Starting a software development company is no easy task. While it is incredibly fun and exciting, it also poses incredible challenges that will certainly welcome you to the world of startups. In this breakdown, we are going to walk through a high-level outline of the process of taking a startup from idea to launch. We will walk through five steps in this outline that will take you from your day one of creating your idea all the way to your day one of launching your product: Ideation, Customer Discovery, Find a Team, MVP Development, Launch Strategy.
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How to Start a Software Development Startup
If you are interested in starting a software development startup, you need to follow these five steps to take it from idea to launch:
- Customer Discovery
- Find a Team
- Build Your MVP
- Launch Strategy
Now while it isn’t as easy as just following these steps and boom you’re successful, this will help serve as a roadmap to guide you in the right direction and ensure that you are doing what you need to do in order to set yourself up for success.
Your Guide to Starting a Software Startup
Step 1: Ideation
Step one in the journey to starting your own software development startup is finding an idea to pursue. One of the greatest startup lines, in my opinion, is, “fall in love with the problem, not the solution.”
So what does that mean? It means that in pursuing a new venture, you need to be obsessed with the problem you are looking to solve. It isn’t about what specific solution you believe you have, because all it takes is one dissenting opinion to rain on your parade. However, if you are in love with the problem, one dissenting opinion is just another push in the right direction to identify the right solution to your problem.
The best problems to solve tend to be ones that you personally have faced since you are so close to the problem, so think about your pain-points and start your ideation from there.
Step 2: Customer Discovery
Customer discovery is the backbone of any entrepreneurial journey. You need to be sure that you take the time to validate your problem, ensuring that others are also facing the same problem and are seeking a solution to their pain points.
When it comes to customer discovery, I recommend reading The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick. The Mom Test, in my opinion, is the gold standard of customer discovery outlining how the majority of us approach this poorly and actually end up wasting conversations by conflating them with bias.
Make sure you talk to as many people as you possibly can and have a system in place to track all of your conversations. The more opinions, the more experiences, the more pain-points, the better!
Step 3: Find a Team
The first step in finding the right team is determining what your skills are and what gaps you are facing. If you are a technical individual, then maybe you are more in need of a CEO type person who can run the operations and a business development person to help with the launch and go-to-market strategy.
Take some time to whiteboard out what exactly you need in order to launch your MVP – work backwards. Figure out, based on the needed skills, what you personally can satisfy and what skillsets you are weak on. You can also try an option of hiring an outsourced software development team.
Step 4: MVP Development
When it comes to building your MVP, you need to think strategically about it. One of the greatest startup lines in product development essentially says that if you aren’t embarrassed by your MVP, then it simply isn’t an MVP.
So, you should be partially embarrassed by it! The goal of an MVP isn’t to wow people, it’s to validate your functionality and that you’re pursuing the right solution. It isn’t meant to be pretty, it isn’t meant to be perfect. It is meant to be scrappy and something you can get out to market as quickly as possible so you can keep the journey going.
Figure out if you can build your MVP with no-code tools, like Bubble for apps or Webflow for websites. If you can, great! If you need to code, see if you can leverage code libraries to shorten your timeline.
Step 5: Launch Strategy
The day has come, your MVP is done, and now you’re ready to launch! So what do you need to do? For starters, you need to get a strategy in place. How are you going to publicize your launch? Do you already have a waitlist of users? Do you have a newsletter? Do you have communities you can advertise it to?
It is important that before you actually launch, you have this strategy in place. Start to think through what your marketing plan is and what your go-to-market strategy is. The more focused, the better!
And most importantly, as you do launch, be sure to be as close to your users as possible! The closer you are, the better. Gather their feedback, listen to their experiences, and iterate as needed.