The Six Pillars of Start-Up Success

Unleashing your ideas into the wild

You have a great idea and you’re ready to put it into motion—congratulations! But where do you go from here? Do you write a business plan? Should you sell your house, collect money from friends and family, or buy a bigger wallet to hold all your new fortunes? You could do that, but I’m here to tell you there is definitely a better way.

In my experience, when entrepreneurs come up with great ideas they tend to get very excited. Then that the reality of the planning process hits, and before you know it, they’re performing panicked Google searches for next steps, diving right into a business plan or jumping right into building their product. All of these paths make it more difficult to achieve success.

In my opinion, business plans are not the best starting point. Instead, I would recommend you thoroughly explore your idea, from purpose through to your solution, and start building a prototype. Once you have a thoughtful iteration from MVP (known as a Minimal Viable Product), you can work your way to a successful full release of beta validation.

It is important to document your idea and organize it in a way that makes it easy for you to communicate it to others. One way to do this is to use an organizing principle, such as The Six Pillars (TSP). TSP is a framework that will allow you to capture your raw idea and build the business foundation necessary to get your idea off the ground. It also creates a language that can be used with everyone who will be a part of your new business. Once you get your idea documented, having an understanding of these six pillars can help you more easily articulate and communicate the key areas that make up your product.

Here is a brief description of each of The Six Pillars:

  • Purpose – Why does your company exist, what do you do, and how you do it?
  • Client – Who are the buyers and sellers and what is their unmet need?
  • Competition – Who are the direct and indirect competitors of your product?
  • Identity – What are your values, archetypes and customer experiences?
  • Business Snapshot – How do you make money and through what channels?
  • Solution – What are the key pillars to your business that make you unique?

Now, releasing your product is only the first step in a larger process, but it should be nurtured. The Six Pillars are a way to measure the health of your product and provide a language that you can communicate to other members of your team. As the landscape around you changes (new competitors emerge or client expectations change) your Six Pillars can grow and adapt with you. It is an ever-evolving process that is elastic and responsive—just like the market.

At the end of the day, entrepreneurs don’t fail because they want to fail. They fail because they don’t know how to succeed. Using this pillar approach establishes the language that you can use to communicate with everyone who touches the process and provides a foundation that you can iterate as the environment around you and your product changes— increasing your chances of success.

Rob Maille is the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of CommerceCX

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