Steps in the Rapid Startup Design Strategy to Create a Viable Company (655-2)

The Rapid Startup Design Strategy Overall : Go stepwise, don't dawdle, constantly always ask yourself, " Is this a dead end? &qu...

Saturday, March 31, 2018

#1 Who is going to pay you?

Rapid Design Process: Review Steps

The first step is to determine who do you want to help? The goal is to find your Ideal Target Customer. Yes, a customer. The primary goal of a company is to produce or offer something that someone will pay for.

Enthusiasm is great, but if no one is willing to pay you for your solution to their problem then this business isn't going to go anywhere. If you don't care about making money then this isn't a business. It's a hobby or gift to the world. Then you are not creating a startup and this is the wrong strategy for you.

Start by making it easy. Pick someone that you know well so can guess at the problems they have, the solutions they will accept, and what they will pay for. Likely options include:
  • You in the present - eBay was created to solve a problem of the founders. It's pretty common that companies are created to solve personal problems. After all, you know yourself pretty well. 
  • You in the past. This is tricky since people like you today could be different. Buts its a good start
  • A family member or friend
  • Existing customer. It should be easy to query them about their problems and the acceptability of a solution. And you already know what they will pay for
  • Business associate or co-worker. It'll be easy to chat with them. 
  • Someone you don't know or understand. I don't recommend this. If you go this route then you had better be willing to interview 10-20 of such folks to better understand their needs, desired solution and willingness to pay.
Then clearly define the ideal customer. In fact, identify the absolute perfect customer - perhaps there is only one. This person is suffering the most with a problem you can potentially address and will be most excited about the potential of your solution to solve it. They have cash and if you had the product available they would buy it. They might even seek it out and decrease your marketing costs. Parameters include:

Who: Young/Old, Rural/Suburban/Urban, Male/Female, Loves parties/like a quiet evening, Rock vs. Classical music. Keep going and defining that ideal person who is going to be so excited about your product and service that they will tell others about it.

What: What aspect of the problem is so troublesome for them? Perhaps you should focus your solution on that aspect.

Why: Why is this a problem specifically for them. In other words, why is this problem such a challenge? The ability of your solution to remedy that problem is what will make them ideal (or unhappy)

When: How quickly will they act? Is this something they will jump on immediately or will this purchase require time because of approval, price comparison, feature comparison, compatibility concerns, security concerns, high expense, the risk of failure, lifestyle change, etc. Your ideal customers will have few constraints and be able to purchase quickly. Others will be slower so your planning should account for the delays.

If you don't have an ideal customer that is so excited by your solution to their problem that they will pay for it, then you don't have an idea worth pursuing any further. If you can't excite them then your prospect is bleak.

Don't give in to inertia. Imagine how frustrated you will be if you spend your time and a huge boatload of money trying to convince folks that you do indeed have a great solution that they should pay for - and it fails. If the value of your design isn't obvious to the ideal customer then there simply isn't enough value.

Remember, there aren't many such customers so they alone won't create a viable business (unless you are Apple and we're talking about the iPod or the iPhone). The ideal customer is critical but not sufficient.

If you have an ideal customer laid out in detail then move on and define the problem they want to solve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Before you Start

Any business idea starts with your values and is limited by your personality.


  • Do you care if the product causes harm to people? If not then selling tobacco is a great idea.
  • Do you like things that pull people together? Perhaps a restaurant.
  • Is healthy food your passion?
  • Is being super fit important to you?
  • Do you love the outdoors and nature? Is sustainability a word you use frequently?
  • Do you seek out sleek and efficient solutions?
  • Is your primary goal to make as much money as you can and become rich?
  • Do you love technology? Do you seek out and have the latest gadgets?

