Technology and the internet has been revolutionary in terms of the opportunities it creates for people to take their ideas to the market. It is only an enabler and there is some basic principles that exist in starting any business which I will adapt a bit to related it to a software business.
Step 1: Passion Alignment
Starting a software business do not have to be boring and grinding away to design the next CRM, Accounting or even Stock Management system.
The reason why I mention passion alignment is because I think that if you want to start a software business it is to help a specific customer segment which you are either part of or worked with for a couple of years. Passion will make you push through some of the frustrations involved in developing a software solution and it could be lots of fun and rewarding.
Step 2: Idea Creation
Thinking of starting a software business always brings Google, Facebook, UBER and AirBNB to mind first and when I think how big they are it paralyses me with trying to even think where to start.
Software in my opinion exist for the same reason any other product based business exist and it aligns with things like time, money, entertainment aspect. Starting a great software business does not start with finding a great idea but more in finding the problem and solving it.
Step 3: Prototype Design
Once the idea is formulated properly and you have identified the problem to a specific customer segment it is time to get into design. This is normally the phase where a lot of people spend too much time on and especially if you are a software developer because they tend to start building the solution.
You do not need any technical skills and the focus should be to create what is called a wireframe that provides a visual guide on presenting the framework of the website or app. The wireframe can be as simple as just drawing sketches on paper or you can use wireframe software to assist with the purpose.
The important thing to remember here is that you will most probably go through a couple of iterations to re design the solution based on outcome of the next step.
Step 4: Validate Viability
This is the most important step which will validate if you actually have a viable business going forward and it involves pre-selling the idea. The most common mistake most future software entrepreneurs make is to keep everything secret, go into a 6 month to a year of building the solution only to realise it is not what the market wants.
Talk to your potential customer and show them the wireframes you did in the previous step to get some feedback regarding what might be missing. It is very important to focus here on the core problem you are solving and what the minimum features would be to alleviate the problem. If you just keep on adding features based on customer feedback the solution might never see the light of day as you will continue to scope creep.
Ask the customer if they would pay for this solution and give them the opportunity to pay a discounted fee by being part of the beta group. If you provided the right amount of value to customers they will be happy to fund the project.
Step 5: Development of the Business
During this phase you will have to decide on hiring a developer that can make your vision a reality and also based on the customer feedback see what is the minimal features to get this done as soon as possible. It is better to get something out sooner and based on customer feedback keep on enhancing and adding features.
Step 6: Growing the Business
The first beta customers have started to work on your solution and all the initial problems and features needed was resolved, now it is time to open it up to the world.
There is multiple strategies to take your business forward and the main consideration you have to take at this stage is if it will be just something that will focus on a small niche and able to fund a comfortable lifestyle or do you want to go BIG!
I hope this post gives you a starting point and something to consider if you ever thought about creating a software business. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post, please comment if you have a software business or thinking of starting one and if this post was helpful.