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How-to guide

7 questions to ask before launching a techno startup

Dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur in technology? Are you enthralled with the world of connected objects, mobile applications or web platforms? Do you dream of disrupting an established business model or even the entire world?

Perfect! That's right up our alley.

Creating a technology firm means freedom to revolutionize an already well established domain, but one that is possibly outdated in today's world. It's like music to our ears!

TLM has accompanied numerous technological start-ups from all walks of life and sizes over the past 20 years. Below are the questions that we ask the entrepreneurs during our first meeting:

1. HAVE YOU SEARCHED ON GOOGLE, DUCKDUCKGO, ECOSIA, YAHOO, BING (IN SHORT, ALL SEARCH ENGINES). IN FRENCH AND ENGLISH?

It's a crucial step, even though it may seem arduous. It can be forgotten by many since it's such a simple step.

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A solution similar to your idea may not exist nearby, but may have been developed somewhere else on the planet. It's actually very probable, we've seen it happen!

The fact that something resembling your idea already exists is not the end of the world. It just means that you need to think of your product in a different light: How is your solution different from theirs? We'll get back to that a little later on.

Google can really make you put into question many different aspects.

2. DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN?

By this, we especially want to know if you've fully explored your thought process. Meaning to go beyond "I've got a great idea, let's do it!" Writing a business plan requires an in-depth thought process, no matter which form it takes (Lean Canvas business plan, comprehensive business plan, etc.). For us, it's the content that is king; the layout is secondary.

  • What problem are you solving?
  • Why is it a problem?
  • How will you solve it?
  • Who has this problem?
  • How will you describe it?
  • Why hasn't anyone thought of it before you?

But above all, the real question that your business plan must answer is: what is your source of income?

More precisely, the goal is to know how you'll benefit (literally) from your software solution.

  • Which business model will you use?
  • Will you offer subscriptions?
  • Will you distribute licences?
  • Will you initially offer your platform free of charge and then sell publicity to finance it?

Take the time to answer these questions. Ensure that the problem that you want to address with your solution is important and others will find it useful as well. It's unfortunately easier to fall in love with your idea than it is to go back and find things to correct when required.

3. WHO ARE YOUR MAIN COMPETITORS? HOW IS YOUR OFFER DIFFERENT FROM THEIRS?

Necessarily, after performing extensive research and identifying your main competitors (all documented in your business plan), you should be able to identify THE principal benefit that your customer will derive from your competition.

  • Why will people choose yours instead of another?
  • What will be your competitive advantages?
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Ask yourself why your product is unique and capitalize on it. With us, we're no longer in the "refinement" mode as the first step, but more in the "marketing" mode.

4. WHO DID YOU SPEAK WITH ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Discussing your idea with people in your entourage is a great way to start. They can offer suggestions and allow you to expand your thought process. Nevertheless, it's important to keep going after that.

You may think that you know your prospective clients, but have you discussed your solution with them? They're your #1 source for information. After all, they're more than able to tell you what they need.

It's important at this stage to listen more than talk. Take notes of all issues raised by your future client.

After your meetings, you should be able to actually answer the following questions:

  • Does your software meet an actual need? If so, what's the importance to precisely meet this need among the others raised by your client?
  • Is the solution viable on a long-term basis?
  • Which features provide the most added value for them?
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Remember to verify the price that your future customers would be willing to pay for a solution like the one you want to develop. You will then be able to plan for the operating costs versus your potential revenue.

Finally, it may prove to be extremely pertinent to discuss with other entrepreneurs or stakeholders in the entrepreneurial world. Find out more about the steps they've taken, in addition to their successes and failures. You'll assuredly be able to extract beneficial information.

5. HAVE YOU ANALYZED YOUR POTENTIAL GEOGRAPHIC MARKET?

Yes, performing market research can be a daunting task. Be careful, we're not talking about hiring a firm specializing in marketing to carry it out. Instead, we suggest to obtain an overall idea of the market you want to integrate.

Listed below is some key information to collect that you can easily find on the web:

  • Number of prospective clients
  • Their geographical distribution
  • Their main characteristics (size, turnover, etc.)
  • Presence or absence of a market sector association (and their number of members)
  • Exploration of the number of searches in this sector with Google Ads

This will ensure that you're fully aware of the business opportunities in your market sector.

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With a solid idea of what your clients are ready to pay, you're in business, as they saying goes!

6. CAN YOU COUNT ON A COMMITTEE ADVISOR OR MENTOR? HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF EXPERTS?

While search engine research is often overlooked, creating an advisory committee or finding a mentor is worth just as much if not more. Peer support is one of the most important aspects in running a successful business.

Being able to count on the advice of competent people who care about your success will most likely save you hassle and headaches. Discussing issues that arise with them along the way will certainly be part of your success.

Love of a mentor

Also keep in mind to surround yourself with people from different fields. It's unrealistic to think that you're an expert in management, accounting, programming, sales, marketing, etc., and that you'll have the time to do it all yourself. Learn how to surround yourself with passionate and professional people to develop your idea.

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Be careful though: Your mentor shouldn't be one of your investors. It's to better surround yourself with neutral individuals to avoid conflicts of interest. "It's business, not personal."

7. HOW DO YOU PLAN ON FINANCING YOUR PROJECT?

Several avenues are available for financing options when starting your business.

Initially, financing from prospective clients is the solution that we prioritize in all cases. Some will believe so much in your idea that they'll be ready to defray part of the development costs.

Then comes the love money. This means for the entrepreneur to obtain financing from their family and/or friends. These could be donations, cash loans, or capital investments. Either way, love money is an important springboard for finding other types of funding.

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Important: Remember to put the agreement in writing in order to begin on a clear basis and thus avoid disagreements.

There's also the possibility of calling for help from an angel. On the other hand, before doing so, we recommend that you have at least a prototype (i.e., the minimum viable product, commonly known as the MVP) to present.

There you have it! You've made it through our 7 key questions before launching you into the programming of your software-or-all-other-technical-idea. As a last word of advice before we finish; unleash your creativity and imagination! This is what makes starting a business in technology so very interesting.

Now, go and get your homework done!

Ready to launch into the adventure? Write or contact us by calling 1-877-896-4472.

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