There is a lot of advice out there on how to validate your business idea, how to build an MVP, etc. Just to make it clear: by validating I mean testing all your assumptions with potential clients (not family, friends) and possibly getting a first paying customer of the MVP! However, I did not find sufficient information on what to do next.
I know that it totally depends on the business itself, whether it's a platform, website, physical store or sth else. But I'm sure there are some general steps. Do you have to patent the idea first or go to investors if you don't have money or sth else?
What is your opinion?
There are books written on this. Oh, are there books written on this.
But first, I'd like to propose that what you need to do isn't validate, but invalidate. That is, test how your assumptions/lenses/preferences might be wrong, or unsupportable, or just not relevant to people who are not you, your friends, and your family (querying only that population==bad data). As with science, if you can bang away with data at an hypothesis and still not find that it breaks, it miiiight be supportable.
So, books. Steve Blanks "Four Epiphanies", Laura Klein's "UX for Learn Startups", Cindy Alvarez's book on customer development, Gothelf and Seiden's "Lean UX", Kolko's "Well Designed". Don't take "UX" in the title and think "oh, it's about pretty screens" -- UX also covers things like understanding users and whether they'll give a toss when you present them with your "vision".
The best source of capital to grow your company are paying customers. Before you go to investors, make sure someone will actually purchase your product or service.
Broad question. There are a lot of well designed platforms where you can learn about outlining product/market tests. I'm sure folks here can contribute.
You must define your product market dynamic. Frequently, founders can get tangled up in the product (it's way more fun) and miss the market. Go to an incubator/accelerator, I've seen some really complex and entirely legit prototypes that didn't have a market...yet.
One of my favorites is, whom do you identify as your competition? If there isn't anything close, then what is closest?
I understand you don't want to talk about your concept in a public forum, but, perhaps as you study the "world of startups" you will find that the development step you are referring to requires that you efficiently communicate your concept to everyone. Practice makes perfect...sometimes.
Your ultimate goal is to build business around your idea, so now you need to focus on execution. So, make sure you have right people who will help you. Find good mentors and co-founders (in this order). You probably will not be able to hire qualified people from get-go, so find co-founders with right attitude who is not afraid to learn and find experienced advisers (for both business and technology).
Try to be as efficient as possible and aim at early release and first paid customers as your only priority. Put everything else aside.
At this time you will need to evaluate if you want to bootstrap or grow rapidly. Quite often the need for growth is overestimated and you will give away substantial part of your business to investors and waste a lot of time dealing with them. So, my advice is to bootstrap for as long as it makes sense.
At the same time, make sure you protect your IP right, i.e. apply for trademarks and patents if applicable. Your competitors will be replicating your business if they see you successful, so try to make it harder for them.
Having early customers gives you enormous advantage of having early feedback about your product but make sure you keep it coming at all stages. Invest in systems that will help you collect this feedback and make it available to your team. This is your most important secret weapon for growing your product and your upper hand over the competition.
It may take several year for your product to mature but at some point you will need to start thinking about efficiency of your business that you spend less time and money in order to get more done.
That is the general idea but once you get involved with mentors and advisers you will be able to refine it to your specific needs.
Throw yourself into it with full speed and start hacking away your MVP.
Need to manufacture stuff? Make a handful of them and give it to people to try.
App or web platform? Build the simplest unit of it and push it out for people to try.
Now, it gets tempting to want to show them how it works; DON'T! Just say the few words of what it is and let them use it. Watch what they do and see what works and what would not work.
Build on what works and throw away what would not work. Then you can use their feedback to build even more stuff.
Another thing I think is important to mention is that you would learn a lot more about you and even solve issues you never knew you had as you progress. It was our case. Let me explain:
Factory is a project management tool for teams and organizations to keep track of all they are doing and finish things faster. While we were building, we had to use all sorts of methods to actually stay on track and finish our MVP faster. But the funny part is that we didn't realize this on time. We were busy building away on that idea we had which was doomed to be useless because it would never solve a problem.
When we saw that we really need Factory to be able to build Factory, we actually started building Factory. It's a bit funny, but we are currently in beta mode and we are getting a lot of feedback that is making us grateful we ditched the preconceived ideas we had.
I hope this helps you.