The pet project that went out of hand: The important things

Here are seven high level things that I think are very valuable to keep in mind in any venture you go into and will hopefully help you on your road to success:

Analyse your target group.
If your venture is for everyone… think again. I dismiss everything I see if I get the pitch “well I believe that anyone can be the customer” that will never be the case, ever. Even if you have a very broad group that might be potential customers or users, pick a niche and test there, if that does not work out, test another niche.

Shareholders Agreement.
If you are working with others in your venture this is the first thing that you should do and I do not care who is going into the venture with you. Hopefully the day will not come, but in many cases it does, when someone thinks; “Im doing all the work here, he/she does not quite get where we are going with this and is not delivering any value to our venture. It is not fair that he/she owns just as much as me.” This is a thought that comes up in all companies I would think. A good Shareholders Agreement will ensure that both the one that does not fit anymore and needs to either be let go or leave and the one that is left behind know what to expect in a situation like that. The end to a business relationship can be really hard, especially when you have friends or family onboard, to speak about these things in full honesty before hand will soften a really tough position.

Find Your MVP – Test, Test, Test, GO!
When you start you are starting from scratch, you have a few readers (can apply to customers or users) and you have to try a lot of different things for them to share the message and recruit on your behalf. To start with we did not spend anything on ads or boosts to get traffic and that was a part of a Lean Strategy to create a minimum viable product and test that with a few users. When the “product fit” (MVP) had been established we went all in, putting in ads and social media campaigns to reach more of our audience.

Routine, Routine, Routine.
To be clear: this comes after “Test, Test, Test” because you will have to test what routine will float your boat. After you have figured that out you need to be persistent in your customer facing activities, your readers/users/customers will start counting on your routine and they will be vocal if you break that routine. I think that the routine part is very underestimated in many cases and can make or break companies.

Monetize!
Meaning that you might have all the users in the world, if you don’t find a way to monetize on your venture, either get investors that will back you even though you don’t make any money or get a business model rolling to allow you to continue to build up without the worries about the finance, your personal ones and/or the companies. Of course peoples situation is different, some people can sustain without income longer than others, that allows freedom, but no matter how patient you can be, if you don’t figure out how to make money on your venture, it will come to an end one way or the other.

Master Sales!
This point is of course almost the same as here above, but it needs to stand on its own because you can have the perfect business model and a great way to monetize on your venture but if you don’t master the sales process, you won’t make it. This can be tricky, and there is no manual to accomplish this part. I sometimes think about the sales as a startup within a startup because you have found a product fit but you have to go back to the “Test, Test, Test” phase to first tune and then get the revenue engine roaring.

Think about the bottom line.
Surround you with people that understand that the higher purpose is the success of the venture and no player should be non replaceable. While the team is small it is though to manage full redundancy in the team, but strive to do so. This was not the case in this project at all points, but I am sure that we would have taken the venture even further if this would have been everyones mindset, at least we would have avoided some tough times.

These points are not your script to success, they are the things that I found valuable in my successful venture. Things like these are great to get insight, new perspective or ideas and should not be thought of as exact science, every venture is unique and needs different emphasis and ways to become successful.

This is written as points from my story of a successful venture: “START to EXIT in 14 months; The pet project that went out of hand”