We’re pretty sure no one ever said running a startup is easy… If someone has said that, well, they are clearly lying to themselves and the world! This post isn’t going to be about Support Renewals specifically but more so the whole process of starting up a company from just an idea.
We started down this journey in earnest in January 2017 but it wasn’t just overnight. It took many meetups and discussions prior to that before circumstances aligned, things happened and the “Lets just do it!” moment occurred. We had done all the talking now it was time to put it into action.
Lets just do it!
The next 6 months were spent building a platform, writing code and figuring out how to represent our thoughts and ideas in something people could use. It meant learning how to do things differently, how to think differently and to learn new skills from coding, business and personal perspectives. Coding was going to take up most of the time, figuring out what it means to actually start and run a business needed to be done also. While the coding in itself was challenging, having to learn new ways of doing stuff and relearn old ways of doing stuff, learning to run the business was a wholly different challenge!
All of us have worked in other companies before startups, small to medium sized enterprises and large multi-nationals. We’ve all seen how things are done well in those previous companies, sure, but we’ve also seen how stuff is done badly too. When starting out your own company, you are determined that you are gonna take all the good stuff you had experienced before and leave the bad stuff at the door. There is one problem with this though… We have never actually run a business before! There is a big difference between working in/for a company compared to starting/running the company!
Most Valuable Player?
When developing a product or a web based service, MVP is an acronym you’ll hear quite a lot. It stands for minimum viable product. This is exactly what it sounds like. At what point does your product or service have enough functionality in it that people will be able to see and understand what it is and does? It doesn’t have to be glamorous or have all the bells and whistles in there yet, just enough to give a taster for what is yet to come. It was at this point that we decided we have enough features in there to “go live” with our minimum viable product.
Once live, with users on the platform, bugs and features came flowing in from the team and the users. Users are great for coming up with features or bugs you hadn’t thought of or seen! But not all feature requests warrant execution, be selective and make sure it’s good for your product/service and your users on the whole.
Help! I need somebody!
If you’re new to running a business, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Even if you have previous business experience, don’t be afraid to ask again! Seek out mentors, friends, even old bosses! Ask for some pointers, some pitfalls or gotchas to look out for. Reach out to your local enterprise board and community groups, the chances are they’ll be running a course or doing meetups for others who are starting up. In fact, that is exactly what we did through our Local Enterprise Office… An 8 week Starting Your Own Business course (2 mornings a week) to give an overview of what to expect, what steps to follow and what to avoid. Highly recommended.
Talk to your local business support groups, they’ll have the lowdown on various grants and loans available to startups in your area. Talk to them first before trading, there may be grants available to you prior to trading that aren’t available after you begin trading (we should have done that but didn’t… Do as we say not as we do, right?!)
Have your elevator pitch ready. Work on it, get it down, so you can rattle it off nicely at a moment’s notice. You never know who you’re gonna meet or where you’re gonna meet them! We all know people who have been there, done that and worn the t-shirt. Drop them a line, meet them for coffee, run your idea and plans past them for some guidance. Don’t hold back, talk to as many people you can, run your idea past them, get feedback! Special shout out to some folks who continue to help Support Renewals on our journey: Raomal Perera (Lean Disruptor) and Karen Sommerville (Call Focus). Go click on their company links and see what they can do for you!
Be sociable… Even with your family?!
When starting out it can be very easy to become disheartened by the lack of up take in your product or service. Use social media to get your company out there. Post updates, blogs, articles (like this!), etc.. However, just posting stuff isn’t going to get traction on your social media. Friends and family will be telling you how great the idea is all the time, this is good but ultimately not very helpful.
So, here’s where they can really help… If you share something, anything, ask your friends and family to like and share it also, even if it is about something technical that they may not understand. This will get your exposure up and may even make their friends/connections stand up and take notice… You never know who’ll see your posts if all your friends and family are sharing them! (NOTE: Post publicly!).
If only we all supported our friends and family in their new ventures as much as we support the big brands or celebrities we don’t know, right?! Therefore, keep hounding your friends and family to like and share your social media posts and return the favour when the time comes!
To charge or not to charge?
Figuring out your price point is another crucial factor. For a product it can be a lot easier to calculate compared to a service. In our case, we are still trying to figure out the best approach but in the meantime, offering a free service in an effort to attract users. However, it has been said on more than one occasion, by people in different sectors, that perhaps offering a service for free could in fact be putting some people off using it. Alternatively, if you charge for the service, you can have the same problem.
Freemium is probably the route we will ultimately take… A free basic service with pay-for premium add-ons. What model works for which service/startup will be a tough decision in the end… To charge or not to charge, that is the question!
Oh, it’s niche?!
If you have an idea that’s for everyone or can be used by everyone, then it is going to be easier for people to pick it up and run with it. But not all ideas are for the general masses, some are specific to an industry or a particular market, they’re niche. The problem here is that it makes it a lot harder to find the right people who will get your idea and can run with it. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a non-starter, it just means that you’ll have to be prepared to work harder at it to get it in front of the right people for your market.
It means you’re going to hear “Oh, it’s niche?!” quite a lot but don’t be disheartened, if you are passionate about your idea and there is a market out there for it, however small or niche it may be, keeping pushing it, working hard at it and eventually it will happen.
Yeah, we’re still waiting too! Fingers crossed. Running a startup in a niche market feels like the image above…
Please wait here until you are useful, thank you.
This is just from our perspective, setting up, running and building our company, Support Renewals. Your experience with your company may of course be different, but, it’s worth trying! Best of luck on your journey!
About Support Renewals (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our web platform is the best place for you to keep track of all your IT renewals, hardware & software support renewals, IT contracts, licenses, SSL cert expiry and other renewals. We are vendor agnostic, so you can use our platform to keep track of renewals from any vendor, new or old! Our dashboard gives you an overview of your renewals due throughout the year, giving you better forecasting and budgeting, always knowing what renewals are coming up and how much they previously cost you. Sign up today for your free account and get on top of your renewals once and for all! It only takes a few minutes to get started… https://www.supportrenewals.com