneurs or others in business. In talking to people and inviting them to challenge you, to ask questions, you are building your first community. This is not only a good way to test whether your idea makes sense, but is also good practice for you to defend your concept so that if and when you do move forward, you have experience that will translate to speaking with investors or potential customers.
Remember the technology
Brainstorm with experts in any and every kind of technology to look for innovative ideas that will add to and help develop your product. Keep in mind that every initial idea will need improvement and often this will come from the technology you add.
Build a roadmap
Success as a startup requires planning and defining each stage in your growth and process so that you have a way forward. Set your initial long-term vision down, understanding that it is written on paper and not carved in stone. Make a plan but be open to that plan changing as you learn more, as new ideas are brought forward, and as new technologies evolve.
Understand the prototype stages
In developing a prototype, you want to start with something simple and inexpensive but that can still demonstrate value to the client. From there, you will move to the following.
Fake it until you make it
This involves using a simple landing page, simple forms and simple tools to build something that is a skeleton of what you eventually want to develop, but in the simplest form possible. This will allow you to test your concept and to see what else might be needed to truly move forward with your vision.
Move to a dirty version
Next you will move to a dirty version of your product, or a version that is built on other services or open-source solutions. Again, simple Web solutions can offer basic plugins and site options that will allow you to expand enough to test additional concepts, giving your first proof of something real and the opportunity to have real control over your site.
The challenge with this version of a prototype is that it is temporary and, at some point when you are ready to scale, when you have hit a certain milestone or are encountering bottlenecks you cannot eliminate, you will need to move to something new.
Hire the right people
At this point, you will likely need to hire someone. This may be a freelance person, a Web agency, or perhaps you will simply hire someone to take on the expanding role. I’ll discuss these options more in my next blog post.
Whichever you do decide on, you will need to be sure you have clear control of your development, that you know where your source code is and have access to it, and that you are able to audit it and obtain third-party feedback to ensure you are on track in meeting your goal.
It is important to understand that we all behave based on our knowledge and experience, so the more input you have, the better your understanding of a bigger marketplace will be.
Have ideas, take them one at a time through this process to determine which are worth moving forward, and watch your ideas take shape.
If you want a more detailed step-by-step process on how you can turn idea into a sustainable startup, check out the course Startups’ Tech Challenges: From Zero to Million Users.