Business Development · Business Strategy

Let's say I have an idea for a online business..

Ben Stuart Founder & CEO of the next big idea.

July 21st, 2019

and although, I do not know much of anything about web development, or anything to do with starting a business, I just can't get the idea out of my head that I want to go down this road. What do you recommend to start taking this seriously, and by turning an idea into a reality?

Andy Hoebeke Web dev also into apps, machine learning, devops

July 21st, 2019

Validate your idea first :)

- draw the website you have in mind, or the app, on paper.. Various screens, one per page (or fold blank sheets of paper 2-3 times to get smaller size "screens" to draw in)

- turn these sketches into an interactive image prototype (google "interactive prototype with flinto", it's one of the easiest tools I know of),

- show it to a few friends or potential users, let them navigate your app or site, without or with few comments, see if they "get it".

- If they're interested, ask if they'd be willing to pay for it etc.

Optional step, can be done after a first ugly coded prototype: If that seems fine, then send those sketches to a freelance designer, ask him/her to turn this into something a bit more decent.

Send to a developer and ask him/her to make a prototype :)

Or learn to design and code, at that point :)

Jay Root Sales and marketing focused professional. Work with large brick and mortar and ecommerce retailers

July 23rd, 2019

I’ve been suffering from this issue for 10 years. The issue being having an idea (unproven to be described as “great” idea) yet not knowing what to do with it.

After reading anything I can get my hands on, talking with others that have been down this path and working with others that provide outside voice of reason for me here’s what I’ve learned.

First step: clearly articulate to others—namely those that would pay you for your product—what your product is and the value proposition. Here youll learn if there’s something like what you proposed already in the market (and possibly a competitive advantage you can offer) and/or if there’s a need For your product.

Once s you have gone through this phase comes the hard part (at least for me)— design the business. Every aspect of the business—your costs, what yoi charge, how you’re going market and sell, who’s going to buy, what resources you will need, projections/benchmarks, etc.

this part is necessary as It shows others You’re committed and know where you are going. When you know where you’re going it’s far easier to sell your product and attract people to work with you (As well as attract initial capital from a bank or outside investor)

Once you have done those two steps then you can look at initial capital and getting the minimum viable product to market.

I hope this helps. These preliminary steps are very hard. But essential to help you build out your business, see if you really love the business and if there’s a market for it.

Best of luck

John Bilicki III Able to dramatically improve the entire landscape of the web with the right business connections.

July 21st, 2019

Seriously, learn to code.

If you have no redeemable skills you will very quickly find yourself homeless and loitering outside the building of the company you started...all those years ago.

Most importantly you absolutely must know code and for that I have a few recommendations:

