As a woman venturing into tech entrepreneurship, it could be argued that the deck is stacked against you, since tech is still one of the most male-dominated industries. However, many female founders have found tremendous success in tech, and you can too. One of the most asked questions I get is “How do I start?!” Going from idea-stage to starting a business isn’t simple but it isn’t rocket science either. Here are the first four things you need to do to successfully bring your business idea to life:
1. Bake it out
You wouldn’t embark on a road trip without a map nor should you embark on a business without a blueprint. An alternative to creating a long-form business plan is to build a business model canvas. A concise, one-page diagram of your business – a business model helps you quickly develop your idea and make initial assumptions. This step is essential in thinking through your idea, evaluating the potential market and highlighting risks and opportunities.
2. Validate the idea
Without spending much money at all, you can survey your potential market for interest and viability. These results can help you confirm to investors or a loan officer that your business isn’t just an imaginary idea. Check out Google Consumer Surveys to survey potential users. Use social tools, like Facebook or Twitter, to run small, targeted advertisements or surveys to get the hard data you need to determine how, or if, you should move forward with your idea.
3. Go public
It’s time to get the word out. That may mean building version 1.0 or creating a simple website to generate interest. I recommend WordPress for app prototyping. Their platform is simple, yet extendable enough for semi-customization, with plugins available to create advanced functionality without being a web developer. Also, check out Unbounce or Webflow. For automated functionality, like simulating the signup process, see Zapier for a library of apps for email, billing, CRM and more.
4. Reach out
Through these steps, you’ll find “gotchas” that knock your business off track. Don’t be so married to your idea that you aren’t willing to make critical adjustments for success. Need help figuring out where to make those adjustments? Ask. In addition to blogs about female tech leadership, like Lioness Magazine, Women 2.0, Women Who Tech, or Women in Tech, find local small business events to network and knowledge share with fellow entrepreneurs. Also, look into incubators and accelerator programs targeted at helping women get their tech empires off the ground. Though most of these programs only admit certain applicants, you can join an accelerator like NewME to start getting the advice and feedback you need.
These steps will get you off the ground and provide your new venture with structure and vision. And you can quickly move through all of these activities for less than a $100 and a lot of elbow grease. Now, let’s roll up your sleeves and get started!