I've always thought that life is an adventure and we need to swim through it as such. Some time ago, realizing life was too short, and I was not taking full advantage of my time, I decided to quit a corporate job and start to live the life I'd always wanted, which can be summarized with the word "freedom". Freedom to work in the country I decided to live in - I moved from rainy Belgium to Sydney for that reason; freedom to explore different career opportunities in different areas; and freedom to play sports - in my case, mainly tennis - on a regular basis.
Since I've always been very entrepreneur-minded and I've always liked the process of building new things, I found startups very appealing. I decided that I was going to build startups as a career. But, what I didn't know was that building startups is incredibly tricky. From finding the right idea to working on delivering the project, there are many struggles one have to go through. Rejections, financial insecurity, setbacks, to name but a few.
Driven by my willingness to keep fighting until I succeed - my tennis training and career greatly helped me here - I kept learning and pushing my projects forward one step at a time. In the following months, I decided to run an experiment - to launch a startup every month applying all the skills I've learned. I've listed below a series of steps I usually take when starting a new product:
- Find an issue to solve. Possibly in a trending sector.
Please bear in mind that I said "issue" instead of "idea"; you can read in this other post what I mean by this.
- Launch the solution to that issue as fast as possible.
You can even claim that you have a solution to that issue - before actually building it - to see if people want to use it. For instance, put up a nicely done landing page, add a fake "buy" button and see how many people click on it.
- Let the relevant audience know about your solution.
For instance, you can post your product on ProductHunt, HackerNews, specific Reddit subdirectories, targeted blogs, relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups, etc.
- Let the press know what you're building.
Contact some relevant journalists and tell them what you are doing. If you contact them via email, don't write more than three lines plus maybe a screenshot of what you are doing.
- DON'T use dodgy techniques, please.
I'm thinking of mass emailing outreach, etc. This doesn't work. You need to engage with your target audience and generate organic growth instead.
- Add as many communication channels as possible.
Find all the ways you can communicate and interact with your target audience. For instance, add a live chat on the website so that you can engage with your audience. This way, they'll help you build the product.
- Share good - and bad - news with your audience.
This lets you re-engage with your target audience and gives you a way to get free feedback.
- Always focus on revenues (if bootstrapped).
If your target audience is not willing to pay for what you do, just don't do it. Remember, bills have to be paid.
There you go. Following these steps, I'll build a startup every month until one really takes off. Rest assured, I'll share the evolution of my experiment with you in the following posts. And, as usual, I'd be glad to have your comments and feedback.