Looking forward to the New Year ahead is a time where we typically make various resolutions in all aspects of our lives. It’s also a great opportunity to take stock of where you are and come up with grand vision of everything you want to do. If you are thinking of starting a business then you need to make sure that your idea is viable before leaping in with both feet.
It may seem obvious but you need to validate your ideas before you put any money, time or effort on them. You can start by asking yourself these two simple questions before taking the plunge and make sure you answer them honestly:
- Do you have the skills to make the product / offer the service and the motivation to get out of bed each day to do it?
- Does somebody want to buy what you are selling?
If you can answer “yes” to both of these questions then it’s worth moving on and spending some time to do more market research and develop a business strategy. Being honest about your level of motivation is critical as it can take a lot of time and effort to get a business off the ground.
If you are a bit scared to plunge in and need others to evaluate the product or service you are planning to build, a Design Sprint might be the right fit. You’ll reduce uncertainty and build a clear roadmap through design, prototypes and testing. While doing this, you’ll be able to align your team under a shared vision with clearly defined goals and deliverables.
The Design Sprint is essentially a 4-day validation process used by Silicon Valley startups to get to know where to go next. On day 1, you’ll define the challenges and plan out the week. On day 2, you’ll decide what challenges to prototype. On day 3, you’ll build a high fidelity prototype. On day 4, you’ll test it with real users. You’ll have a tangible representation of your product strategy in your hands and real user insights to guide your next steps and move forwards confidently.
You can get to know more about Design Sprint here.
Once you validate your ideas, set goals and have a much more concrete idea of what starting a company will be like, decisions will be a lot easier.
If you haven’t done so already this the perfect time to set yourself goals and deadlines for your business. Otherwise, how do you measure whether you’re heading in the right direction or not? They might be product-related, financial, marketing or brand objectives but you need to know where you are heading to.
One good way of setting objectives is using the S.M.A.R.T formula: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed. Try not to generalize. Put a figure beside each target to know how you are going to measure your success or failure. Make sure your goals are realistic to you and to the market conditions and do not work with open-ended goals, you need a completion date.
Once you have your goals set and know how to measure them and when to complete them, you need to know if you’ll need help in the short term. Can you do everything on your own? Are you going to hire somebody? Are freelancers the right way to go for your company? How do you see your company in a year? How do you see your company in 5 years?
There are tons of apps and platform that might help you find the right team, agency or partner. But you need to establish priorities and list the skills you need as soon as possible.
It’s far too common today to think that innovation only happens when there’s shiny tech or gear. Well that’s not the case. If you are planning to build your own company don’t be scared if you are not going to create Internet of Things products o artificial intelligence powered whatever. You need to focus on the problem you are going to solve. Innovation happens when you actually give the audience solutions. It’s not about hackathons or labs but about really finding purpose on what you are doing and validating your ideas with real users. This is something investors value. They are already used to seeing techie products, now they want problems solved and engaged audiences.
What many people *still* don’t understand is that branding is not elective to business but fundamental. It wasn’t always this way. Fifty years ago, unless you were a major consumer company that advertised on TV you could get by without a brand. Today even small local coffeeshops are working on their brand not because they are cool or edgy but because they need to stand out and establish a brand personality and message if they want to succeed.
A good brand strategy can save companies money by preventing mistakes or overcoming crises. Many marketing departments rush into projects without understanding the real purpose, without knowing what’s the brand relation with this marketing actions and without stopping to think about the brand’s message.
A strong brand lets you make informed decisions faster and easier but to achieve a strong brand you need to work on it continuously and since the beginning of the project. Branding is not about updating a brochure just because it’s old but asking why you need to do that and if that's the best way to spend your resources. You need to have a deep understanding of the brand in order to answer those questions.
Development is not dead. Don’t worry about that. But there are new solutions today that work just like code does and that you might want to consider. These solutions are super efficient and let you move fast without losing not a single bit of quality on the product or service you are going to offer.
No code solutions are the right way to go specially during an economic crisis. They are 100% scalable (you won’t need to re-do your product once your users increase) and help you optimize your budget and time. Plus, when designing products with no-code tools there’s a higher chance your marketing team will be able to manage your content strategy and SEO way more freely than when working together with a developer or a team of developers.
There are hundreds of no-code tools available and they are still little known. If you speak Spanish you might want to check out our podcast episode where we talk about our favorite tools.
Hopefully, you can see the value of this lean startup-design sprint-design thinking-new tech approach. All in all, what's behind of this article is that you need to validate your ideas and optimize budgets. Don't get carried away with Facebook Ads or huge development costs. There are other alternatives out there and that's the secret sauce for being a successful business.