  • If you don't know the politics that are involved then you do NOT know what is involved. Stay with open source server scripting languages and open source databases; I'd recommend PHP (JavaScript is not appropriate for server-side scripting), MariaDB and using HeidiSQL to connect, view and manage MariaDB (which is based on MySQL but without being very slowly killed off by Oracle and it's competing database). Setting up an Apache HTTP server is dead simple and don't worry about HTTPS (TLS which superseded SSL) on http://localhost/.
  • Learn to code pure code (do not use frameworks and libraries). It may seem counter-intuitive however a dependency is a weakness, not a strength! Eventually you'll get sucked in to the world of "someone-else coded that" and you'll be constantly in need of other people instead of having figured it out yourself.
  • Learn to code dynamic instead of static. CSS layouts and JavaScript functions in example. Does your page layout utilize the full width of the screen be it at 4K or on a 360 pixel wide vertically held phone? Does your script only do one set function and can't handle anything else?
  • Learn to code strict instead of loose. Serve XML (application/xhtml+xml) instead of text/html (you can and should still use HTML5). Run JavaScript and MariaDB in strict mode. It may seem like a pointless pain though you'll realize that what the system is bothering you about eliminates security issues.
  • Your code should know the difference between the local (localhost) environment and live environment and automatically adapt.
  • Your code should ultimately serve a business purpose, nothing should be cool for the sake of being cool.
  • All code should be direct logic, never implied! Implied logic is much more subjective to interpretation and is in absolutely every single case I've encountered dead wrong.
  • Use the strict modes of everything to look at error messages. Understand HTTP as a standard (HTTP 200, ok, HTTP 404 file not found, 401 not authorized (not signed in) versus 403 forbidden (signed in but do not have permissions regardless).
  • Understand how JSON can and should be used between client and server for communication purposes.
  • Learn SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE in SQL and you've covered 50% of the basics. Learn how to INNER/LEFT JOIN two tables and you're up to 80%. You can learn that in literally one day flat.
  • Use proper English and be strict about things such as three periods for an ellipsis. These things seem small though how you hold yourself is how you will be regarded so hold yourself to higher standards.
  • Standards are only the baseline, we can and should always do better.
  • Text browser engines, not browsers. Gecko (Waterfox/Firefox), Blink (Chrome), WebKit (Safari), Presto (Opera, original, do not bother with new Opera, Chrome clone), Trident (Internet Explorer and the IE rebrand "Edge").
  • Be wary of loose politics (e.g. is only a relative resource and will list APIs as being fully supported when they are only partially supported).
  • Learn psychology (understand biases, yours and other people's), economics, philosophy and science. Draw to ideas, not people and then once you have refined those ideas then use them to help people.
  • You must know thy hardware! Disable the pagefile on your operating system and run an SSD (preferably and NVMe). Always have enough RAM installed, more than you actually use.
  • Run a RAID 1 (never a RAID 0) and keep your system cloned. Restoring your system in one or less via a clone (versus three days for me if I have to install from scratch) is economics. Time is much more valuable than the money spent on "spare hard drives".
  • Version your software! Set realistic goals for each version 1.0. Do not emulate stupidity (e.g. how Mozilla emulated Chrome with constant releases once every 42 days). That's dumb and serves no objective purpose and makes everyone's lives more difficult.
  • Minimize your expenses! Do not drink, smoke, do drugs or waste energy on women not worth your time. If a woman is worth your time then she will support you knowing that long term gain is more important than short term happiness though that is not an excuse to ignore her if you are already in an relationship.
  • Work every single frigin day but not all day long. Find your circadian rhythm's natural beat and make sure you have some income to cover your expenses. Are you better at working an average of six hours a day and work a part time job for four to six hours? Then do that. Are you able to stare at a screen and stay productive for 12 hours straight? Work three 12 hour shifts and code the rest of the week. Figure out how you are most productive and engage like you're captaining the last star ship the defend Earth against the Berg!
  • Know when criticism is useful and when it's just stupid emotional based stupidity. If someone sucks but has a good point adapt it accordingly while discarding the attached suck of their personality.
  • Be grateful to the few people who will actually bother to help you.
  • Always pay back legitimate debts! Always pay back the legitimate parts of semi-legitimate debts and never ever under any circumstance pay an illegitimate debt in any form shape or fashion!
  • Do not involve anyone unless they absolutely are dedicated and their communication skills are absolutely spot on! They return your phone call within a couple hours unless a long/important meeting or are in the hospital (or you're calling knowing they are asleep).
  • Do not spend a lot of time on early projects. Get to the minimally viable project quickly to get a version finished and don't worry about selling at any level at version 1.0.
  • Know thy market: if there is no demand then there is no point.
  • You will have to educate your market presuming you go the smart route and build a better widget.
  • If a law does not protect one person's natural rights from infringement then that law is itself illegal and can be ignored. Keep in mind that fascists will attempt to enforce illegal laws (pseudo-laws) so do not go around talking-trash in general.
  • Network and get to know people. You will need to know code though you will also need to know people. What you know is important, who you know is important, having both is critical.
  • If you really want to make it big do not take money from investors/seeds/etc.
  • Know thy media: audio/video/image editing is important and should be something you have at least moderate experience with when you're closing in on market viability.
  • Use the tools available to you whether you are aware of them or not (my main tool bookmark folder has over 50 tools, this does not include software applications).
  • If you know the market needs what you have and is not already flooded with quality solutions then ignore doom-says...otherwise adapt the idea and see if you can improve enough that you think you can convince people.
  • Do not trust people if you do not understand/comprehend their long term ambitions and whether or not they are ultimately cooperative, hostile or indifference to you and your aspiring business.
  • When you're wrong you're wrong, your value is what will earn your success, not your ego.
  • Be visible and engage with your fans.
  • Learn from other people's mistakes as much as possible.

If you want to learn quality code look up the JAB Creations web platform. A lot of stuff is documented there and it'll give you a strong start to moving in the right direction in part. Good luck!

