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Starting an online startup?

Are you looking to start an online venture? Perhaps you have an idea and need to figure out how best to get it going, how to get started from the blocks?

While working on SafeText.com, I had to figure out how the software development industry worked, how to work with a design team and more importantly, how to put it all together into some sort of vision.

I took time this evening to reply to an email from someone who asked for some advice in getting his venture started. Whether your online venture is a media project or a service, perhaps some of these suggestions will help:

1. The first step is the most important step. You need to put all your ideas down on paper. Write a website/design spec outlining exactly how you would see the website working. Put down everything about the website that you can imagine, including examples of development/design that you have already seen, as this will allow perspective developers/designers to ‘get inside your head’ about the project.

With this you can go to software/website developers and get a quote on your project. You should get as many quotes as you can. Every ‘free’ quote will give you feedback on what what will work, what won’t work, what you shouldn’t have, and what you need to have. If you manage to get 4/5 quotes, that’s about 3/4 hours of ‘free’ consultation on your project. The idea here is to get an outline of what cost is involved in your site. Perhaps you will have to limit some of your features to save cost or perhaps you’ve forgotten an important feature that you’ll have to include.

2. I recommend going to get some quotes free lance developers next. Free lance developers are highly skilled people who are on the look out for new projects to work on either full-time or in the background of their current work. They can offer a good rate and can work with you one-to-one. However, you need to be flexible with your time and remember that they may only be taking on the project part-time.

3. You then need to look at how the design of your site will work. Again go get some quotes for designers and see what feedback you get. Getting a design team to do a wireframe/mockup/final desing can cost you alot but there are options. You can find some cheap designs and templates that are of excellent value on the likes of ThemeForest.net. I went to a design team for SafeText, and although we have gotten a lot of credit for the design of our website alone, ThemeForrest could have been a cheap and high value alternative. (You would simply give the template files to our developer and let them do their magic).

4. Now you need to decide on how you get your content together. Ideally you should have figured this out before you engage with software/website development and design but what I mean is that you need to come up with a strategy on how often you will post new content/videos/features/newsletters etc. Little but often will allow you followers to be constantly engaged. (More on this another time I think)

5. Then I guess, you just have to go do it. Choose the best quote from your collection, but remember that the best people for the job may be worth the extra penny.

Best of luck!

What do you think? Did I give a good overview of the startup challenges?