For first-time entrepreneurs in Africa, finding what to do next after you get a “great” idea is not a clear path. You can research on the internet, or ask people you know to see what actions to take. There are thousands of people giving advice on how to go about transforming your idea into a successful business and most of them contradict each other. It’s like being in the middle of a maize field hearing voices from all directions claiming to be the way out but you are not sure which to follow.
Let’s cut through the noise and explore the LeanStart Africa approach.
When you have an idea, you need to first understand the problem it may solve. That is the root and the foundation. Though it is difficult, you almost must forget the idea and pursue and embrace the problem. The way to do that is to talk to those who will be your customers and who may need the solution you think you can offer. The first step is to identify which assumptions have to be true for your solution to be desirable. Here are some guiding questions:
- Who are the people facing this urgent problem?
- What problems do I believe my potential customers have and need solved NOW?
- How are they currently solving this problem?
You take these assumptions and questions to the groups of potential customers and listen to them. This is a beginning of a conversation with your potential customers that you will pick up time and time again as you develop your solution.
After this exercise, you should come away with much more clarity. You will either save time by moving on to something else or learn which adjustments you need to make and different questions to ask. You may also find that you’re on the right track which is exciting but does not mean that you are ready to accelerate ready to go to market or apply for funding.
Instead, you now want to ask yourself how you can put something in the hands of customers to see how well it solves their most important problems without incurring unnecessary costs. With the lean method, you want to eliminate as much risk as possible, in a time efficient manner without spending unnecessary money. A prototype is your answer. I am using the word prototype here to encompass any way to create a testable version of your solution. It will look different depending on whether your solution is a physical product, software or a service.
Now you go back to your customers again and ask for feedback to build or improve your product and seek the ultimate endorsement, receiving money for orders. At the very least, you will get information that will allow you to improve your solution offering.
Though having an idea that inspires you to take action is exciting, finding the next steps can be confusing. Each step ahead has specific learning to unlock by using different methods, activities and tools. This stretch of the entrepreneurial journey is very daunting for first time entrepreneurs in Africa. That is why our bootcamp is hyper focused on practical ways to learn and apply the steps to validate an idea to pave the way for a successful business. We unpack every step in this journey, teach entrepreneurs how to test assumptions with actionable assignments and how to measure your results in order to make informed decisions.