Starting a Company – Like Climbing Everest – Part II

February is going to be a month about really interesting (and hopefully) unique travel experiences – ideally shorter, more frequent posts.  It is also going to be a month when we will launch a social media movement around travel experience under the travelabulous brand.  More on that soon.

In the meantime, I should wrap up part 2 of the Everest post which I have already interrupted a couple of times.

The first part of this post was all about startup preparation. This post will focus on getting to market.

I am going to use the example of an Internet company here, but really, I think the principles apply to everything from opening a plumbing store to a coffee shop to alternate waste management to … well, everything I can think of …

Continuing with the guidance from mounteverest.net, let’s look at the actual climbing to the summit – or in the case of your business – reaching your ultimate goal for your company, whatever that may be.

Everest Climb

Do you have the “hills” mapped out for your new business?

So here is the process for reaching the peak:

1) Trek to BC 10 days
2) Arrival BC April 1
3) Climbing C1 April 7
4) Back to BC April 8
5) Climbing C2 April 11
6) Back to BC April 13
7) Climbing C2 April 17
8) Climbing C3 April 19
9) Back to BC April 20
10) Trekking down April 21
11) Back to BC April 26
12) 1st summit attempt May 1-7
13) Trekking down May 7-12
14) Back in BC May 13
15) Last summit attempts May 16-30

Wow! That is both a lot of steps and a lot of back and forth. Is it really like that for launching a company? I certainly think so.

Let’s break it down into the important tenets that I see from climbing the mountain that apply to a startup:

Climbing to BC (Steps 1 and 2). This is like your first product release. For those who follow the Lean Startup methodology by Eric Ries, this may be your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). In my opinion, this thinking can be a little dangerous as the words “minimum” and “viable” are fairly loaded, not to mention, if you are trying to disrupt a mature, crowded market like we are with travelabulous, you really better be able to please your potential customers in a pretty significant way. In any case, the really important part – whether you call it an MVP or not – is getting something into the market as soon as it is a product (or service) that creates value in the market. Don’t over-engineer this first release; only the market can tell you if you got it “right.”

Try new things without being committed to them (Steps 3-11). Although these steps don’t match exactly with your new company, I think the lesson is very close. That lesson? The market (the mountain) plays a very significant role in your success. Just like you need to ensure that you are fit to climb the mountain and that the weather and other factors are co-operating, you need to test your market continually without being committed to new features and offerings. Make sure you are continually testing them and only add them to your offering if the market is ready – both in terms of being willing to pay for it (economically ready) and that it really has the need you think you are fulfilling (the pain is significant enough for them to seek a solution).

Finally, be persistent for as long as your can (Steps 12-15). The market – like the mountain and Mother Nature – is going to be merciless at times, but you have prepared for this! Stick it out. Just always remember, your market defines the need, not you. You can come up with a solution for their problem that they could not have come up with, but the need (or problem) is definitely defined by them.

Well, I hope that metaphor helps.

Stay tuned for travel experience stories and please get ready to share your own.

’til next time … Kirk, out.

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