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The Iterative Startup

You don't have to get yourself into debt for the things you need to launch a startup. You can start from zero and get off the ground organically. Divide the journey into phases, and use the successful completion of each phase to bootstrap the next.

I. Write a Roadmap

Start by envisioning where you want to end up, then plan what you need in order to get there. For example, you might want to end up with a registered trademark, employees, a legal corporation, and your own office building. You don't need to run out and try to obtain all four of these things on day one. Consider which things depend on others. For example, you could hypothetically get a registered trademark and employees before you form a legal corporation, but you might want to form the corporation before you purchase a building.

II. Align Phases with Milestones

Set a specific goal that you intend to accomplish with each phase. For example:
  • You might start in January, and set milestone in your roadmap, to raise $270 and register your trademark by the end of Phase I., in March
  • Your next milestone might be to raise $10,000 and employ your first few employees by the end of Phase II., in June
You might be able to earn a little income, without a registered trademark. Once you raise enough to register your trademark, you might be able to earn a little more, still working by yourself, but now using the registered trademark. After some time that boost might be just enough to start hiring employees.

III. Get Ready to Adjust

You can only roughly estimate how much you'll get done, and when. As you track your progress on the roadmap, you might find it will take longer to reach the next milestone than you anticipated. This is when you should have the courage to be honest with yourself, and pay attention to what you can learn from that situation. Then apply what you've learned to adjust future plans as you go.

For example, you might conclude it actually takes you longer than 3 months to earn $270 selling a certain kind of product, without a registered trademark. This kind of information can be useful for future reference, and maybe even to share with others.

So we can see, that you don't need to build straight from nothing to everything, all at once. You can divide the startup into phases, and create a roadmap with milestones for each phase. This way, you can be ready to focus on doing the things that make the most sense at each particular time.

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