To get from idea to launch, startups take the time they take.
It’s really hard to accurately guess how long it will take to get a product, service, or new business up and running. That’s especially true if it’s never been done before. Sure, some organizations with really deep pockets can push things out the door lightning quick, but that’s not what we’re talking about, here.
To start off, I think it’s best to create identify the critical paths to launching something new.
You’ve had an idea. Great!
You call a dev shop or manufacturer and get pricing and timeline to develop your product. Awesome!
You take your shiny new product or service, pump it into the market and…crickets. Or worse, you launch your new product or service, people start to buy…and they hate it.
You, my friend, have skipped a terribly important and equally terribly inconvenient step in the startup process.
Test, test, and test some more.
While the first version of whatever you release into the world is certainly not going to look or feel the same as it will 3, 5, or 10 years down the road, that doesn’t give you excuse to release a crappy product.
Your MVP has to be, well, viable. It’s part of the name.
Of course, this can be a slippery slope. The “Minimum” part of MVP is really only talking about the scope. Your product should select the central, most important component it seeks to deliver, develop that component, and release it as the MVP.
The other components of your product or service can come later. We’re only concerned with the smallest useful part of the product or service that will get people to buy and use it.
And that smallest useful component had better be really good.
The first critical path for releasing a new product or service into the wild is to make sure that you have a high quality MVP.
“Runway” is a term that refers to how long you can operate without revenue, or in a cashflow negative state, and not go out of business.
On one end of this spectrum, you could have millions of dollars and investors tripping over themselves for a piece of your company. In that case, take all the time you need. Make a killer product or service. You’ve got a loooong runway.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve got $10k and that’s it, your runway is super, frankly, prohibitively short.
Most of us live somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. You may be to one end or the other, but where you are is less important than knowing where you are. Having an understanding of your runway will provide you with valuable insight into just how long you can afford to operate before you feel the revenue pinch.
The second critical path for startup timelines is runway: how long can you last without revenue?
The final critical path to understand when estimating how long it will take to get your startup into the market is your team.
Frankly, doing everything yourself sucks and takes forever.
On the other hand, having a robust team is expensive.
Understanding which critical roles need to be filled and which roles can wait to be filled is super important. If you know this, you can be aggressive in recruiting and get your idea moving along faster.
If you can’t afford a team, that’s ok, too. It’s just going to take you longer to get things done and to get your idea into the market.
The third critical path for startup timelines is team.
MVP, Runway, and Team. These are the three rate-limiting factors for start-to-launch timelines for new companies.
If you want to understand what kind of timeframe to launch your looking at or, better yet, what kind of velocity you need to aim for to get your product out the door, you should be looking at these three things.