Start your Online Business

I see stars! I see future tycoons!

Mani Karthik - Start Your Own Online Business

You’re probably in your roaring twenties, armed with a billion-dollar idea (or at least enough to get those student loans paid off, am I right?), but you’re wondering, “How the heck do I turn this brilliant brainwave into a bustling business?”

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

I’m Mani Karthik, a startup enthusiast who’s been in the trenches from Silicon Valley to Bangalore, helping sprout ideas into full-blown enterprises.

Let me guide you through the maze of starting your online business, using less jargon and more plain speak, because, let’s face it, the world of entrepreneurship is already complicated enough.

Step 1: Validate Your Idea Like It’s Tinder!

Before you swipe right on your business idea, make sure there’s someone on the other end to match with it.

Market validation is your best friend here.

Talk to potential customers, get feedback, and make sure you’re not the only one who thinks this is a good idea.

Check out how Kunal Shah, founder of CRED, continually evolves his ideas based on user feedback.

It’s like updating your dating profile to keep it fresh!

What is Market Validation?

Market validation is essentially like dating your market—instead of flowers and dinner, you’re presenting your product and asking, “So, do you come here often?”

It’s about figuring out if there’s enough love for your business idea or if it’s destined for the “let’s just be friends” zone.

Market validation is essentially like dating your market—instead of flowers and dinner, you're presenting your product and asking, "So, do you come here often?"

Why Do Many Get It Wrong?

Assuming Rather Than Asking:

It’s like thinking you know your partner’s favorite ice cream flavor without ever asking them.
You might end up with two scoops of mint chocolate chip when they’re all about that vanilla life.

Early in my career, I was so excited about an app idea that combined social media with food delivery—I thought it would be a smash hit. Instead, it turned out I was more excited than anyone else. Lesson learned? Talk less, listen more.

Lack of Representative Feedback:

Asking your mom if your startup is a good idea isn’t going to cut it (spoiler: she thinks everything you do is great).

I learned this the hard way when I launched a service targeted at college students but only got feedback from my immediate friends, who, guess what, just told me what I wanted to hear!

Ignoring Cultural Nuances:

India isn’t just one market; it’s a mosaic of them. A product hitting it off in Pune might get totally ignored in Patna.

I once marketed the same trendy tech gadget in both cities. Pune loved it, Patna didn’t care. It was like showing up to a metal concert with a sitar—wrong audience, buddy!

Overemphasis on Product vs. Solution:

This is like focusing on having a flashy car rather than ensuring it can get you from point A to B.

Customers look for solutions, not just shiny objects.

I remember pitching an intricate, feature-rich app to potential customers, who ended up being confused about what problem it actually solved.

How to Do Market Validation Right?

  1. Conduct Surveys and Interviews:
    Get out there and ask real, hard questions—don’t just rely on your gut feeling. Think of it as running a reality show where your product is the contestant. Will it survive the elimination round?
  2. Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP):
    It’s like the first draft of your novel. It doesn’t have to win the Booker Prize; it just needs to tell you if the plot works. An MVP helps you understand if your business novel is going to have fans or if it’s better off unpublished.
  3. Utilize Social Media and Online Forums:
    These platforms are the modern town square. Pitch your tent, shout about your product, and see who stops to chat. It’s a less creepy way of eavesdropping on your customers’ needs and desires.
  4. Analyze Competitors:
    Keep your friends close and your competitors closer. Watching them can teach you what to do, what not to do, and how to do it better. I once saw a competitor fail because they ignored user feedback—best lesson I didn’t have to pay for.
  5. Pilot Programs:
    They’re like your product’s first day at school. Nervous, yes, but it’s a safe space to learn and grow.

Remember, market validation isn’t about proving you’re right; it’s about not being wrong in the most expensive way.

Keep it light, keep it tight, and don’t let your assumptions lead the dance.

Get out there, validate like a pro, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find your market match made in heaven!

Finally, get your business model from your validation.

Step 2: Set Up Your Online Storefront

No, you don’t need a physical space, but your digital presence needs to be as inviting as a cafe with the best Wi-Fi.

Whether it’s through Shopify or a custom-built site, make sure your online presence reflects your brand’s persona.

Remember, your website is your 24/7 salesman, and it never asks for a vacation!

Oh! And you need to set up your business legally as well, in between all this.

Step 3: Get the Word Out!

Here’s where things get loud.

Digital marketing is not just about posting a few ads and hoping for the best. It’s about crafting stories that stick.

Need inspiration?

Look at how Bhavish Aggarwal turned a simple idea of booking cabs into Ola, a household name, by focusing on the narrative of convenience and reliability.

Step 4: Keep the Lights On

Once you’re up and running, managing the backend is crucial.

Tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush can help you understand what’s working (and what’s not).

Stay lean, my friends, and optimize operations to keep costs under control while scaling up.

Step 5: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Here’s a secret – your first idea won’t be your last. The key to being successful is not getting it right the first time, it’s being relentless in improving.

Here’s a secret - your first idea won’t be your last. The key to being successful is not getting it right the first time, it’s being relentless in improving.

Take it from Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who pivoted Paytm from a mobile recharge platform to a mega fintech powerhouse.

Feeling pumped? Ready to conquer the world, one click at a time? I thought so!

If you ever feel stuck or need a bit of advice, remember, I’ve been there, and I’m here to help you navigate through.

Drop me a line, and let’s make your business the next big thing the internet can’t stop talking about!

So gear up, strap in, and let’s turn that idea into reality.

Your entrepreneurial journey starts now.

Let’s get building!

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