Updated: Sep 3, 2021
When building a business, its all about sustaining momentum. But your ability to fuel that momentum will rely on stoking three main resources at once. Hence, why bringing any type of new product to market is not ‘fast, cheap or easy’. In practical terms these factors translate to:
Time: The hours/months/years you and your team can dedicate.
Money: The capital you are able to allocate.
Skills: The knowledge and effort you can contribute personally and through hiring.
Access to these resources will shape your success - so get to grips with the depth of your pockets, the free slots in your calendar and the length of your friends list.
How much can I allocate?
To illustrate my point here, I could use the exhausted quotation ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, but I will avoid being too cliché. I don’t need to tell you that it's time-consuming to build a product. What I will suggest though, is to take a critical look at your essential commitments (work, cooking, fitness), and figure out how much you can dedicate per week. If you’re spending 10 hours a week watching Netflix, know that you have time to repurpose toward more productive means.
By understanding your ability to commit to your project, you can begin to build realistic expectations towards progress.
Scheduling and tracking
Assigning time to work on your baby will ensure that things get done, even if you’ve only got a few hours spare. It might be day 1, but treat it like a real business! Routine is key. I would highly recommend tracking your hours, breaking them down further by task. It is so, so valuable to review each month and analyse where time was spent. The further you progress the more valuable it becomes.
It’s also a great accountability tool, to hold yourself liable. This is pretty valuable when you’re a team of just one! This can be done on a Post-it, but better yet start using a great (free) time tracker like T-Metric (I have used this for years).
It’s important to do some form of budgeting for the project, but it’s also very hard to predict with such uncertainty. You may want to begin by just forecasting the first 6 months, by looking at the scope of the project you will encompass within that timeframe.
Early on, your costs will most-likely include freelance hires, consultancy fees and investigative costs while validating your idea. You may also have initial startup costs, like a new computer, dedicated work desk or a button-activated espresso machine to boost founder morale.
Depending on your personal situation it may, or may not be a good idea to get outside investment at this stage. Most sensible entrepreneurs will aim to validate their concept before borrowing capital. If you don’t think you have enough cash to start, it’s probably worth saving before you begin, to ensure you can sustain momentum.
If you really need to borrow, lending from lenient family members is of course a better approach than maxing out credit cards. You will also be hard-pressed to convince outside investors to believe in your napkin sketch at this stage too. Further down the line, a capital source like crowdfunding could be an excellent way to launch your product.
Realising your product idea will rely on sourcing the right skillset, to develop it into a marketable product. The complexity of the solution, your market, your goals and more will dictate the type of people you need to hire. But hiring people can increase expenditure quickly, so you should do so wisely.
Wearing all the hats
Begin by asking yourself, what you can bring to the table. If you’re designing bathroom accessories for basketball players, you don’t have to be qualified engineer to tape a broom handle to a plunger. Be scrappy, bootstrap, get creative – find ways to imitate the thing you’re trying to create. Right now, you aren’t trying to make it perfect, you’re trying to create a representation of the concept. Treating it as such will save valuable time and cash.
At some point you will need to hire specialists, but in which fields? Electronic engineers? A robotics wizz? Maybe even a humble product designer? Consider what expertise you will need in order to materialise your concept. When you know what skills you require, you can prepare for the costs involved. The expense of which will vary widely based on field of expertise, seniority, location, urgency etc. Before you speak to anyone about your concept though, be sure to protect it.
Also consider the availability of said personnel. If your friend builds websites but has 5 kids, she/he probably needs 6 months’ notice before they work on your landing page. You will not only need access to the right skills, but also at the right time. Another aspect which is difficult to account for, so be sure to line up a plan b for critical roles.
Before you dive in head-first, it’s important to know how deep your pool of resources is. Time, money and skills are finite, so by getting a realistic understanding of your access to these, you can better plan your roadmap. In turn, this will ensure you maintain your momentum factor. Your key driver to sustainable success.
Okay, so I’ve figured this out, what should I do next? How about creating a roadmap to scope your project?