Osman Mia
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So You're Founding a Startup

Do these three things before you finalise your business plan

11 May 2020
n the middle of 2018, I had a choice of continuing with my comfortable (albeit unsatisfying) job at a large petroleum corporation. But I chose to leave because, deep inside, I had always wanted to start my own venture studio, and I then formed Mia Niaga.

I did my research on startups, had a consultant to advise me and got family members to assist me. Some things we did by trial and error. The first few ideas we focused on didn't do well and had to be scrapped.

What we've learnt is that there are three things you should do before you finalise your business plan and seek seed funding, if seeking funding is your intention.

These three things is intended to give clarity to your new venture. Most new startups are unclear of their business direction. Unless you have done them, you are probably still groping around.

The three things are:

1. Decide your new market category

Setting a new market category is how you can either be the leader in that category or differentiate your business from others within the larget market category.

For example, "hydroponic farming" might be an existing market category, so to differentiate your business, you set your new market category as "large scale hydroponic farming."

Read about the four types of business strategies

2. Decide Your MTP

Your MTP (or Massive Transformative Purpose) is the change that you want to bring about, something that is of benefit to your customers. It is like your battle cry. It is something like a tagline, except it has to be specific and clear.

For example, your MTP might be that consumers deserve "fresh, healthy produce at standard prices."

3. Produce a Successful MVP

An MVP (or Mininum Viable Product) starts with idea which the startup turns into an early products, like beta versions of the final products. It can take a while before a startup finds its first MVP, because it usually takes some trial and error.

In the example of hydroponic farming, you could develop your MVP by performing hydroponic farming at home, packaging and branding the produce as Orgaveggors, and selling the produce at a nearby store. If you are able to sell successfully for a period, you could consider your MVP a success.

Putting Them Together

You want to be able to say to your customer: "My market category is the key to my MTP and it is achievable only through my product."

For example: "Large scale hydroponic farming is the key to fresh, healthy produce at standard prices and it is only available through produce from Orgaveggors." Orgaveggors being the brand name.

Prior to the MVP, the statement is still an idea which your business is acting on. If the first product idea proves unsuccessful, you would refine it or proceed with the next product idea, until you get a viable product.

Once you have a successful MVP, you can then finalise your business plan and include inside it the lessons learnt from the MVP and your plans to expand the business.

After we implemented the three things as part of our SOP, we found that we have a better feel for the viability and potential of our new business ideas. Preparing a business plan is a lot of work. By knowing the viability of the idea before preparing the business plan, we save time and money.



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