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

July 21st, 2019

Without knowing what your idea is, it's hard to give any concrete advice, only generic and not very helpful ones. So, the first thing you should do is to start describing your idea in details to whoever wants to listen. Sooner or later you'll stumble upon someone who can give you a helpful advice or even join you as a co-founder. If you fear that doing so will result in someone "stealing" your idea, then you're not ready to be an entrepreneur. I know it sounds strange, but it's true.

Now for some generic advice:

1. Having an idea isn't enough - you will need to contribute something to its implementation as well, or you will become a fifth wheel in your startup. Since, as you say, you can't contribute coding or bizdev, then perhaps you can do the marketing part, bringing clients/users in, either by direct marketing or by leveraging your social network or something. If you have some money you don't need, you can contribute as a self-investor, hiring people to do whatever is needed.

2. Either way, you'll need co-founders, but having just an idea is unlikely to convince anyone to join. So, first you will need to create what's called an MVP (minimum viable product) and get real customers to use it or, ideally, even pay for it. Nothing shuts up critics and gets people on board like saying that you already have paying customers. Don't worry about development - if you do it right, you can make a low-tech MVP even for what seems like a high-tech product, and your customers might not even feel the difference. You'd be amazed how often the most complex ideas can be make-shifted into a working product in minutes without any programming experience. But again, I can't help you design such an MVP unless I know exactly what your idea is. No one can.

Ankush Bedadun Graduate in Software development.

July 21st, 2019

what's your idea about? you can send me a dm if you want to talk about it. I'm a web dev /software engineer and i'm willing to help if you want help.

Alex H Always tinkering, always building.

July 21st, 2019

Idea: Ask your target user/customer if what you want to build is something they actually want, and if so, what features they might prefer. You don't absolutely need to do this before you're building (I don't know how well your idea maps to a need), but you should do it as early as possible (in my opinion). Do a bit of market research as it were. And don't worry about someone stealing your idea - I think the idea that "ideas are cheap", and that it all really comes down to execution is a good rule of thumb.

Web Development: Having "an idea for an online business" is obviously extremely vague. But if you can get started with a website that can handle content and e-commerce, then on the no-code side of things you have Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, and Shopify. You also have tools like Typeform, Airtable, Zapier, and so much more that will let you get crafty, automate, and mimic more complex services. At the very least you can leverage these things to make an MVP. If it's something that requires a more complex/robust tech stack, then that can quickly turn into another conversation.

Without more info, it's difficult for anyone here to give good advice. To think or talk about anything more technical, or finding a co-founder, or getting funding, or any of the topics that start getting slung around in relation to businesses is a bit premature, if not irrelevant. My advice is to just start. If there's something you want to build, start building it.

Amy Zwagerman Founder, The Launch Box

July 21st, 2019

This really is far to generic a question for anyone to give you specific advice, but, along with vetting your idea through anyone who will listen and getting an MVP ready to test, my advice is to learn more about the specific type of online business you want to start. For example, if you do a quick google search about starting an e-commerce store, you will find there are numerous platforms out there that make it easy for anyone to launch a store. Same goes for an app in that you’ll find numerous articles for how to go about getting an app developed. By doing this little bit of due diligence you’ll get a sense of both what a few people think about your idea and what needs to be done to get to the MVP stage ... and then you’ll be ready to start down the path to making it a reality.

Eric Gaze

Last updated on July 22nd, 2019

I'm with Andy - validate your idea as painlessly / cheaply as possible with simple paper prototypes and talking to customers.

(side note: these aren't just my ideas - this is what we use at Intuit and they're well-covered in The Lean Startup - basically the bible for startups. Def worth reviewing).

Here's a few good videos of others doing this:

That should help get your ideas onto paper and able to be reviewed for less than $5 in materials. Plus, when you want to make changes, again, it's super easy, as it's just pen and paper. If you want to make changes with a developer, it's going to take hours, if not weeks, at $30/hr minimum.

Also, I'd recommend you write out the assumptions your idea requires; stuff like:

  • There's a market for this business
    • the market's so big, that if I get 3% of it, I'll be financially ok
  • I can get users to this website
  • I can build this website OR I can find someone who can
  • This business is legal in my state / country
  • This business can be profitable and provide me with a livable wage
  • I can do this myself OR I will need help
    • If I need help, I can find help at a reasonable cost

Then work through those assumptions, double checking that they're true.

