Tiny steps to achieving your grand plans

As entrepreneurs, all of us have ‘grand plans’ of what our start-up / business should do and will do. The reason we all get started is because of our vision, a dream we want to make a reality.  A large vision of building a super solid business, with varied product lines or services.  Billions of customers. Millions in revenues. Great vision! 

But the path to achieving this is more important than the vision itself. There are some very important things that one must keep in mind while starting out to achieving their grand plan:

1. Start with what you can achieve all by yourself: As a start-up, there are hundreds of things that are to be achieved. The team is usually small (founders only) and trying to get a hold on what needs to be built and how. At this point it is important to zoom-focus on aspects of the venture / product that can be achieved with the current resources.

2. That one key feature: Every product can logically be broken into parts. Considering one is just starting out, it’s important to quickly build something that seems complete in its functionality. The initial release of the product need not be the complete, bug-free product that was envisioned. If it’s anywhere close to being perfect, then it’s a wrong product that’s been released.  Alternatively, consider releasing ONE or TWO key features that are complete in functionality for Phase 1. This is otherwise known as Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

For example, if we want to build a grand recommendation engine that learns as it goes and makes suggestions to users based on their likes, dislikes, lifestyle, etc. It may be a good choice to start with a simple application that’ll take inputs from users. The input can be in the form of Thumbs-up, Thumbs-down, Rating, Likes, etc. And then build other aspects to it.

3. Release early: We all try to achieve perfection and this is usually the key reason that a product never gets released. When you’ve started out, aim for good-enough, not perfection! If all obvious bugs are fixed, if users can use it without major roadblocks or hurdles – release it. Version 1 is version 1 as it is meant to have slip-ups, bugs and unpredictable behaviour to some extent. So it is fine to release it.

4. Get some early adopters to use your product: Once a basic version 1 is being built, it is important to engage with potential early users. These could be friends and family, initial users from a relevant community that exists or the initial members of the community that you have started building. But, have a number in mind, of the users who will use your product and get them to use it. It’s important to get the right early adopters, as a large part of the product’s future roadmap will be influenced or determined by these early users.

5. Constant Feedback Loop: Once the basic version 1 of the product is released and reaches out to its first set of early adopters. It is important to keep getting feedback from them. So, make it easy for them – either build an easy feedback / response mechanism within the product for the users to send constant feedback. If not, have a schedule to reach out to them on either alternate days or once a week. Make it easy for the user to give feedback and also prompt them to get inputs on what you are actually measuring or looking to get feedback on. Open ended boxes may not be the most efficient to take feedback initially.

6. Make shorter/ faster updates to the initial product: Once the initial version is released, it’s important to keep working on the backend to collect feedback, iterate the product and release it to the users. Now, it is important to follow a structure where the team works on what to prioritize on and the duration between releases. 

It is important to break the larger vision into smaller achievable actionable plans. If not, you will never achieve your larger vision. As one moves towards achieving minor milestones, it is important to keep the key focus on value for the end users. Ultimately that’s what gets a start-up its loyal users, their constructive feedback and revenues too!  
Nandini Hirianniah,
is the co-founder of The Morpheus, India's premier start-up accelerator and micro fund. She works closely with start-up teams ranging from an idea to 2 years helping them bootstrap & build useful products. Follow her twitter updates @nandinih