So you’ve got an idea, now what?
There are a million things to do, ways to go and stuff to figure out. And that can be overwhelming and scary, which prevents a lot of would-be entrepreneurs from doing anything at all.
That’s why our Managing Partner James Lochrie, who co-founded the global fintech company Wave, suggests starting with just one step forward.
"Take the first step. It could be the wrong way, it could be the right way, or somewhere in between. You can always step back and change directions. The key is to get started. " ---James Lochrie
“Take the first step. It could be the wrong way, it could be the right way, or somewhere in between. You can always step back and change directions. The key is to get started," says James. "Businesses disappear into thin air before they even begin because of inaction. What you do first isn't important, doing something is the most important thing.”
Our Funding Catalyst Lead Andrew Browne, also an entrepreneur, agrees.
“Just start working on it. You take one step, then you take another. And the first step is the hardest step.”
And that first step should be talking to your first customer.
“Go talk to who you think your first customer is going to be and understand their pain.” --- Andrew Browne
“If you’ve got a good idea that you think would be a good idea for a business, go talk to who you think you’re going to sell it to,” explains Andrew. “Go talk to who you think your first customer is going to be and understand their pain.”
Approach this customer research as a project that you can explore in sprints.
“Don’t quit your job, incorporate your company, create a logo and a website," says Andrew. “Just start with your customer. The rest will naturally come if there’s enough momentum to solve that problem.”
By talking to your customer, you’re getting essential customer validation.
“If they tell you, this product or service would save them so much time, this much money, or they wouldn’t have to staff up to solve this problem, that’s validation,” explains Andrew. “If you solve this problem for this one person, are they willing to pay for it? So you test your idea with one person, then 10, then 100. That’s validation.”
Then you’ll use this customer validation and feedback, explains James, to
improve your product or service.
"Founders need to have the curiosity and humility to imagine they are wrong or the idea can be improved." ---James Lochrie
“Founders need to do market research and validate the idea as much as possible but they also need to adjust the idea with the new information. The original idea could be wrong or off a bit and needs to be adjusted or the idea could be really good but needs refinement to become great. It’s about not being locked into a specific mindset or path forward, founders need to have the curiosity and humility to imagine they are wrong or the idea can be improved. When they do that it sets up the entire business to think the same way.“
It’s a methodical approach to building a business, without getting overwhelmed.
"Start small, and test often. It's never too early to talk to your customers." ---Dr. Katie Greene
“Start small, and test often,” says Dr. Katie Greene, from our Funding Catalyst team. “It’s never too early to talk to your customers.” And because Katie specializes in helping early stage health companies find the right funding source, she suggests “engaging with regulatory bodies like the FDA or Health Canada early to ensure you have the smoothest road to regulatory approval possible.”
And if you’re wondering about investing in your idea at this stage? Baby steps, says James.
“Validate your idea, market, product or service as much as possible before investing in building the company,” warns James. “Investing in building your company before you have removed some of the assumptions can be a very inefficient way to build a winning company.”
And that’s the goal… to build that winning company that will create massive human impact. The goal is to #BuildWhatsNext.
Want to learn more about Starting your Startup? Watch for a long form video featuring Andrew, James and Katie that will be out next week.
Still ahead in the Zero to Seed series: Building Your Team - How to Think About Co-founders and Early Hires.