Figuring out the next step

Most people think that start – ups are all about the one great, revolutionary product idea. Once the moment of epiphany hits, the result is pretty much predictable. The problem with this thought process is that it disregards the years of hard work and toil endured by entrepreneurs, and that a large number of start – ups change over time – often dramatically.

Entrepreneurs find it difficult to subscribe to this view, and, in response, say things like, “ideas do not matter” or “execution is everything”.

If a reality – check is to be done, then ideas do matter. However, they are not in the narrow sense in which such ideas are generally defined. A good start – up plan is not a pipe dream, that entrepreneurs watch as it builds. A good start – up idea is, in fact, well – developed, planned for many years, and include contemplations for various paths according to how the world changes.

Wear the shoes of the creators of Netflix in 1997. Your first thoughts would be about the kind of response you would get from content providers, distribution channels, and competitors. You would also wonder about how long it would take for technology to develop enough to enable you to distribute content online instead of by mail.

You can also consider the quandaries of the makers of Dropbox in 2007. There had been many cloud storage companies that did not last. They would be wondering about the mistakes made by their predecessors and the effect mobile platforms might have.

When you are just starting, it is not possible to map the entire course of events. However, the following places can help you get a general idea and plan accordingly.

History
If someone has tried out your idea before (most good ones have been tried), you should try to see where they went wrong and what they did right. Most of these reasons are stored in the brains of those who had executed it, and this makes working in “stealth mode” a very bad idea. You will gain far more by learning about the possible scenarios than the risks you will run of having your idea stolen.

Theories
Check out the blogs written by entrepreneurs and investors. These places contain a wealth of historical data on technology start – ups. These people have observed and sifted through data to develop various theories that generalise the data they received.

Analogy
Another good place to look for the direction in which to turn is similar businesses. They will give you knowledge that no other place will. Look at their beginnings, their strategies, and learn about them. You can then utilise something similar in your venture.

You should also think about competition. Other start – ups are just a distraction. Chances are high that your and their paths will not merge. But, if you see many who are trying to do something similar, then rest assured that you might be on to something good. You should be, in fact, worrying about the years you could waste if you go down the wrong path.

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