What we actually wanted to do in publishing that flow chart, is to provide the steps to the missing phase two in the legendary South Park gnome plan. This post is planned to tie nicely to the previous one, which was designed to spark a discussion (or some secret contemplation) regarding your first decisions after your epiphany. What the flow chart ultimately comes down to, is the same thing as with other things in life: money.
We suspect that the people reading our blog posts are potential and (hopefully) seasoned entrepreneurs. Hopefully Google or Facebook come up with some really invasive tracking products (which we’ll “test out”) and we’ll be more certain about our suspicions. To shortly explain the concept of ‘business’ and ‘company’, it’s the effectuation of money, which is: risk. Historically (yes, I’ve kind of researched this), a business undertaking is about the idea and the will of someone coupled together with the money of someone else. That’s what the concept of a company, as a separate legal entity, is all about.
Compartmentalizing risk. What usually happens, is someone has an idea, and someone else has the money. Both those sides like making more money. So one side risks their time and will, while the other risks their money (which fundamentally is just another form of ‘time’). Together, they manage to send a ship to the other part of the world, to trade with the Indians, and hopefully not run into Moby Dick in the process. The concept of the company (without delving too much into types and real world cases) was created so that an idea can be sought, a business project undertaken, and if it doesn’t work out, then the fallout is limited to the company, and not the people. This way, people risk, if it pays out, great. If it doesn’t, then… they use this as inspiration.
So, what does this have to do with phase two of the gnome plan? Well, it boils down to how the entrepreneur wants to go about in commencing her business; the idea she’s come up with. It’s about deciding whether to create a prototype, or an MVP (minimum viable product). It’s a decision that only you as the entrepreneur can take; fundamentally a decision of risk and product type.
In terms of risk, it totally depends on how you want to tackle it. If you don’t have time and money, and if you can demonstrate the concept and validate the idea by prototyping it then, obviously you prototype. On the other hand, you have money (that you want to risk), or you can do it yourself (time that you want to risk), then you can start building a product. There are lots of companies that start this way. An idea is executed, or a problem is solved by someone (or a small team), and that becomes a business. E.g. imgur.com, ebay.com, duckduckgo.com, (arguably) amazon.com.
Then the question is, how minimum does the product have to be? That again depends on your situation, and how much (time and money) you want to risk. Because in a product, there’s always something you can make better and something more you can add. To put it into perspective, just remember that the first few iPhones didn’t even have Copy and Paste! Sometimes the product or the circumstances are such that creating a prototype is kind of useless. Think about imgur.com. It was just another image hosting site. The purpose was for it to be the simplest image hosting site, so that the laziest of redditors would use it. If Alan had built a prototype, and tried to get funding from people, it would have probably just been a funny episode for Silicon Valley. Image Hosting sites were a dime a dozen.
A prototype (not this kind of prototype) is meant to show that the idea and/or the concept is feasible and possible. A stepping stone to building a product. A prototype looks like this. Whereas the product looks like this. But you can build thousands of airplane prototypes. You can’t get anyone interested in any of them without actually flying them. Howard Hughes knew this, and that’s why he flew them. But it's easy visualizing hardware prototypes. In terms of software, the prototype looks much closer to the product. It's designed, and it shows what the product does, only the code is not there. A prototype is meant to give you the ability to present the product. It has some basic functionality (or none at all), and it displays what the product is meant to do, so that the idea/concept can be better understood. With software prototypes you can show that the plane flies, but you can't show how it flies. Similarly with airplanes, rarely is someone interested in how a plane actually flies, only that it does.
We’re not in the business of telling you what to do. These blog posts aren’t how to guides. We just want to provide you with a fun read, filled with gifs, music, movie references, and other links to get you thinking. At whatever stage your idea execution is, hopefully reading this, and discussing these paths that you can take, will benefit you, and you’ll reach that phase three of the gnome plan.