It’s the desire of every software developer to be a founder or a co-founder, true, right?
Starting a successful software company as an individual developer can be challenging. Sometimes the cost can be really overwhelming as well. Some developers take that as an excuse for not starting their business.
In fact, the truth is 90% of software companies will fail. A recent study has shown that about 29% of start-ups fail because of lack of cash — and that stands out as one of the top reasons why start-ups fail.
Paul Graham, a partner at the Y Combinator startup accelerator, wrote in 2007 that start-ups usually die because they run out of money or a founder leaves.
While money is important it’s absolutely not a reason not to get started. The truth is, you can actually start and scale your software company without breaking the bank. In fact, without even spending a dime at first.
Tyler Denk, Co-Founder of VentureStorm in a recent article on Quora said:
“My co-founders and I launched VentureStorm as broke college students with absolutely no money.”
You too can do the same.
In the rest of this article, I’ll be walking you through 10 actionable steps required to get your startup up and running without money.
Step 1: Ideation
The ideation stage is one of the most critical stages in your business development process.
Developers usually come up with plenty of ideas all the time but just like every other person, once you allow yourself to sleep over them, you may find reasons to dump them.
Take out adequate time to brainstorm on the idea. Use pen on paper, use whatever, you’re more free with to do the brainstorming. Refine the idea.
Essentially, at this point, you should be extremely strategic. As soon as you conceive the idea you think makes sense and is solving a particular problem people are willing to pay for; quickly move to doing thorough research on the niche.
Understand that the idea might not be fully formed, as you keep working on it, you’ll most likely see significant improvements and you’ll also get to understand it more.
Step 2: Research
At this stage, you want to look at the challenges, the pros, the cons and the benefits you’ll derive from the business. At this point, you need to do a lot of market research.
Moreso, you also want to see the level of demand and supply of your products. You should step out to meet your will-be customers — the people that’ll be using your products — and try to find out from them what you can do to improve their business — help them stop losing customers and money or help them make more profits.
You can do this with surveys. You can host surveys with SurveyMonkey. They have a free plan so you’re not spending anything on this.
Also if your products will be serving a particular audience in a particular location. Visit the place yourself and try to ask some questions.
If the demand for your product is high, you should have a bit of confidence and get moving to the next step.
Step 3: Discover your MVP
Determine the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Your idea might be so big. Of course, you want to build a world-class app — an app load of plenty of interesting features. However, it’s important you understand that you need to concentrate on the single most important functionality your users are looking for in your app.
You need to start from there. Don’t to put everything all together at once. Be sure you are clear with your MVP. you’ll have to start from there.
Step 4: Find partners
Finding a co-founder or a partner might not be so easy. You need someone that believes in your vision and dream as much as you do. Someone that believes your idea is worth it and is willing to partner with you to build your startup together.
The way to find such people is by attending events. Attend tech events, make friends with the people you find interesting and the people you think are potential partners. Discuss your idea with them and ask if they’re willing to partner with you to get the company up and running.
Don’t be afraid your idea will be stolen. Ideas are nothing. Anyone can have an idea but the execution is what matters. If your idea is good enough, forget about it being stolen. Focus on meeting and discussing it over with the right people.
You can find events near you from Meetup.com.
Step 5: Implementation.
First-off: You want to make a prototype for of your product. You can use free prototyping tools to design the mockups and make your idea clearer to you.
Now it’s the time to bring your ideas to life. Determine the programming language that’ll be more suitable for your project. Use the programming language you’re most comfortable with and can allow you develop a more scalable application.
Concentrate on building your MVP. don’t try to create all the features first before you launch. Once you’re able to deliver the minimum viable product — the most important feature of the app that customers need, go ahead and launch your app.
Then move on to the next step.
Step: 6 Pitch angel investors.
When you have a viable business plan for your start-up and you know how much funding assistance you need, and what it will be used for, it is time to start looking for investors.
An angel investor (also known as a business angel, informal investor, angel funder, private investor, or seed investor) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.
This is always the scariest part. You might need to meet several investors for your business before you finally meet the right one for your business.
However, with focus and determination, you’ll find the investor for your business.
Here are some tips to help you get started finding angel investors.
ii). Join start-up accelerators: Start-up accelerators such as 500Startups, TechStars, and Ycombinator, offer advice, small seed funding, and exposure to other investors through their own networks.
ii). Stay active on professional social media platforms like Linkedin and ensure you connect with people you — and try to build long-term relationship with them. From there you can actually find investors that will be interested in investing in your business. It could be local or international investors.
Step 7: Leverage Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise fund for your startup.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for anyone with an idea that’s going to add value to humanity. With Kickstarter, you’ll have people who are already excited about your products support you.
Startup founders leverage Kickstarter to raise capitals for their company. So far since 2009 over 13,000,000 people have backed a project on Kickstarter and about $3.2 billion has been pledged. Sounds exciting.
So, you can leverage Kickstarter to start raising fund for your startup now. And it’s completely free to start.
Indiegogo is another great platform that allows you to get funds for your startup and the interesting thing about Indiegogo is that you’ll start selling your products already on the same platform.
Step 8: Family members and friends.
Your family and friends can be a huge funding source. Once your idea is clear and you have your product ready.
Your family and friends will most likely want to help you out. Reach out to them and let them know how far you’ve gone and hopefully, they buy into your idea and support you.
Even if they don’t support you with money, they can recommend you to some investors or influencers that can help you.
Step 9: Make friends with influencers.
Influencers are industry leaders you can leverage to drive your brand message. They’re also social media users with a huge following. Like so:
So you can make friends with influencers to help you get the word out quickly. Getting an influencer with over a hundred thousand followings in your industry to recommend or talk about your product is a big win for your brand.
Go ahead and look for this influencers and offer them so much value they can’t ignore you. Find the event they attend, attend the events they attend, connect with them.
Find a way to help them extremely and also discuss your startup product with them. Let them try it. If they are excited about it, they’ll most likely share your product with their followers.
Bigelow Tea wanted to promote their products, and encourage healthy living. They launched a marketing campaign with influencers, who were able to showcase the emotional appeal, and healthy aspects of drinking tea.
For the campaign, influencers incorporated Bigelow tea into their content in different ways. Some created original recipes using it, and others turned the packaging into DIY art. Blogger Ashley Thurman, of Cherished Bliss, provided her readers with a recipe to make iced tea with Bigelow tea and lemonade ice cubes. Jess, of A Million Moments, on the other hand, provided her readers with a guide to creating beautiful flower pots from the tea packaging.
The bloggers managed to generate more than 32,000 blog page engagements for their sponsored posts. With the help of their influencer marketing campaign, the total media value for Bigelow Tea increased more than threefold, and the brand experienced an 18.5% increase in sales. What worked really well for the brand is how the influencers seamlessly integrated the products into their usual content.
Step 10: Leverage content marketing
According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The traditional advertising model is going obsolete gradually as the concentration is being a move to content marketing. People are constantly searching for solutions to their problems online.
And your solution is also been searched for. What about you creating high-quality content to answer this questions and attract those users to your business?
That’ll be a big win for you. And of course, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
It’s important that you embrace content marketing. Create a blog around your business and create high-quality content.
Bonus: Do a lot of On-page and off-page SEO for your startup.Don’t forget that.
When starting your Startup company, don’t put money first. Ensure you have done your research and everything about your startup app is clear to you. Then follow these steps you’ll more likely get your startup running and of course, attract investors to help you scale your business.
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