Are you an entrepreneur with no IT background who still passionately wants to start a business that depends on technology, even without being an expert in application development? Or are you a techie with a team of highly seasoned, stellar software engineers?
Regardless of whether your startup is well funded or founded by talented programmers, these are rarely the determining factors for success. The set of principles that will be much more helpful to you is straightforward and accessible. The Lean Startup Methodology will give you the tools to execute the initial stage of your business.
Lean startup principles dictate creating a minimum viable product or MVP, which gets the basics of your business model to market as quickly as possible. You don’t need to saturate a market or have a fully functional platform to proceed. Start promoting your MVP even before you release it.
Architecting Startup Revolutions
One thing you do need is a general understanding of software architecture, which is less intimidating than it sounds. If you have an idea for a business model and your initial research reveals promise, the software-as-a-service or SaaS approach will leverage existing architectures without requiring you take a degree in computer science.
SaaS also gives startups access to resources without making the capital investment up front; it’s a subscription-based format, so that you can pay vendors and bill customers monthly. While it might prove more efficient to invest in on-site assets when you build to scale, that is a long way off, and SaaS will allow you to bootstrap your way in on the ground floor.
So What Is An MVP and Why Does It really Matter For Startups?
A Minimum Viable Product is one concept from the Lean Startup Methodology that founders use to bootstrap products into the market. Of all the features and elements of your intended business model, decide on the one or two that will generate income and data when the early adopters start to use it. You don’t need an army, just a few hundred inquisitive users who generate enough data to validate the system.
Commit to a minimalist product that serves the narrowest possible niche. Your MVP must be the simplest application that will work both regarding the functionality and development and the platform that it requires in operation. Additionally, the market for your MVP must be as narrow and precisely targeted as possible, a niche.
The benefit of a niche market is that the audience will be tightly interlinked, a community of like-minded consumers. Once established with a few users in your niche market they are more likely to recommend your product to their peers. Done correctly, this will give you data to improve your MVP and the launch pad from which to expand your market base outward.
Bootstrapping A Startup
Using lean principles and creating an MVP enables startup founders to keep the cash burn rate to a minimum. Once you bootstrap development into a working prototype with a small subscriber base, you could reach out for funding. However, it may not be necessary, why dilute your equity or take on debt if you don’t have to? If you can create an MVP that will get you to the point of positive cash flow, you can continue to bootstrap upward and onward from there.