Are you prepared for what comes after the lightbulb moment? Our project manager Nathalie Marquez Courtney shares some insights.
One of the most fun and exciting things about working at MiniCorp is getting to meet entrepreneurs and discussing their ideas for their product. We’ve had a lot of those meetings in the past few weeks and months, and I’ve spotted some trends that can have a huge impact on how quickly those products get launched. If you are in the process of developing an app idea, here are some critical questions to ask yourself before a line of code is written.
How available are you – really?
Constant communication is oxygen for a successful new product. Our core ethos here at MiniCorp dictates that if a product is to become successful, it requires passion and dedication from both sides. It’s not simply a case of handing over your idea and walking away. We must operate as a close team – and this means you, as the chief visionary for your product, have to be readily available for meetings, discussions, decisions, and sign off. A lot of the startup founders that we are lucky to call clients are phenomenally busy; some are out there trying to get their product into the world, others still have full-time jobs, others are on and off planes several times a week, but the ones who get the needle moving are the ones who have decided to be core part of their own product team. If days go by without you responding to requests or making a key decision, momentum slowly begins to grind to a halt and your product suffers.
Do you understand the problem?
Finding a problem, validating it, seeing how the market is currently dealing with it and determining whether they are willing to pay for a solution is the building block of your product – and being able to clearly articulate this is equally valuable. Do you know your target audience? Can you define the current bad solutions? General Assembly penned a great post on how to write the best problem statement for your start-up which is essential reading during early stage development. But it isn’t just about perfecting your elevator pitch; it’s hugely valuable to your development team, and in those early meetings where you are defining how your product will work, look and feel.
Have you factored in planning time?
In the excitement and hunger to get going, it can be so tempting to push to dive in and start building, but that’s a mistake that can end up costing you untold amounts of time and money in revisions as your development team spend days, weeks or months redoing work. Clearly defining the problem (see above) and deciding – as a team – on precisely what is to be built is actually the trickiest part of the whole process. As the old saying goes, "if you don’t have time to do it right once, how will you find the time to do it twice?”
Our senior developer Steve recently shared this gem of a resource on the requirements gathering process, and I’ve been reading and re-reading it, looking for ways on how we can improve how we do things.
What can you learn?
Here at MiniCorp, we have worked with many talented entrepreneurs who weren’t tech-savvy programmers. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer them is to learn as much as possible about the software development process. What is a wireframe? What should you expect from a wireframe and what is certain not to be included? You don’t have to code to know why a certain feature functions in a certain way. The better equipped you are to make key decisions, the stronger your product will be.
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