How do I get my startup off the ground? I’ve been working on it for 10 years.

QUESTION:

I’ve been working on an e-commerce idea for almost ten years, and we finally started the web devolopment in India.  I have thought of every aspect, bought research reports, and conducted numerous surveys on the validity of this concept.  I have a clear vision of how it should work.  I understand what market segment we will service.  I know the market cap of this industry exceeds $20 billion annually.   My problem is the leg work.  How do I begin the actual implementation of this big, complex undertaking?  I am still trying to organize a million thoughts and possibilities.  There are so many directions I can go.  It’s a big challenge for me, and I need guidance on what to do first.   If you can help me with a step-by-step plan, that would be great.

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

Here’s what you need to do: prioritize.  You simply can’t do everything, and it sounds like you’re a bit overwhelmed with all the possibilities.   Don’t let this drag you down.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the big picture, which motivated you to start your company in the first place.

Here’s a simple 10-step plan that worked for my partner and me:

  1. Ask yourself what problem you’re going to solve?   Every great website solves a problem for its users.
  2. Ask yourself who will pay you for this?
  3. 10 years in planning for a startup is too long.  Markets change every 6 months.  You need to move fast.  For a Web 2.0 startup, 3 months of planning is more than enough.
  4. Simple sites work best… think of Twitter, Dropbox, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, etc…  All of them were very simple sites to begin with.   Don’t make it too complex.  Don’t try to add too many features.  Just solve a problem for your users as simply as possible.
  5. Once you have a very basic version of your site up and running, test it on real human beings.  All the planning in the world can’t replace actually having people use your site and give you feedback.
  6. Incorporate any good feedback into your site.  Iterate!
  7. Let your users drive your product.  Engage them, and they will tell you what they really need.
  8. Know your users!  Find out as much as you can about them, and measure everything on your site.
  9. Simplify.  Remove every unnecessary feature from your site.   Less is more in a Web 2.0 world.
  10. Now you’re ready to start fund raising.  Hopefully by this point, your site has some traction with users and revenue coming in.   If not, maybe you should think of another idea.

That’s our 10-step plan for launching a Web 2.0 startup.

I hope this helps!

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