You Don’t Need a Finished Product to Launch Your Startup
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some of the biggest misconceptions about startup life?” is written by Rich Allen, author of The Ultimate Business Tune Up and former vice president of human resources at Texas Instruments.
Starting a new business is often the most exciting, energizing, and frustrating thing an entrepreneur can do. But if you were to get advice from 10 advisors on what needs to happen, you would get 10 uniquely different responses. So how does someone know where to begin?
While the starting place for each entrepreneur will be different, there are a few common misconceptions about how and where to begin the journey to building a new business:
You can’t start without a following
Small business owners often complain to me, “I don’t have a following yet.” To which I normally reply, “That’s right—so let’s go build one!”
The most critical component of launching a new business is to establish your authority on the industry, technology, or science of your new venture. The easiest way to do that is to begin writing to those who know you, sharing free advice about your subject matter.
At some point you can launch a blog site that can track users’ contact information. Simply start sharing what you know on your area of expertise, engaging with those who are interested, and asking them to share with others who might find your information valuable, and before you know it, you’ve got a small tribe of prospective customers or clients for your new business.
Now you can engage these folks in the design of your product or service offering and your pricing strategy—and they will feel invested in you and your business.
You need a finished product before launch
If you want to guarantee the failure of your new business, just wait until you have your product or service offering “perfect” before you go to market. Here’s the big question: In whose eyes is your new offering “perfect”? In many cases, it is in your own, not those of your target market or prospects.
It is always better to start your journey with a largely unfinished or unpolished product or service, and allow its early adopters to help you make improvements. This likely means that you will not have your pricing firmly set, your offering complete, or your services automated. That’s fine; now make room in your launch schedule for feedback, allowing those who know you well or like the concept to put their imprint on the final version.
Nothing is more frustrating than spending time designing the product or service that you know your customer “needs” when it turns out to be not what they “want.” You won’t be successful selling them what you think they need, but you will be successful if you let them tell you what they want, and you incorporate that into your finished offering.
You need a logo and website first
Many want-to-be business owners focus far too much on trying to design the perfect logo and building their initial website. The reality is that you don’t need either to get started.
Rather than spending time and money on creating an online identity, take those resources and put them into landing early business. What you need is the experience of delivering your product or service to those willing to pay for it, and getting their feedback on what they like, what they would change, how they would suggest you improve it, and how they think you should market it to others like them.
This first customer experience is invaluable to the direction, focus, and success of your newly formed business.
Start with these three thoughts in mind, and you’ll be on the path to startup success. Have fun, and enjoy the ride.