    Personality Factors. Are you:
    • a loner? Do you resonate with people who like to be quiet and thoughtful?
    • the life of the party? Do you like to be at the center of large conversation?
    • comfortable on stage? Is it important to be adored by people?
    • neat and tidy? Do you like simple and elegant solutions?
    • impatient? Do you want things to be quicker?
    • a great leader? Do all kinds of people follow you?
    • a coach? Are you better with one to one coaching or a team? How big?
    • a caregiver? Is taking care of people and helping them your passion?
    If your business eventual business idea violates your values and doesn't fit your personality you may end up creating a monster and drags you down and leaves you empty - even if it succeeds.

    So write down your values and describe your personality first. These are constraints to your potential entrepreneurship.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    Steps in the Rapid Startup Design Strategy to Create a Viable Company (655-2)

    The Rapid Startup Design Strategy

    Overall: Go stepwise, don't dawdle, constantly always ask yourself, "Is this a dead end?", allow yourself to rethink, backtrack to an earlier step or restart.

    Before you start: Define your values and personality.
    1. Who do you want to help? Find your Ideal Target Customer
      • Identify who is going to pay for your product or service. Start with identifying a person you know well or can easily talk to. Perhaps it is someone like you - think eBay.
      • Or a family member or friend, existing customer, business associate or co-worker
    2. Define a Problem Worth Solving
      • Create a story for a persona and see if the problem/challenge resonates
      • Are they doing anything to solve the problem today? No? Perhaps not a problem
      • How big a problem is this?
    3. Find the competition and see if you can compete
      • You have competition. You need to figure out who they are and if your problem is one that they can already or easily solve before you go any further
    4. Make up a name to describe your solution
      • Every product has a name. Brainstorm, find a URL, test with others and be prepared for this be far harder than you thought it would be.
    5. What Words Describe the Solution to the Problem?
      • You need some words that describe the solution to the problem you have identified. A few words will do. What aspects of the solution are the most important or compelling? What kind of problem is it?
    6. Create a Logo
      • A logo helps you pull together your idea to something that conveys the message to the world in the most efficient way. Pictures do indeed buy you a 100 words.
      • There are excellent sites to create logos for free
    7. Rip Your Startup Solution Apart
      • It's painful but you need to stop and find the flaws in your design before advisors, funders, or customers do.
    8. Get Input from the Cloud
      • Build a landing page and see if anyone shows any interest (e.g. Buffer, Dropbox). KickoffLabsUnBounce
    9. What Does it Look Like?
      • You don't have a solution until you have an image of what the solution will look like. Use the image building process to simplify, refine, and improve your solution
    10. Create a Banner and Show it off
      • Pull it all together. Your logo, Simple text of the problem and solution you offer. A visual of what the solution looks like all directed at the customer you seek.
    11. Refine the Value are You Offering? Key Elements of a Value Proposition:
      1. Short, Specific to the Customer, Customer Language, Generates Enthusiasm [compelling, causes them to take action]
      2. Solves the problem, delivers benefit, improves the situation,
      3. What core value do you deliver to the customer?
      4. Which customer needs are you satisfying?
      5. What key activities does your value proposition require?
      6. What relationship does your target customer expect you to establish?
    12. Make a Video Presentation and put it out there.
    13. Would People Pay?
      1. Give people the option to purchase the product. Does anyone choose that? KickstarterIndiegogoSelf-starter is a great way to assess (e.g., Pebble). You can also use it to test the price point.You can also use it to test the price point.
      2. For what value are your customers willing to pay?
      3. What and how do they recently pay?
      4. How would they prefer to pay?
    14. Can you Obtain Users?
      • How do you get people to your page? Know the customer (e.g., Airbnb person sleeps in AirBNBs).
    15. Present the idea to a friend or folks you have a casual conversation with. 
      • I've been chatting up folks I sit next to on a chairlift. An airplane/train/bus companion works well too. Are they interested? Do they think its a good idea?
    16. Can you Obtain Compassionate Users
      • Need excitement and passion (e.g., Pinterest).
      • Meet the users and understand their needs and passion.
    17. Find a Solution that Resonates with Them
      1. Combine existing tools
      2. Demo with the target audience
    18. Attend to the Supply Chain
      1. Product cost is not component cost. The process of building and delivering the product is a substantial cost. Supply chains include every company that comes into contact with a particular product. For example, the supply chain for most products will encompass all the companies manufacturing parts for the product, assembling it, delivering it and selling it. Pieces include buy, manufacture, move, transport, sell, services, replacement cost/lost product, customer support costs.
      2. What are the motivations for the partnerships?
      3. What activities are most important in distribution channels, customer relationships, revenue stream?
      4. Through which channels that your customers want to be reached?
      5. Which channels work best? How much do they cost? How can they be integrated into your and your customers’ routines?
      6. What resources are important the most in distribution channels, customer relationships, revenue stream?
    19. Launch Startup
      1. When you have clear utility
      2. Prioritize Speed and Excitement
      3. Incremental and Iterative Development needs to address the underlying need not just be building elements of the final product. Youtube
      4. You need cash. Investigate multiple funding streams (Sweat, Kickstarter, Crowd Equity, Angel, SBIR, VC). Don't ask friends and family for money - you need them for support.

