I am writing this because my past self would have saved so much time and energy if someone gave him this advice. It's easy to read this, quite hard to implement though. I still make mistakes
My approach may seem kinda strange but I have it developed after failing a lot of startups. This method is inspired by Arvid Kahl and TK Kader's lean bootstrapped strategy.
Most people when thinking of startup have two approaches
I want to start up but I'll wait for a great startup idea to strike me
I don't care about the idea, let's start building the product
I see both have their pros and cons as the former keeps its focus on perfectionism. If you are gonna spend the next 5-10 years working on an idea you better choose a good one but traps you in a never-ending cycle of coming up with a good idea and never starting something real.
The other one enables you to start but you soon run out of enthusiasm.
Still "I don't care about the idea, let's start building the product" approach is far better than the "I want to start-up but I'll wait for a great startup idea to strike me" approach. You actually get to learn a lot this way!
To be honest, both approaches are bad because you as an entrepreneur is NOT responsible for developing an Idea. you are responsible for solving a problem. easy enough?
No! Not at all, cause even though I understand this, I still fall into the trap of loving an idea and developing over it. It's pretty easy to get distracted
The Ideal approach
This is a process to create bootstrapped, sustainable & profitable start-ups and not VC backed Unicorns!
A bad team, a bad GTM and a bad product are still better than a bad market.
As an entrepreneur, you must understand what a niche is and the market you are gonna serve, and there lies all the magic!
Choose a niche that interests you. It could be anything like gaming, real-estate, crypto anything. And now go and be a part of that community.
Let's say you love SaaS, then be a part of tech twitter, indie hackers, PH etc. Just join a community
Network and be proactive
I would say that you ideally network with a lot of guys, go on calls frequently, make awesome friends and be a part of that community. And don't just observe it. Here, you will get to learn a lot about your audience ( the community ) And here is where the magic starts, you will start understanding the problems of everyone in the community and
Problems = potential startup idea
Ever made a product for months and realized later that no one wants to buy it? Well, I have done that. I still do. It is very easy to confuse Vanity for Validation.
By this time you might have already networked with a lot of people and made a good following around the niche. Now is the time to identify and start validating the problem.
As you know you already have a problem, approach everyone in the community and ask them if they have that problem and will they be willing to pay you if you solve that. Tweet about it, DM people, and write emails. If you want to learn how to write effective emails, here you go: Click here
If someone is ready to pay you, take that Damn money! And Congrats! Your idea is now validated!
Believe me, if your product gets prebooked there is no better validation than that! People code for 6 months straight and struggle to get even 1 customer. I know what that feels like :(
Someone paid you or at least gave you the word. Now go and start coding! Stop!!! Stop!! not yet. you have 100 pre-bookings at most. In a real case scenario, you would have around 10-15. Don't start coding yet. Turn this into a manual agency.
What Do I mean by that? Don't code! Go and manually solve their problems. Instead of building a website builder, build websites yourself. that would be so much efficient! You would not have to waste much time.
The best part, You are getting paid to do that Manuel work. If you don't want to you could just delegate it to someone else. But I would still advise you to do it yourself if you can. It would teach you a lot.
P.S initially do things that don't scale!
Well, distribution is the king and I am ready to debate with anyone on why distribution is more important than the actual product (Unless you are building a veryyyy hardcore deep tech company).
Now as you are doing manual work for those people. Start posting about it! create social media accounts, write blogs, make podcasts and share about how your agency is solving problems for people. That will bring in more clients for you! No need for any paid promotion!
Build a community around your distribution. It's the best thing you can do! Just interact with people, be human, share stuff!
Finally the Product!!
Haha, took so long but now when you are unable to Handel soo many clients and requests you can start coding and creating stuff to automate your manual tasks! Phew, took long enough.
This can be a fairly long process and might take about 2-3 years but the results are worth it! A 100% profitable, bootstrapped and sustainable startup!