Building and Marketing a Lean Startup
The current tech industry is going through a major boom cycle. We are seeing more startups launched in the past 4 years than ever before in the history of the Internet. Families and friends can quickly share information on many different networks with ease! And it’s such an exciting time to be working on new products for the web & mobile devices.
In this post I want to share some ideas for building and managing your own startup. It is my opinion that focusing on lean, steady actions will yield the greatest results. Your goal is to have some product up and running which is good enough to attract an audience. This can only happen over time and requires two important concepts: hard work and perseverance.
This is an essential trait you should master when launching any startup idea. You can’t jump right into something and start coding the layout without having a solid foundation. But you also don’t want to spend weeks planning out each intricate detail of the user interface.
When planning your startup take just enough time to rummage through all the ideas you need at launch. It’s great to have a list on the side of additional features you’d like to build one day soon. But ultimately your goal is to get something online, and fast!
Be sure to draw the lines so that you’re confident moving forward with the launch. Understand how your web app is going to work and how users will most likely respond. I feel that actions speak much louder than words. But moving forward with no plan is how your ideas fall apart 1-2 years down the road.
Work on Open Source
If you have a team of 2 or 3 developers it may be worthwhile to build your product from scratch. Many programs such as Objective-C iPhone apps do not have the luxury of massive open source code databases. Github is a great place to start – but it’s not always your best option.
However in most cases it’s completely reasonable that you could launch an idea initially on an open source CMS. WordPress, Drupal, Magneto, Pligg, and SMF are just a few names which come to mind. These scripts have been tested thoroughly for bugs and I maintain they are the best solution to just get something online quickly.
Iterate and Reiterate
I cannot think of a single startup which has initially launched and never changed a thing about the website. Updating features and adding new components is just part of the product development cycle. But during the startup phase you need to iterate these changes quickly.
To help with marketing and gaining exposure you want to focus on your own unique ideas first. What makes your website stand out from all the competition? Is there something you could do better than all the other options?
Do not be afraid to run some case studies and pull data from analytics. By studying user actions you can quickly learn which features are important and which have been ultimately ignored. Keep yourself busy in testing new things and your startup will trigger a great deal of attention.
Solid First Impressions
We all understand how important first impressions can be. When initially landing on a website everybody is prone to being critical of all the faults. Your goal is to reduce these so that most of your visitors truly enjoy the browsing experience!
But when you start thinking about making the perfect first impression then you get caught up building dozens of new features and interface changes. Understand that there is a limit where you finally want to launch the product and see how it runs. Getting something up online early is better than waiting 2 or 3 months to finalize smaller bits and pieces.
An alternative to this all-or-nothing launch mentality is setting up a mailing list. You can design a single-page demo feature where visitors can enter their e-mail address for future updates. This gives you plenty of time fine-tuning the product while also gathering a small audience interested in your idea.
Creating Real Purpose
Each and every startup website or application is constructed of ultimately one main goal. To connect with friends, share your location check-ins, offer food reviews, or communicate with business colleagues(as a few examples). Whatever your purpose it should be bold, brash, and easily recognized.
Create your purpose right from the get-go and don’t lose sight of it! All the future renditions you change on the website should be geared towards keeping visitors interested in your idea. Their purpose is to keep you thriving with active members and new learning points.
Not every founder is a genius in the field of business and user interaction. Sometimes our initial purpose is poorly constructed and it helps jumping back to the drawing board for a fresh start. Accept that this may be the case and keep your mind open to new ideas. Startups are often flexible enough that you can change your entire target market without losing traction in the long run.
I hope these ideas can be helpful to new startups all around the world. Many of the modern day big-name Internet brands have been originally founded in North and South America. But web developers are popping up all over Europe, Asia, and many other parts of the world. It’s more common than ever before to see young people getting involved with business and e-commerce. This opens a whole new sector of IT products which is built on a fast-moving global marketplace.