Don’t fool yourself, but also don’t get discouraged. Building a successful startup is no easy job.
That’s why nine out of ten startups fail within the first year. And from those, nine out of ten fail the second year. So no, it’s not easy. Does it worth it? Hell yeah! Igniting your startup is like having a safety match. You’ll need to stroke it once, and good. It will literally have to burst into a big nice flame in order to fulfil its purpose. So is your startup. You don’t want to burn through all your money and get nothing. You want traction. You want momentum. You want awesomeness.
And so it begins
It’s not true for all startups, but usually development bears the highest costs in your startup, so you might want to take the best approach, to give it your best shot. So here comes decades of trial and error regarding development. The standard (usually what you learn in school) when it comes to product development is the “waterfall process“. You spend one month studying the market. Talking to potential customers, to users, to friends, to family. Who would use your service? And how? And then, you would lock yourself up in a room and perfectly design the service, with all of its use cases, scenarios, features and everything you could possibly imagine. That’s another one or two months.
The funny fellows
Then, having all the specifications written, you assemble a small team of programmers and give them the tasks that you thought so thoroughly. They will roughly estimate 4 months of development, which will turn out to be 10, because some things got more complicated, and some things you wanted done differently, and you got some more great ideas along the way.
And so it ends
And then, comes the testing part. You graciously allow your QA team a month or two to check the product for bugs, since you don’t want to get gibberish software in front of your potential customers, right? So after 14 months, the potential customers get a first glimpse at your product. And you’ve burned through thousands of dollars. So they better like it, right? It must be the most useful and beautiful piece of software they’ve ever seen, right? Wrong. This is rarely the case. Not only that after 14 months the macro-economic factors have changed, but even the businesses changed. Everything changed. So no, when starting a brand new project, I wouldn’t advise anyone to go for Waterfall!
The smart alternative
On the other side, about fourteen years ago, the Agile software methodology emerged, bringing a bunch of mindset guidelines that completely changed development. Developement in Agile, as stated by the Agile Manifesto focuses on individual and interactions, on working software, customer collaboration and responding to change. These simple rules or guidelines completely changed the way development works these days. But I’ll go into details in a future article.
Going for the right approach is crucial to your startup’s success. Be wise, make your choice and stick with it for a while. If it doesn’t work out, adapt. Try something else.