Simon from Launch48 guest blogs about this question: Got an idea in your head that you know will work, but you have no idea what to do first? This is a common situation facing entrepreneurs so Launch48 have created some guidance focusing on the 5 most important steps to help you get lift off.
Don’t focus on the full idea.
A common thought process is that you need a killer idea to get your startup going, however in practice this is not always the case
Lean startup methodology shows how you should be launching a product early and using customer feedback to define how your idea evolves. Some of the best startups that I know have long since moved away from their original idea to something they know customers want and will use.
If you have an idea start to think about how you can get going quickly and don’t spend all your time planning out all of the micro details.
Find the right team.
You may be the Maverick of the corporate world, top of class at everything you have done, world’s smartest person, but I can (almost) guarantee you can’t start a startup on your own. Whilst it is possible it is insanely difficult, not to mention lonely, so my number one step is to find the right people to take the startup journey with.
If you are looking to put your team through an accelerator (which I recommend) you need to have a team, Simon Jenner co-founder of Oxygen Accelerator points out that “while Oxygen doesn’t screen applications just because they have a single founder, it does make things more difficult. Oxygen Accelerator look for great balanced teams who have a full range of skills.”
The best way to find the right team is to attend events and meetups or use services such as Founder2be. Don’t go straight for the kill and propose a life long commitment on the spot, you need to build a relationship with this person / people as you will be spending a large amount of time with them.
Build a team of mentors.
Having the right mentors is almost as important as having the right team. Mentors provide experience and contacts, the two things you are probably lacking and two of the most important assets to have in a successful startup.
Engaging with the right mentor is a tricky situation as you need to make sure they have the right experience and contacts to fit your startup, and most importantly the right motivations for working with your team. Different mentors ask for different things in return for working for you, some ask for nothing, some ask for a small amount of equity. I will leave it upon your judgement to accept the right terms for your team.
Finding mentors is difficult. One option is to attend mentor driven events, such as Launch48, where mentors are on hand to engage with startups and entrepreneurs. You have access to these experienced, successful entrepreneurs for a prolonged period of time and you can start to build that relationship. Another method is to build a hit list of people in your industry that you want to be involved with your startup and reach out to them through email, Twitter or networking events (try to find events where they are speaking). Most successful entrepreneurs will be flattered you asked and will give you some advice – even if they can’t be a long term mentor.
Make the right commitment.
Not everyone can dive in to their startup as a full time career and that doesn’t need to be the case. After work and weekends provides enough time for focused work to get your prototyping done and business plan refined.
Commitment comes from ensuring that the time you have dedicated to your startup is followed and that you are spending your free time working on your company. If you only spend every second Sunday 10 – 12 working on your idea you won’t be shocked to find out you will fail.
An important point about commitment is knowing the end game and setting out criteria that if met means you will take the plunge. I have met countless people that couldn’t quit their job and wasted time trying to build a full startup in their spare time. There will be a time when you need to be prepared to take the plunge, make sure you set this point out and stick to it – commitment to your commitment.
London is full of events and workshops where you can practice creating a startup. These are great opportunities to try out an idea, build a team, and find some mentors.
Some events I recommend looking at to achieve this are: