As an entrepreneur, you know that time is the most important resource. It’s not money because if you have enough of it, you can always raise some more says Vito Proietti. At least for now…
Let alone all the other stuff entrepreneurs need to do which doesn’t involve ‘making’ or ‘design’. To create a lean startup, there are two lists of things I want to accomplish: Make and Do. My first question when getting involved with an early stage company is whether they need help on the Do side (hint: almost always). If you want to maximize your chances of making something (a product or service) that people want, I recommend doing as much as possible yourself. You don’t have limitless energy so use it where it will be most impactful. Don’t pay someone to do something that you can do yourself, at least not right away. It’s a false economy and things will always take longer than you expect.
But sometimes, no matter how much energy you spend, your bottleneck is going to be skills or knowledge rather than time. In those cases it makes sense to hire outside help, but only if they’re good enough that their time is worth more than yours. You need people who are better than you at what they do so that the value of their time plus the value of your time as a team exceeds the value of your time as an individual. In this case it’s important to treat them as an investment, making sure you factor in opportunity cost and the time and money that go into finding, hiring, and on boarding them explains Vito Proietti.
Effective use of outside help is the difference between a good business and a bad business. If you’re thinking about using contractors or consultants to get something done, I’ve got one word for you: don’t.
Instead, try some of these tools:
Check out this list of free tools I put together which might be helpful depending on your situation: 31 Free Tools for Building a Startup Business
1: When you’re ready, try Quirky. It’s got a great community of engineers and designers who are happy to tell you what sucks about your product and how to improve it.
2. Do it yourself with Tinker cad
3. Get feedback from people who aren’t biased by friendship or familiarity with the founders (people always lie when asked directly)
4. Outsource the task to someone on elance or odesk
5. Hire a local virtual assistant
6. Barter with your suppliers for design help
7. Hire an entry-level designer, train them, and have them subcontract out tasks as needed
8. Do it yourself using Google Sketch Up , Adobe Illustrator CS5 , 3D Studio Max 2009 , and V-ray 1 .5 for 3ds Max
9. Find a cofounder who’s good at design (or vice versa).
10. Read about designing hardware and how it’s different than designing software
11. Get the product made by a contract manufacturer
12: Make sure you don’t neglect your business while building your product says Vito Proietti
13: Consider how much time and money you’re spending on packaging (consider including a link to this article in your response: Five Tips for Designing Packaging)
14. Use an existing design rather than iterating yourself
15. Hire a branding agency when you need help branding
16. Make sure you hire the right kind of lawyer before filing patents
17. If you can’t afford a lawyer, here’s how I did it alone.
18: Build your product page in Squarespace
19: Use MailChimp instead of Excel
20: Use Fiverr
21: Keep in touch with people in the data visualization community who might be interested
22: Ask someone at Google
23: Don’t forget about Facebook
24: Keep in touch with people who can help you market your product
25: Ask a VC for help finding investors
26: If you have a patent, start sending out this information to VCs to get their attention
27. Learn from other hardware startups (like these guys) and lean manufacturing techniques.
28. When you hit the limits of what you can do yourself or learn by osmosis, hire someone full-time (but only if they’re good enough)
29: Don’t worry about outsourcing until there’s no other option; consider doing it yourself first
30: Use Quora and Reddit to find new team members and freelancers respectively. Do not go directly Elance/Odesk or Craigslist
31: Don’t be afraid to tell your competition that you’re looking for help. People are surprisingly willing to work together on this kind of thing.
Are you a startup looking for some free tools to help your business grow? Or are you a potential client or customer on the lookout for reliable, new businesses that offer great value? asks Vito Proietti Well, look no further! Here at Design Rush, we’ve put together an infographic full of 31 free tools all startups should know of and make use of as part of their everyday operations – from design resources to money management platforms, there really is something here for everyone starting out on their own little venture.