Picture this. You woke up this morning with this idea of a new project in your head. Shower is done, breakfast is in the past already, but the thought is still here, hanging. This will be the new project that drive your life (at least the next hours). And maybe, a new source of income not so far in the future. However, there is this one part you know nothing about that stop you right off the bat: we are in 2020, customer acquisition is done online. How are you supposed to make money from this idea if you don’t know how to be online? If you asked yourself this question, it’s already a step in the right direction.

Thinking ahead is everything

If you are like me, most of your ideas were abandoned along the road, due to lack of preparation. Maybe this time, it’s time to do it differently and think it through. At least, the firsts steps. This project of yours, which could be either fully online, or supporting a physical business, would surely benefits from an early reflexion. By defining the scope of your idea and your first expectations early, your project will evolve in the right direction step by step. During this process, this project is taking your mind, but not all your time. Although I love seeing a fully commitment to a new idea, it is probably too soon to quit your job to go full time on it! Only once you have reaching concrete steps (by having or getting near to a minimum viable product - MVP), time will be to define your goals and the financial aspects. Do not kid yourself by imagining a full salary one month after the idea pop in your head for your first project! It’s the quickest way to fail.

First things first, you did your proper market search and your assessment of the resources at your disposal. Launching a new project requires time and money. You can either have one of them, or both. Let’s just say, having neither of them would probably be a bad start.

Having money could allow you to hire a contractor (like the developer you need for the project).

Having time, with a pince of motivation, will allow you to learn the required skills by yourself. Chances are that basic skills could be enough to kickstart a first version or your project, which is the first milestone. It will be improved later.

But let’s be realistic, starting by yourself or by hiring the right people(s) will have an enormous impact on what could be your expectations.

Scope & Expectations

Whether this new idea is simply a new website for your physical business, an online shop, a new service or product, or a new mobile application, you need to scope it down before going too fast too far in the wrong direction. To do that, take a paper and define what is your project. What form should it take?

A new website to increase your online presence and branding? A new product or digital service as a web or mobile application? An online shop to sell physical or digital goods? Or an ebook about the specificities of the Burmese cuisine? Hopefully, it is the last one.

In case of a website or application, try to define as many features as you can. Take some time to look at the competitors, or examples that you like. You will not reach for something as complete as them at first, but it could highlight a must-have feature for your MVP.

Allow me to add one step for you that will be important, and usually forgotten by newly entrepreneurs for every project: creating your audience (whether it’s organic, followers, readers, etc). A common mistake with a lot of new online projects is to mainly focus on creating and going live with the idea, and expect the customer to just…be there. Marketing is a billion dollar market for a good reason. But be reassured, you are right to focus on your idea, and you don’t need to have a bachelor in marketing to launch a new project. Just keep in mind that creating and reaching your audience will be part of the work at one point: Acquisition, Conversion, Retention. We’ll come back to that later!

Along with your idea’s scope, you need to setup some first expectations. An expectation is a metric that will help you setup milestone for your project in order to reach your goals. Examples of expectations would be a timeline for the shipping of your new website, a number of sales on your new online shop during the first year, an annual recurring revenue on your new service, etc. It is very important for your expectations to be realistic. Unrealistic ones only bring the wrong insights on how your idea is perceived and welcomed out there. Study the market, bring yourself closer to other business owner in your area and gather some feedback.

For example, in my experience, on average, a new online shop can take more than a few months to do its first sale (once your family and friends are done with theirs!). That is the reality for most of those online shops built after the owner saw the last advertising of this new “build your first website in 5 min” tools. A large percentage of those websites will be shut down or be abandoned before the first year due to false expectations. The result of this is a loss of time and money.

You’re on the right track

Keeping these expectations in mind during your project development will help you keep your feet firmly on the ground and make sure your project evolve in the right direction, step by step and keep you to push more work and energy in your project.