If there's any you can't easily prove to be true (aka: with a quick google search), how can you prove them? What tests can you run to prove them?

It takes a lot to start a business and the more you can do on your own (at least at the beginning) the more time and money you can save, as cash is king. If you have the money, it's always great to hire professionals, but you'll need to know what you need, so you can hire good people.

You'll need:

  • marketing / sales / customer service
  • web development / hosting
  • design
  • accounting
  • legal

Some resources I've used and liked for those:

- MARKETING - Facebook Ads or Google Ads. Udacity has a good class on this but it's a bit long. You might search "Google Keyword Planner" and watch how to's to use it to gauge your market size and what it would cost to reach your customers.

Also, has great tools for marketing, SEO, and all that. Their blog is full of good info.

- WEB DEV / HOSTING - I'm still working on this myself. The O'Reilly books come well-recommended. I started with Head First into HTML / CSS. There's online courses aplenty, too. I got too distracted with all of them though, and prefer the old school format of a book.

- DESIGN - You can check out or for great work and inspiration. Also pinterest can be ok for inspiration. But really, I would recommend just starting out super simple with wireframes to start (google what those are, if you don't know).

You can also google "human centered design" or "human computer interaction" for more info on designs and how to design.

But really, for an e-commerce site, there's probably a Wordpress template out there you can get for free or less than $100 that will suit your needs to get started. has good templates and free or cheap hosting.

- ACCOUNTING - You could use excel or Google Sheets if you want. I use quickbooks online, but it's a little more robust than I need. There's a bunch out there.

- LEGAL - I used for my LLC paperwork. It wouldn't hurt to talk to local businesses and maybe find a good local lawyer for other questions. I know there's sites where you can post legal questions and get answers for a $50 fee.

- MISC - I used to find almost all of my contractors. Also, is great for top quality web developers, but it's a bit expensive. (toptal is short for Top Talent - everyone listed there, both hirer and hiree has been vetted).

If you go the contractor route, I HIGHLY recommend using milestones, and spelling things out explicitly: The contractor will provide X on date Y, with dot dot dot included. Then 1/3 of the funds will be released.

I also highly recommend using a firm or company rather than a single freelancer for bigger projects. If you've sunk time and money into a project and all of a sudden, your freelancer stops returning your emails, it can be a NIGHTMARE. Having a company to work with means there's going to be someone else you can reach out to and they have some skin in the game. They can't just delete their profile and create another one after a bad review.

PODCASTS - I dig How I built This and Code Newbie as they both talk to real people doing real stuff.

I hope this helps. If you ever want to shoot the sh*t and talk business ideas or whatever, feel free to find me on linkedin or on here.

Good luck!

Dmitri Toubelis

July 21st, 2019

Your idea maybe just nothing or it may change the world. The only way to find out is to start doing it.

- Pitch your idea to few friend who can help to implement it. If you manage to convince them and they will be willing to invest their time then bring them on board as co-founders. There are very few people who will be willing to work for free on something on vaporware, so get any help you can.

- An idea by itself is worthless, only ability to implement it what matters, so keep this in mind when choosing co-founders - you goal is to make it happen.

- Your first target will likely be to create a first prototype and get feedback. If you are able to produce an MVP it is even better.

- Once MVP is ready, you should aim at get paid customers.

- Avoid bringing investments at early stages if you can. The right time for an investment is when you are ready to scale. However, it may be the opposite if your idea is really big (cold fusion, space travel, etc.) but if it is just another facebook killer app then you don't need much money to get started.

- Learn every lesson down the road, this is your capital. Even if you fail this time around, you will be a different person when you start your next project.

Good luck.

Johan Kok Founding Member & Chief Strategy Officer at Alpha Stål - Mining rock drill bits and other consumables... AND IoT

Last updated on July 21st, 2019

The biggest problem any technical minded entrepreneur has is to have a solution, for a problem that no-one else consider being a problem..... Avoid that, do your research, and solve a problem for which their would be a good sustainable demand... Which is easy for you to solved, but may not be so easy for someone else to solve

Do a business model for you business idea {look at business model canvas]

... and then test the idea an value proposition again.... if it is still go GO FOR IT --- miles better than any standard business plan