Every month we’re featuring a guest post from companies and people that we respect or admire.

Jon Ellis from tutorhub.com is our first guest offering up advice on starting up an online business.

A few people have asked me along the way to dispense my wisdom on start-ups and what makes one successful. In a nutshell, here it is.

  1. Follow the right idea. Share your idea with as many people as possible, particularly target customers – get them to tell you if you are solving a real need. Their feedback and opinions will help you shape what you want to do. Remember noone has a monopoly on good ideas, least of all you.
  2. Do the sums. Excel is your friend. Model out what the financials of your start-up might look like. Focus on the cost and income drivers. Do lots of scenarios. Ask yourself difficult questions. Does the idea really still stack up?
  3. Get the right people. Sounds obvious, but you need to have the same objectives and values as co-founders and staff. Get the very best developers you can, and use open source.
  4. Launch early. Get your product developed quickly and as cheaply as you can. Get it out in front of customers. Get them to tell you ‘if your baby is ugly’. Check out what people are willing to pay – if you can, try and get some advance sales.
  5. Change the product iteratively and quickly. Keep on doing this to you have a product that the market actually wants and is willing to pay for. If you can’t do this, then the product is wrong. Look at what Steve Blank has to say on the subject.
  6. Develop bounce-back-ability. Roll with the punches. Try not to get too defensive about your idea. If you get knocked down, – which you will get straight back up again and carry on. Don’t take no for an ansimpleweb.co.uker.

It’s not for the feint-hearted. Be prepared for late nights, crises of confidence and running out of cash along the way. But if you get it right, it can be extremely satisfying and even rewarding.

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