In this story of starting a new business, I began to search for books on the subject, because I believed that this would be a way to start.
I got that right. Well, I’ve been wrong many times, and I often thought I was right about things I later realized I wasn’t. But, I have to be emphatic that I got it right when I got knowledge before I left the corporate world and start undertaking.
I still had my job, I didn’t think about quitting, and I didn’t even think I’d end up getting fired the next year.
I had traveled to New York in 2013, amending a week’s vacation after working for two weeks at the company’s South Carolina headquarters. I had prepared a whole list of lectures I wanted to attend, participating in several events related to the New York startup ecosystem.
At that time, the only business idea that was in my mind was the idea of the E-learning platform focused on training related to data analysis, business processes, consulting and systems auditing.
I was reading Eric Ries’ the book The Lean Startup, and I was beginning to realize in those events that that idea of prototyping wasn’t just a story told in a book.
Those ideas of starting small, spending less, developing fewer features, selling a product even if incomplete or not yet produced, began to make perfect sense.
Many of those people who were presenting a pitch of their business or simply attending an event to network, had something in common. They started their business by creating a prototype, tested and validated their ideas by going straight to the market, collecting feedback from the real customer, adapting their prototype over time.
But after all, what is a prototype?
A prototype is not something from the other world. A prototype can even be created with cardboard, if your idea is, whatever, a physical product.
The prototype is a product that is still in the testing phase, so to speak. It’s not the final version of what you want to create. It doesn’t have all the features you’ve imagined. It’s simple, it’s functional.
If your business idea needs to be made possible by creating a website or app, know that you may not need to have all the desired features implemented to start selling your idea, or rather your “product”.
The idea is that you can gather feedback with a minimal product, so you can focus your time and money on building a product that meets the needs of the end consumer.
Note that as fantastic as your idea is, it’s very likely that it doesn’t fit perfectly into what your customers need. You will need to adapt it, improve it over time. And it will be much easier to do this by interacting with your real customer, the one who has truly decided to take the money out of his pocket and pay for his product.
Now imagine if, perhaps, you spend months developing a product or feature for your product, which you thought was important at any given time, but later discovers that it does not generate value for the customer and does not contribute in anything for the success of your business. What happens then? You certainly lose time and money.
The idea of prototyping is precisely to allow us to discover these things before we spend tons of money developing features or products that no one wants.
Next time someone tells you that building something is difficult or expensive, try asking “what if we start building a prototype?”