Many of you have asked me what process I use when working with a startup. There’s a lot of literature about it and can be daunting for a founder to decide what s/he should do. So I decided to share my mentoring tool kit with you.

Is it possible for a founder to do everything alone? There’s not a right or wrong answer, it depends on the team and the connections they have.

I strongly suggest that you find at least an advisor that can support you in the starting phase. It may be an accountant, an entrepreneur or a manager. Maybe they don’t know the startup methodology, but they have a lot of business experience they can share with you. You’re not alone, even if you feel that nobody in your circle can help you, but you have to go out of your comfort zone and start networking with new people.

Start here

If you’re just starting from an idea or have already put your foot in the water, there are some basic steps you can’t skip if you want to be successful.

  • Italy domestic law on innovative startups: you can find a summary here.
  • Market Analysis: it consists mainly of demographic analysis, value and size assessment and identification of your target market. You can read more in my previous post here.
  • Competition: I know, you’re thinking I don’t have competitors! My product is so innovative that there are no substitutes on the market. I’m sorry, but most probably you were not able to identify your existing competition. Start with following my suggestions here.
  • Entry barriers and product regulations. I’ve talked with too many founders that totally dismissed the product certification as something that was the only responsibility of their suppliers. Sorry again, but if you’re selling a product on the market, you’re accountable too, even if you bought the single parts from certified suppliers.
  • Value Proposition: what, can’t customers see themselves the value of my product or service? My product is wonderful, new, choose your adjective, and it will sell by itself. Unless there are some situations of real scarcity and monopoly, in a free market with the competition you’re destined to fail.
  • Financials and funding needs. You have your expenses list (investments and operational) and some projections of revenues for the next 3 years. You’ll probably need some funding to validate your idea or start your production.
  • Idea Validation: you made your assumptions and you remember what they say. If you assume you make an ASS of U and ME. So let’s start by verifying if what we think is really what our customers want. But also if you’ve positioned your price right and have a sustainable business model. Interviews, surveys, landing pages, and ads are the most common way of validation.
  • Channels and communication strategy. If you’ve done your job right on the previous items, now it’s time to start reaching your potential customers.

Tools you should use

There are many tools that can guide you and are internationally acknowledged as must-haves for every founder:

  • Business Model Canvas (BMC) or Lean Model Canvas
  • Value Curve
  • Value Proposition Canvas
  • Javelin Board
  • Business Plan
  • Pitch Deck (aka Investor Deck)

While you can download many of them for free, again, it’s not easy to use them without a guide. But if you have followed the steps I suggested above, you probably have gathered a lot of data to analyze. I have listed the tools in chronological order; however, following the lean approach, you have to iterate the whole process until you find your fit.

Do you know that I offer very competitive packages to validate your idea?