For me this is hypothetical, but for my good friend who's about to make the leap out of full time employment to self employment it is very very real. And so I will live vicariously and imagine what I'd do.
- build a business that can at a minimum support me before my year of savings has run out so that I can continue to build said business long enough affect real change and or make loads of cash
- I have enough money to sustain myself for the year, or to invest and sustain myself for less
- I love to program. I love to program, and specifically solve technical problems, so much that I focus on it to the detriment of other tasks. (like writing business plans, talking to users or bathing)
- I have a set of real technical hurdles to clear in order to have anything of value
- A good idea
- Mad programming skills
- Friends in medium places
(caveat that this is an hour's worth of dumping thoughts based on a few conversations and some latent thought) ;-)
My first steps:
- Set some very high level goals (these can change)
- Month 1 initial Product Plan is ready (see below)
- Month 1 website is up, domain is secured (even if a teaser)
- Month 2 delivering live usable software with weekly updates for the remainder of the year
- Month 3 gut check milestone - pull the plug or keep going?
- Month 4 gut check milestone - go alone or go big? do I need more money?
- Month 5 gut check milestone - pull the plug or keep going?
- Month 6 target - engaged user community is built and driving the backlog (uservoice)
- Month 6 target - marketing (adsense? viral? user communities?)
- Month 8 target - earn my first dollar
- Months 9 gut check - is this a venture someone would buy? should I start talking to those people?
- months 10-11 - rinse and repeat, drive drive drive
- Month 12 - profit!
- Make a workspace
- Seclusion, powerful machine, dual monitors, natural lighting, huge whiteboard, music and snacks
- block reddit.com from this network
- have a laptop available for games, surfing etc - try however possible to keep these separate
- Make a development environment
- Start building!
- For at least two days a week early on, or maybe a couple hours a day in the beginning besides building I would ALSO do the following.... (Product Plan)
- Write myself a short Vision and Scope document which would include:
- The elevator pitch, preferably in a single sentence which I would then post on a wall in my workspace
- The high level guiding principles for the need I'm trying to solve, how I'll translate that into some revenue (not overly specific), who I'm targeting, who my competitors may be and what the biggest risks are.
- I would do this loosely, but I would do it. Just the act of looking and solidifying my direction would be motivating.
- Build a backlog of features, ideally written in the style of "As a <<user>> I want <<to do something>> so that <<some value>>"
- Make a persona or two or three based on the largest value user segments
- Pick one persona who I can deliver something of value to
- Prioritize my backlog with this user type in mind, and work backwards to find the minimum viable product that could actually be used by a user. This is my first milestone.
- Look for ways to accelerate getting to revenue sooner.
- Look around for ways to extend the 12 months without too much distraction (grants etc)
- Network network network. A lot of my milestones might be easier with help. Socialize that I'm up to something even if I'm not giving away the secret sauce.
- Force myself to join some local developer user groups that align to my technology choices
- force myself to attend some tech talks and socialize with other technologists
- guarantee that at least some evenings are spent away from my work
- Refer to my 12 month road-map on a weekly basis. (Monday morning when I'm slow)
- Change it whenever
- Where will I deploy? How will I deploy? I only have two months before it needs to be live in some form so figure that out.
- Will finding my initial target user be difficult? Start hunting early
- What questions will I need to ask in order to answer my gut check milestones? Ask those early.
- Are there components I should look to buy or rent rather than build? How do those align to my backlog?
- How could I accelerate delivery of features? Can some things be outsourced? Should my backlog be altered to allow my investment decision in month four?
- What else might I need to make a go big decision in month four? Do I need a more formal business plan? Do I need to incorporate?
- Continue to build like mad!!