Startup Projects

In the next couple of posts, we’ll explore a straightforward formula for starting a business or running a successful project. You may wonder how starting a business or running a project are similar endeavours. Both a project and starting a company require you to state a clear goal of what you want to accomplish, engage the right stakeholders, and ensure that you can hand-off a process-driven operational solution that works when you have completed the project (or startup phase.)

Starting a business and running a project requires a simple formula: 

  1. Find a group of people to observe
  2. Determine the maximum amount of money that they are willing to pay to solve a problem
  3. Calculate the extent of the impact that you can make from the group that you have selected
  4. Decide whether you want to proceed with the project or business.

How This Works (And a Disclaimer)

Even though I speak with confidence, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is a quick-and-easy formula that works every time. I am proposing this formula because I am learning about understanding the market need first. Rather than creating a product and then finding a market for it, the structure proposed in this post echos Peter Drucker’s assertion that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. If your goal is to create a customer, then an approach like Steve Blank’s Customer Development model will help you ensure that you are solving the problems that customers really want you to solve. Starting with the customer isn’t an easy approach or even a common one, and my disclaimer is that I am learning with you when it comes to applying this knowledge.

But What About Projects?

A project seems different than a startup, but in many ways, it isn’t. We get caught in the trap that if the sponsor (usually an executive) says that the project should move forward, then we can be confident that it will succeed. Delivering a project means that you are creating a unique product, service, or result. No matter what happens in your project, you will be providing the result to someone. These people are the “customers” of the project. There are many ways that people can buy into, or opt-out of, your project. If stakeholders don’t adopt the change the project is trying to bring about, then you haven’t delivered something that solves a problem that they have. 

Apply the formula we discuss in the next two posts as a foundation for delivering successful project change or business beginnings. In the future few posts, we will focus on how to apply the formula to a new business, but you can translate the same concepts into the project work that you are doing.