So, we are starting a business

My siblings and I have decided to start a business. We have a few products in mind and an unbridled drive to be productive that we are hoping will spell success! I want to invite you to follow along as we figure out the steps it takes to start a business and how we get our product from concept to market. So here we go!

The very first thing we did was talk through our product ideas. That seems obvious, but it’s a step I encourage all of you to take. When I say we talked through our ideas, I mean we really discussed each product in great detail and picked two that made the most sense to try first. Doing this one thing was important because it sets the stage for organizing the sprints we will take to move our ideas forward.

Let me take a minute to discuss what a sprint is. This one habit will be very helpful in moving your business forward. In my full time job, I play many, many roles. One of them is project manager and business/product developer for the products that company produces. I am bringing to the table several years of experience that I HOPE will help us as we are creating a business of our own. You might also find this process helpful. It’s easy to incorporate and really keeps the wheels on the track.

At my full time job, I practice a project management method called Agile. Its an alternative project management style to the traditional waterfall method, that is more iterative and allows for adaptability of a project as it moves along the development cycle. An agile project is broken out into sprints that are usually 2-week intervals. Each sprint focuses on solving one goal but don’t let that scare you. I don’t mean that we pick a goal of “build the product” and then only have two weeks to scramble around to get that done. That would be overwhelming and probably result in a very poorly built product. A “goal” for a sprint can be a much smaller piece of the puzzle. The team can focus on one goal together or each team member and have their own goals for a sprint.

An example of a sprint might be, setting a goal of filing the paperwork needed to start a business. So the first sprint might only be 1 week and might need input from all members to complete. The sprint would include the research on how to file a business license, deciding on a name for the company, gathering the necessary information needed, raising the funds needed to pay for the process, and submitting the application. That sprint might start with a kickoff meeting to go over who will work on what and then include a 5 minute check in meeting (by text if that’s what works or on a group call, etc.) every day to see what has been done and what remains to be done. Participants can voice concerns, questions and needs as the sprint progresses so that everyone is informed and has had input along the way. The “goal” is complete by the end of the sprint and at that point it’s time to choose the next goal to focus on for the next sprint of the project.

Using sprint cycle helps manage project roadblocks because you are able to adapt the next sprint to meet the needs or obstacles observed in the current sprint and there are never any big “gotcha” moments that could derail progress. I’ll go into more detail about Agile in another post but for now I wanted to encourage you to give your project a little structure right up front by setting some small, achievable goals and executing sprints to help mark them off the list.

Now, back to my initial meeting with my siblings/business partners. We spent a few hours in person over a couple of beers and then a couple weeks in texts going over our ideas. Some of the questions we asked and tried to answer are below. Remember we decided on two distinct products to start with.

  • What does it look like?
  • What materials we are hoping to use?
  • How will people use this?
  • Who are our customers?
  • What variations should we offer?
  • How is it shipped?
  • Do we offer it in stores or only online?
  • How much do we charge?

After spending some time on each of these questions, we were able to create our first set of sprints to propel us forward.

Our first sprint was to file paperwork to form an LLC and become equal partners in the business. That process was simple and I’ll cover that in the next post. We are now set to do business together and will be able to file taxes accordingly. Moving on to our next phase soon. Stay tuned.