At times founders are too eager to jump to the development phase and have their idea as a reality. Although, it may not be the best practice.
Development involves times, effort, commitment and money. 4 of the most crucial things for any startup's initial days. More so because in 80% of such cased founders are unaware of the dynamics of the real time challenges and hence are back within 6 months of being operational with new requirement or change in flow, which costs them another handsome amount and loss of time to develop.
The advantage with starting offline is that you form a much stronger base. Theory and practicality differ like "Yanny and Laurel", there will be surprised on each step. To build a system capable of handling real world dynamics either you as a founder should have a very strong understanding or your IT parner have significant experience in that specific domain. Hence for the startups that can, the work should first start offline and then transit to digital alternatives.
Diving into the actions, the first step always is to have a thorough research on what to expect for the next 1 year in terms of turnover, revenue, company growth, challenges, customer acquisition and all the other factors that matter.
Once the research is completed break your plan on monthly basis just to keep a measure of how different can the reality be from the expectation. It will be a huge learning and it will grow you as an Entrepreneur. The early days are the most important as the right practices prove to be really productive in the future stages of your startup.
This is the single most important step as it is a direct measure of 3 things:
Your goal here is to understand your customers well. To know:
You will be able to use this information as your sales feature on your online portal. A perfect product is self-explanatory of its services and is able to guide its customer through user journey seamlessly.
Early days are super exciting, and we are eager to decide if our decision to start the startup is correct or not. Rightfully so, but money is not the thing that defines success. If you are able to form a loyal base of customers then you are doing it right. Generating revenue is just a matter of hitting the right model and it will come eventually if you have regular customers.
Hence, focus more on the delivery and customer satisfaction than the big numbers on the balance sheet. However, it doesn't mean that you dig a deep hole in your pockets to keep your customers entertained. Your customers should purchase from you for the quality of product and great service, not because of some petit offers.
Make your startup operational. Best way to understand and make loyal customers, till date, is by personal interactions. Take an example, Uber, Grab, Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google, everyone had a special focus on connecting personally with clients; Whether it was in terms of customer support, or client acquisition it has been a customer first approach.
Also, no matter how good the research may be, the real world scenario differs significantly. Each location is unique, each target audience is different and each domain of service has variations which could be best understood only by experience. So, go ahead don't be shy to reach out to your customers and set up a process of your service.
6 months will give you a fair understanding of how serious are you about the idea. This period will teach you about the different verticals of the startup that you will have to deal with in real time. It takes much more than a good understanding of the domain to run a company. There is delivery, finances, resource management, team building, operations, marketing, revenue, sales, customer relation, time management and a zillion other stuff. And trust me I have just scratched the surface with the above names, all these are will be required from day 1 itself. So do it for 6 months to realize and understand what you are getting into. Take my word, you are in for a surprise for sure.
6 months later you are ready to go for the real deal. Document everything that you have learned over the past few months and makes sure you write it in detail. Make sure to include all the different verticals, customers, delivery, operation, etc. list the challenges you or your customers or your team faced in this while. Highlight the strategies you used, irrespective of if they were successful or a complete disaster, it is still your learning and it matters.
Based on this you can bullet the features you would like in your application. 80% of the founder who has not used this approach, realize what are the crucial features of the application later. This causes them more time and costs to make a market fit product. More than money, it is the time and the psychological fall back you, that matters. Once you have your requirement well document you are in for a much smoother ride.