A successful startup is made up of a collection of good decisions. It is led by entrepreneurs who are not afraid to make decisions, follow through on their decisions, and use the lessons they learned from earlier decisions to make better future decisions.
If you’re starting and fear the uncertainty of the startup journey, think about your launch phase in terms of the decisions you will need to make using a backward approach. Start by listing the different key areas of your startup like product, marketing and legal. Next, list all of the key decisions you may have to make in each of these areas. Finally, try making those decisions. Mentors and other entrepreneurs can help you with this mini business plan. Pay special attention to how and why they made those decisions.
What you will learn is that taking an idea to market comes down to making not more than five to ten key decisions. Not a hundred, just a few. And you only need to get a few of them right while keeping in mind that rarely will one decision fail your startup. Just like a successful startup is made up of a collection of good decisions, a failed startup is made up of a collection of bad decisions. Unless you’re not willing to learn from bad decisions, you will always have a shot at success in business.
Here are three important decisions every entrepreneur has to make to launch a successful startup.
1. Do I Start?
The most important decision of all is whether you are truly committed to starting and pursuing a startup venture. You may only need to make a few key decisions to launch a startup product successfully, but launching your solution doesn’t mean you have a successful startup. The real work begins when you put your product into customers’ hands. Are you ready for the journey?
We mostly see the statistics on the successes and failures of launched startups when the truth is, most startups fail before they even launch a product. Every other key decision is based on whether you are committed to seeing your product launched and used.
2. Building Your Team
Unless you will take the responsibility of building the product, your hiring decision will be the most expensive decision you will make. Choosing the right person or team can mean the difference between success and failure.
A good hire is not only someone who can build a good product. It’s someone who can help you build the right product. It’s someone who will challenge your assumptions, clarify your plan and help you execute as if they were your co-founders.
3. Defining Your Product
You can open a Word document and list all of the features and functionalities you want your solution to have or before you do that, you can study the competition, interview a few of your competitors’ customers and use the insights you gather to better understand what buyers need and expect from a better solution. That’s one of the key decisions you need to make.
You can adopt an agile methodology that uses an iterative development process centered around customer feedback and rapid development or you can decide to follow a more linear and structured development approach that starts with scope definition followed by development, testing and launch. That’s another important decision you should make and that your team should help decide on.
When it comes to product-related decisions for your first product launch, it’s as simple as answering two questions: what to build and how to build it. It can certainly take time to answer those questions, especially if you’re looking to go the extra mile, for example, by deciding to run validation experiments and speak with mentors. At the end of the day, all you need is to know what to build and how to build it.
If you truly commit to your startup, build the right team and make educated product hypotheses to solve the identified problem, you have made ninety percent of the decisions you need to make to take an idea to market successfully. In the process, some of the other important startup decisions you may have to make include answering these questions:
- How do I attract the first users or paying customers?
- What is the best legal structure for my startup and when should I incorporate it?
- How do I fund my startup?
In conclusion, just like anything else in life, an outcome is the result of actions that start with decisions. In an early-stage startup, the outcome you’re looking for is to launch a product your customers need. To achieve this outcome, you only need to make a few key decisions. Most importantly, you need to act on those decisions.