Want a startup? Here’s how to start one!
This is Part I. (Overview) of the entrepreneurial starter series brought to you by Matt from the Team Cogito. Our team of nine has an aspiring mission to transform the e-learning business, with modern technologies and user experience.
HubHub’s vast ecosystem has helped us immensely, not only by providing the perfect infrastructure for our operations but by sharing knowledge, inspiration and the hidden powers of the community as well. Keep tuned, and enjoy!
People frequently think creativity is something we are born with, that we are destined to be imaginative, fun and even visionary. Without it, we are just dull and unstimulating. For just one second, throw this thought away.
Creativity isn’t a genetically programmed organ of yours, it is just a mindset. Let me prove it to you. The patterns of activities in our brain differ. A lot. Thoughts come and go without us even realizing it.
Most of the time in our daily routine we get rid of those that don’t fit anywhere, only to never come back thinking of them as disruptive, rebellious thoughts. Creativity is just the capability of your mind to dare play with ideas otherwise labeled stupid. Once you catch yourself to think of something that as stupid, stop right there, and keep that thread in your brain going. Let’s see where it leads you, the passion that drives that thread will be your instinct to create something that didn’t exist a minute ago.
You’ll see shortly, that the flood of ideas won’t stop coming. Be careful however, starting a business should never be out of pressure, just to do something, just to create a business. Startups don’t work that way. Startups are founded on firm problems, problems you feel in your everyday life, something you’ve been struggling with, something that made you think: this should be sorted out already. There you’ll find your idea, a valid one, that can be solved in some way.
Finding a team
The lone wolf conquering the continent is a marvelous thing to see, and also a non-existent one. No matter how smart you are, you simply won’t make it to the first corner if you decide to go out into the wild alone. If you still think you can, please read further about the Dunning-Kruger effect here. Our great mentor László Drajkó told me once: “Whenever you see fallen comrades who did the same thing as you’re trying to do, don’t let you fool yourself by trying to find out why those bad things won’t happen to you, but rather try to look for the threats that will put you in the same position!”
A team with the right people can help you mitigate those threats, as much as possible. Now you might say, but I don’t know anybody. Good, that’s the right place to start! Go work at a co-working office, for example, get to know people, dare to tell them about your idea, let people challenge you. Go to networking events, find people who support your idea, and find people who oppose it. Embrace criticism, because you must remember, you are not your business. If you take everything personally, you might grow into a wonderful snowflake, but a rather struggling business person. Criticism is good, especially if it comes from friends because it prevents you from doing something that you’d regret later.
Setting some plans
Once you have your team around, make sure everybody knows where to go from point zero, set your vision, your values and most importantly your goals. Where do you want to be in a month or even a year from now? Make sure everybody knows where your ship is going. After you’ve set everything, start small. Have the principles for your business and your product. How do you make money, who do you sell to, how do you sell it? What problem you’re solving, how do you solve it, how will you make it better than the already existing stuff? There is a common misconception about innovation and businesses, however. Startup gurus, coaches, experts -people who actually never did a single successful business- make a lot of people think that their idea is worth nothing if it doesn’t do something that didn’t exist before. I call b.s. Because 90% of successful people aren’t the pioneers, but the smart people stealing some ideas and polishing them with a tweak later. What is the difference between Lyft and Uber? Or Nike and Adidas? Nothing, zero, nada. They’re the same smart people trying to trick your brain into thinking one’s better than the other. That’s what they’re good at, and that’s what you should focus on too, so don’t listen to those who say your idea is crap, just because it doesn’t have blockchain or some other buzzword in it.
Prototyping and Validation
You have an idea, you have the people, you have the road. It’s time to build it. Except it isn’t. It’s time to make stuff that you’ll throw out later: Prototypes. Make small, easy-to-understand concepts in design, development, and business. One product, for one problem with a maximum of two ways of selling (one’s better at first). Let the people you’re trying to sell to, tell you whether your product or concept is good or not. If they say: “Hey I like it, I would use something like that if it wasn’t this ugly.” then you know it’s the design you’ll need to improve, not adding features to it. If they say: “It’s a hefty price to pay for this one functionality!”, you know it’s either not the right problem you’re targeting, or your product is bigger than you expected, or you’re just simply overpricing your stuff. So ask people what they think, and what they would think later. Ultimately the best reaction if someone actually gives you money for something you didn’t think was worth paying for. If nobody likes your product then good, you don’t have to start a business and waste money or more time on it.
You might think that by now you’ve wasted years, well you didn’t. If you actually have a good understanding of how to get to prototyping fast, it shouldn’t take more than a month. You can do that besides your actual 9-5 work (Or you can do it as this dude did in a week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTHg-tGvlJ8&t=6s). So don’t be afraid to throw ideas into the garbage. They’ll spare you a huge existential crisis later on. Remember: You aren’t your business. If you nurture a perspective that tells you that, business isn’t for you then. Because things will hurt, bad situations happen, and things will fall apart. It is only your capability to put things back together and keep going.