Towards a unified theory of starting up

Wired asked me to write something for the last issue about start-ups, aka that ol’ heartache. 

Here’s my attempt at a unified theory for starting up:

1. Find the people you believe you could build something amazing with. These are your cofounders.

2. Find something you love deeply that could be so much better. This is your market.

3. If you spent your lifetime on that thing, what could it become? This is your vision.

4. What is the smallest possible thing you could build that would test whether others agree? This is your minimal viable product.

5. Recruit the smallest team needed to build it. These are your seed investors and first hires. Be utterly ruthless about choosing people who share your values, vision and ambition level.

6. Build it and launch it. This is your first test.

7. Celebrate. It’s really important to do this. That was some intense stuff!

8. Tell some people that you think will care. These are the most important people in the world now, the first ever users of your product.

9. Is there anything about your product that your new users couldn’t live without? If not, return to step 4, it’s OK. If so, onward!

10. Improve that specific thing that they can’t live without. See if they start to tell their friends about how great it is.

11. Go back to step 3. Maybe it’s even bigger than you thought. If so, tell everyone in your team how so.

12. Figure out a way to make money that is aligned with what your users can’t live without.

13. Use that money to move faster towards your vision. This means making more users happier, faster.

14. Go back to step 3. Making something better is addictive. Doing it with the best people in the world, for something you love, is worth the heartache.