Marketing or Product development – Which first?

Should you develop your product first or start marketing the idea first?

If the idea has some legs to become a business, building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first could help. Once you’ve build an MVP, you can test it out with potential customers. Collect feedback from early users of your product/service and continue developing it to create the best value to your product/service users. Marketing the product/service once you’ve built a user base would be prudent.

Product development and marketing will go hand in hand overtime. In the initial stages, product development should be prioritized over marketing. An excellent product/service will always be easier to market!

Starting a business (while working full time)

There’s no “right” time to start a business. It’s never too early or too late to start one. I believe what’s most important to consider is timing of launching the business.

When you’re working full time, you get to understand the challenges, problems and opportunities of working in a particular field/industry. Using that domain knowledge and skills you have acquired, you can work to build something on your own. Instead of quitting the job right away and working tirelessly on your venture, taking some calculated approaches can pay off big later on and minimize the time/cost/pain of ┬álaunching a business.

Launching a business is very exciting and it completely changes your life. Taking the initiative to start an enterprise is daunting, challenging and thrilling at the same time. Here are few tips based on my experience and from others I’ve learned from on how to start your venture while still working full time.

  1. In the beginning all you have is an idea. So do the research, collect data, talk to people/stakeholders, figure out how big is the problem you are solving, understand why no one has started the business you are about to or how many players are currently in the market. At this stage, your full time job will help you financially to start the ground work.
  2. Once you’ve identified the problem you’re trying to solve for others, think of the name of the company and get the domain name/social media handles and channels in that name. Once I was at a Startup Weekend Kathmandu event and the winner’s web domain was taken by a competitor as soon as they were announced the winners. At this stage, you don’t need to leave your job yet because the above things can be easily done in a few hours.
  3. Start putting up content and slowly work to build up your audience. You can tweet/post/write through the company handle so it won’t be noticed by your current employer. No need to mention that you’re the founder of the company yet. At this stage, your full time gig will be paying the bills that come along of initially setting up the business – domain/hosting/lawyer fees/company registration fees etc.
  4. If you’re going to be selling a service or a product, build it yourself or hire people to make a MVP. You should not quit a job without getting your idea first tested in the market.
  5. Once your product or service gets a bit of a traction, work to get paying customers and a steady revenue stream. Identify a business model that works and how you can scale it up. When the idea has gone from conception to execution and a product/service is out in the market, you will start to realize that the moment has come to devote full time on it. You will then have to approach your boss and explain to him/her why you will be moving on. Always important to maintain good relationship with your boss because they can offer your mentorship, support and help as needed. Then quit your job and devote 200% in your startup. It’s now or never. Nothing great has ever been achieved without taking some risks.

Starting a business is both extremely exciting and challenging. There’s no formula to predict the right time to launch a business. The timing of the idea is a crucial component of how successful the startup can be in the present/future. By taking calculated steps to launch the business as mentioned above, you will be in much better shape when you actually do.

As an entrepreneur, how did you decide it was the right time to launch the business? Do share.



Your First Sale

Entrepreneurship is risky. You don’t know how your business model will do in the marketplace. You use the knowledge, skills and experiences to create the revenue model that you hope will bring revenue to your business. Yet the real test comes when you get out there in the real world.

You never know when your first sale is going to come. It could be a few days, weeks or even months. You’re anxious and optimistic. The wait sometimes is unbearable as your costs are adding up. But you know that you choose this path of entrepreneurship because you believed in yourself, your ideas and your vision.

The day comes. You have delivered on your promise to the customer. In fact, you have gone above and beyond to get this first sale. Congratulations. That sale (no matter how much you got paid) feels like a million bucks (unless you made million bucks which could make you feel like a billion bucks).Wow. You feel like you’re on top of the world. There’s no stopping you.

Embrace that feeling when you made your first sale. That “top of the world” feeling is priceless. Go ahead and be proud that you did it. Now focus on the tomorrow and keep making things happen.