Assess, Plan, Then Do — Stop Skipping Steps!

In today’s startup frenzy, I understand the pressures many founders are under to move fast and show what they’ve accomplished to attract investors and talent. As a founder of a tech startup myself I know from first-hand experience many of the pitfalls in the early days when one first comes up with an idea and has those days of waking up in the middle of the night with excitement to write down more ideas and aspirations for the business. It’s challenging for many to take a step back to assess their ultimate business goals and determine the details required to create the blueprint for execution. Everyone wants to jump right in and create the technology. Honestly, creating the technology is the easy part. There’s so many ways to cost effectively put a beta product into the market but that’s only one small piece of the puzzle required to build an actual company.

Due to my background in engineering and project management, I’m accustomed to taking certain first steps to lay the foundation for whatever I’m pursuing. Many are impatient in the process because they’re ready to just go and make millions with their idea, but it’s necessary to assess, define, and plan before you execute. In addition, once you execute there must be a process and metrics in place to monitor progress toward goals, measuring against your plans and adjusting strategies as needed. These are basics of any project that is being positioned for success and building a company is no different.

Although the excitement and motivation to get started building your technology is keeping you up at night, one has to defer the gratification and instead build the foundation. Why? Because you’ll find that those great features you dreamed about, that woke you up at night, are not what your customers want. In fact, the people you thought would be your customers, won’t be. It’s tough news to break to those just starting out, but it’s a necessary mindset to adapt in which you say to yourself:

“I have an idea I think is great but let me see what the market says. Let me see if those I think will be my customers want it. If those people reject the idea, I’m willing to test it on different customer sets. While testing, I’m going to actually listen to their feedback as it can help me confirm or deny my hypothesis of how great my idea is. Their feedback will save me time, money, and frustration. If the marketplace doesn’t respond, I’m willing to readjust my idea.”

Do you see how this thought process is so fluid? This process will allow you to learn what you need to know before spending money building a technology that is different from what your customers desire. If they don’t want it, they won’t buy it so it’s best to take a more strategic approach to executing on your idea. More than likely, your idea will go through a mutation which is why you don’t want to start building before you assess the needs of the marketplace. This is what we call “gathering the requirements” in the project management world and it’s a fundamental concept in building a business from your idea.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Assess
  2. Plan
  3. Execute
  4. Monitor
  5. Repeat Steps 1–4 forever!

I do this every day of my life and have been for almost 20 years. I’m a tech entrepreneur and business advisor who assists others in implementing their ideas properly, through a strategic approach. Position yourself to win. There’s no magic formula to building a business from your idea, but there’s strategic planning and decisions you can make to minimize your risk in the early stages.

~Monique Mills, Tech Entrepeneur and Principal of TPM Focus. TPM Focus uses a strategic approach based upon PMI Project Management principles to help early stage tech ideas and businesses plan and execute for success.