Monthly Archives: March 2011

Building an Online Startup in 3 Easy Steps

Topline: A business plan is internally useful to coordinate / project manage, but it should be a living (cloud) document, your wiki detailing product development and sales methodology.

ONE – Do you have a product?

If no, build an MVP.

If yes, get customers.

TWO – Do you have customers?

If no, get potential customers.

If yes, develop against their feedback.

THREE – Do you have potential customers?

If no, get at least 5.

If yes, develop against their feedback.

CUSTOMERS ARE YOUR GOAL, GET THEM AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, DO NOT “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME” (Yes, you have to build “something” it’s called an MVP, but it needs to be as limited as possible, what can you do with a powerpoint deck and some excel macros? Validate the pain point and your solution before you invest or scale).

YOU ARE THE RULE, NOT THE EXCEPTION — You will not raise $8MM against an unproven idea with no customers and no business model because you are not Evan Williams, Biz Stone, a Facebook founder, etc.

You (yes YOU, non-facebook founder) need:

  1. PRODUCT-MARKET FIT – aka a Solution someone will actually pay for
  2. CUSTOMERS – aka Sales aka Revenue
  3. SALES PROCESS – Not discussed above, a SCALABLE methodology (documented in as much detail as possible) for generating new sales

Obsess over these goals and nothing else, and you won’t need a business plan, because instead you’ll be building a business, and then you can raise money at much more attractive valuations (or just raise it, period), after you’ve proved out product-market fit and sales.

Bottom Line: There is NOTHING worth working on besides product-market fit.