    Saturday, March 17, 2018

    Efficiently Creating a Viable Business (655-1)

    In the next few blogs, I am going to simultaneously utilize and lay out a strategy to create a viable business that you want to run and meets your personal objectives.

    Ideal Customer: If you want to start up a new business that is profitable and sustainable in the long term then you are are the ideal customer for this blog

    Problem: Creating a viable business consistent with your value system is a novel challenge, time-consuming, and potentially expensive. The folks who propose to help or guide you
    • tell it will take a long time
    • profit from their providing advice
    • are based on business creation models that are likely to be out of date or out of sync with current trends
    • are unlikely to share your value system and may guide to create a company you don't want to create.
    Competition: Everyone in the "business" of helping people create a viable business is more concerned with the profit of their business than creating a simple solution for you. Business is business and this business of helping you create a company is no different.
    • MBA programs sell MBAs. They all take 10+ courses and extract from $10K to $150K from you or your company. What would be the logic of making it easy?
    • Others sell books, online courses, or worse yet "consulting services"? If it were straightforward who would buy their product? Look at any website that offers "free advice" and you will rapidly see a business model behind that website.
    • Boot camps are fashionable. You remember going to a camp when you were young. It was either miserable or a blast, but it is memorable. And those folks get a piece of your company.
    • Incubators too want a piece of the action.
    • How about angels, they are here to help right? Nope, they want a return or a piece too.
    • VCs have a hoard of cash to spend. Do you really think VCs are going to hunt through every idea with the same amount of care? They are busy people too.
    • Bankers. They are the only dispassionate people out there. They don't want your money and they don't want to own your company. How much are they willing to help you? No much. Sure they will give you money if you give them access to your house value.
    So "start your business" advice is not freely given. The goal of any organization that tries to help you launch your company is to make money or own a piece of your idea. And the advice product is not cheap.

    Solution: Rapid Startup Design - Rapid design of a customer experience focused business

    It's time to release a FAOS "freely available open source" solution for the task of showing people how to create a viable business that they want to run and which meets their goals.

    Why Rapid?

    By the time you are done, the business opportunity will probably have ended and your idea isn't viable anymore. And you will have given up your money and time. In essence, the value of your idea decays over time. Your best opportunity is right now, so get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

    Is this freely available strategy "effort free"?

    As everyone knows, nothing is really "free" and all of the above aren't free of effort either. The main value of all of the above is that they force you to follow a plan and be structured.

    As an example, the MBA will make you listen, learn, take action, submit, review, and get your degree. The training will likely bomb halfway if you lack the drive to make a lifestyle change, commit to a long-term plan, and stay focused.

    This solution is like losing weight. It takes a lifestyle change, long-term commitment, and focus. So if you are not ready to make a lifestyle change, long-term commitment, and stay focused then stop now. Don't delude yourself that the above solutions or any strategy will give you those qualities.

    But if you have a self-control to make a lifestyle change, commit to a long-term plan, and the ability to stay focused, then this strategy is for you.

    For the entrepreneur in you, read on to the next blog.