The Give and Take of Starting Up–Part One


Richard BillingsIt begins with a simple idea. Maybe it’s a general idea of the whole thing, without all of the details filled in. Or maybe it’s a few small pieces of something larger. It’s an idea you just can’t get rid of. You start to flesh it out, to allow those fragments to grow. You set some of it down on paper, possibly to begin an outline or even diagrams.

As your idea becomes more substantial you really grow to love where it’s heading. You’ll add something new that makes you smile and think, “Man, that’s clever!” All of a sudden it hits you. Who am I crafting this for? Me? Who’s my audience? Just because this is your idea doesn’t mean that you are the target audience.

You find that you have to get out and start talking to people. You give them the brief synopsis and you find many people are interested (phew!), but as you get into the more fleshed out details you hit snags. Now you’ve lost them. They offer up ideas: “What if… ,”  “Have you thought about…” Suddenly you’re ripping up some of your proudest accomplishments – your favorite parts.

Now the hard part begins. How do you completely rework your idea to fit your audience, all while keeping the initial essence of the original? You find this process near drudgery. You begin to doubt the entire thing. You certainly begin to doubt your audience.

After much struggling, you’ve reworked many pieces and thrown others away completely. Some parts you refuse to change, but instead find ways to reintroduce them, better ways to work them in. When you go back to your audience with your new retooled effort, you find that the whole thing flows much better with them. The suggestions are fewer and easier to implement. You run through this process several more times, each iteration becoming easier to achieve than the one before.

This give and take between the audience and the creator yields a product that both you are proud of — and your customer will appreciate. This is the process of “starting up” but you may see similarities between this process and other forms of creation.

Check back Thursday for Part Two of Richard’s startup experiences.

Founder and CEO of ScrewpulpRichard Billings is a graduate of Start Co.’s Seed Hatchery information technology accelerator. He can be reached at