I have been part of 2 start-ups in the past 5 years, co-founded both. Before getting into it, I labored for long to find the right preparation or knowledge required to start. I regularly get questions from friends & acquaintances who struggle with the same problem, so I thought I would list down some resources that one must go through before getting into action.
This post is not about raising money. Its aim is to help you define your product, find out your customer and start selling. I haven’t raised any funds, nor I possess any knowledge.
When you are at an ideation stage and have the first draft of a product idea, what’s the only thing you need to focus on? Who is your CUSTOMER?
The following list would help you find an answer to this question:
1. Lean Start-up Course by Steve Blank: It’s an online course available for free. It is a great asset to give shape to your idea & touches on every important aspect of a business. The best part is that you don’t require any prior knowledge to take this course.
2. Human Centered Design course by IDEO: IDEO is #1 design company. I suggest everyone follow their updates. They have a fantastic online course, available for free. It will help you in improving your product.
3. Contagious book by Jonah Berger: A very challenging part about selling a product is the messaging about your product. You not only want the people to know about your product but, most importantly, remember it. This book & the toolkit is easy to use and effective way to craft campaigns for your product marketing
4. Influence by Robert Cialdini: Why would anyone choose your product over product from other competitors? In the beginning, when you are going out to talk to people and draw their attention to your idea or product, you will hope to persuade them to take interest in your product. This resource will guide you in drawing an effective communication strategy.
5. The Excellence Dividend by Tom Peters: What is unique about any company? Why some keep coming up with one successful product after another or remain profitable even after years into a challenging business environment? It’s culture. But how do you define it? This must-read book by Tom Peters, will help you with this question. The best part about this book is that it contains suggestions on books to read on every aspect of creating an organization that is a winner in every sense.
6. Mad Men Series: Just to add some fun and inspiration to the entire process of defining your product, I am suggesting this series. The series is about a group of folks in an advertising company who start few companies of their own. It is a work of fiction that contains some genuine insights into thinking about brands and marketing. It also contains a suggestion about a must-read book that you need to find out yourself.
If it’s an e-commerce start-up, Location is (Still) Everything by David R. Bell: Selling an item online is neither a business model nor a product. It is just a channel to reach your customer. Even, in an increasingly digitized world, the offline has a major bearing on shopping behavior of consumers. Read this intelligent book to define a synergy between the online and offline world.
This would get you rolling. However, this is not a one-time activity, especially the Business Model Canvas and the STEPPS. I usually prefer revising them every 6 months.