The ‘Roadmap’ section of the Startup Starter Kit is an outline of the background research you’ll need to do and the steps you’ll need to take to get your business from the ‘idea’ stage to a viable business. If you’ve come to this in the wrong order, start with part 1, Finding A Market. This section will take you through making your first few sales and validating your product.
Timescale: 1-2 weeks
Success: Getting 10 people to part with their cash and thus validating your idea.
Failure: If your vision doesn’t sell, go back and change it.
Every company needs to sell something. If you’ve read the Roadmap this far, we’re going to assume you’re not a $mm funded Y-Combinator Alum with a crack team of devs working 18 hour days (though if that is the case, come say hello!).
If you’re bootstrapping, you can’t bet on virality. Plan for it by all means, but please, don’t try to build Facebook.2 from your kitchen table.
Sales are financial validation.
But wait… you haven’t built anything yet…
Why build something nobody wants?
Do you really want to risk writing ‘000s of lines of code before selling to 10 people?
Full disclosure: We did this bit badly. We put it down to lack of experience/balls. Honestly: define a vision/demographic, set a price, and go pitch it.
Setting a price
There are hundreds of articles about how to charge for your service out there. I’d advocate a Keep It Simple Model. You’re not trying to innovate here, you’re trying to validate.
Higher up-front payment = Higher levels of validation
As a basic level, I’d go for up-front annual subscription. Try a higher price than you think, then discount it if people resist.
Find some people to sell to:
Finding sales targets is also an issue, but we found two neat ways to do it.
Here’s a simple way to validate your pricing digitally:
Set up a PayPal/Stripe Account
Build a landing page on Onbounce/Wordpress
Set your vision out with a clear call to action
Set your target demographic on Facebook Ads
Send users to your page
Contact every person who buys directly, explaining the lack of service.
It’s great because it’s very quantifiable, but it will cost only a few bucks to do.
Or if you prefer physically:
Create a short sales contract – something with pricing on it
Produce some sales literature (iPad/Leaflet)
Go to a networking event/street corner where your target demographic dwell
Pitch it until people sign up
Once someone has committed to paying, explain the lack of service
When you have at least 10 sales (more is good!) you’ve validated the service. In reality, you will have probably pitched it 100’s of times or spent hours tweaking your landing page.
Learning is what you’re after though!
You can find the previous part of The Startup Starter Kit, ‘Defining Your Vision’, here.
The next part of the Roadmap, ‘Bootstrap Funding’, is here.
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