Dodge this software development trap to avoid the startup graveyard

There’s a sneaky myth that plays a big role in the high startup failure rate.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, and what’s worse, there are “experts” in the startup space that – well-meaning as they may be – will lead you right into it.

It’s the “build it and they will come” myth.

Many early-stage startups believe – or are led to believe – that one of the first things they need to do is hire a software developer to build their first MVP. 

Founders are often told it’s the most important thing – that they should prioritise building a Minimum Viable Product, “launch” it, and then find customers. 

This pervasive belief is one of the primary causes of startup failure and almost always leads you to the startup graveyard. 

So, if you’re creating a SaaS solution, and it’s a mistake to build your MVP as a first priority, then what should you be doing instead? 

To avoid wasting tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on a software developer who might build you the wrong thing… 

And before you hire a marketer or sales person to try to market/sell that wrong thing, you must do the following: 

  1. Validate that there is a market segment with a “pants-on-fire” problem that this solution fits.
    (A “pants-on-fire” problem is one that a group of people would pay to have solved right now as it is very painful for them.)
  2. Build a mockup (using Figma or other prototyping tool).
  3. Conduct user research (using your mockup) to gather feedback.

To be able to effectively test and prove (or disprove) you have a pants-on-fire problem, it’s also critical to build core skills in your early-stage startup, including:

  • Research skills to validate that the opportunity exists
  • Networking skills so you can meet relevant people in the ecosystem and form relationships with potential customers
  • Listening skills and the ability to actively question customers to get vital feedback
  • Perseverance skills when looking for customers willing to help you and doing the research with them
  • Analysis and pattern-matching skills to get to the core of what your customers are telling you
  • Team and project-management skills so you can effectively manage and guide your software developer once you engage them 

Sharpening these “generalist” skills as a founder will not only allow you to properly validate a market segment with a pants-on-fire problem that you can create a profitable solution for, but it’ll also enable you to work effectively across all areas of your business.

What’s more, hiring other “generalists” builds the depth and capability of your team, meaning your team members know how to pivot to where they are needed the most at any given time.

In Summary…

Avoid hiring a software developer until you:

  • Have a really clear understanding of exactly who your early-adopter customers are 
  • Know for sure what their pants-on-fire problem is, and
  • Have validated a solution concept with that market segment

That way, when you’re ready to engage a software developer (or other specialist), you have a much better understanding of what you need, what “good” looks like, and whether that specialist has what it takes to contribute to your startup effectively.

This is how you spend your time and money wisely early on and how you make sure you get the right MVP built so you can get to the next stage of your journey without running out of cash and hitting a dead end. 

If you’re a founder navigating the early stages of your startup journey and you’re not sure what to do before building your product, we can help. Fill out this short questionnaire, and we’ll get in touch to help you with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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