One of the projects I'm working on will launch publicly soon. With that on the horizon, I've been asking myself: What does it take to start something new?

When most people launch a new project, they tend to tackle the challenge like this:

  1. Think of business idea
  2. Create 12-month plan
  3. Come up with name
  4. Design logo
  5. Launch website
  6. Claim social media handles
  7. Register company
  8. Start operating

Is this list familiar? We’ve all taken this approach to projects and experienced the disappointment of losing momentum. While some of these actions do need to be taken, focusing primarily on these eight steps can lead you down the wrong path. You run the risk of your enthusiasm for the idea waning by the time you execute.

This list of tasks doesn’t create a business. It produces a hollow brand instead. You probably have no idea what to do with it now it exists.

If you haven’t figured out what happens next, all eight of these standard launch activities are fundamentally unimportant. If you manage to haphazardly win your first customer, the real work begins there: figuring out how to deliver on the promise.

In this scenario, you’re likely to run out of steam before ever really getting started.

I think there are better ways. Here's an alternative step-by-step:

  1. Think of business idea
  2. Scale it down to a single project
  3. Sell it to someone in your existing network
  4. Run that single project to validate the idea
  5. Get feedback and figure out how to improve
  6. Create a case study to showcase what you did

The idea here is to put time and energy into high-value but low-effort actions and avoid low-value but high-effort actions at all costs. In essence, it’s about getting down and dirty — doing the actual work, not just the planning. Making stuff.

The worst potential outcome of this approach is that you end up with a portfolio of cool projects that tell a story about who you are and what you think is important. That’s a lot better than a long list of non-starter businesses.

Next time you want to launch something new, do yourself a favour and skip the unnecessary steps. Strip the idea back to basics, be self-critical, and simply get going.