Last night I spoke at a Founders Institute meetup located at FortyFour, a digital agency that a few friends of mine run. Somewhere around 40 people showed up, some of which had already started a business and some that were hoping to one day.

After briefly telling them my story (in a nutshell: this + this + this), I opened it up for questions and for about 45 minutes I answered all sorts of great questions about starting companies. Here are five that stick out:

Can you start a business with a general idea of what you’re going to do, or should you wait until you have the idea fully formed and planned out?

I answered this in the context of “runway”. I’ve talked a lot about runway over the past year (for example), and when I refer to runway I’m talking about the length of time your business will survive before it runs out of money. If your runway is 3 months (you shouldn’t start a company if you only have 3 months of runway, btw), then you need to have a fully formed idea before you start, because you don’t have much time to execute. But if you give yourself the proper amount of runway – 12-18 months at least – then you can have a general idea in mind and get to work.

When I started Dragon Army, Ryan and I had the idea that we wanted to make mobile games and apps for consumers. We didn’t know what kind, or for what consumers, or what the make-up of the team should be, but we knew the general direction and knew we had a few years to figure it out.

Can you start a business on the side, while having a “day job”?

No. You have to be “all in” on your startup if you really want to give yourself a chance to succeed.

How important is the customer acquisition strategy vs. the product itself?

This is a great question. Without a great product, no amount of new customers is going to help. Without a lot of customers, it doesn’t matter how great your product is because no one will see it.

The way I answered this was by saying that in my experience, too many startups focus on the “build it and they will come” strategy. Today, with the increasing ease and reduction of hurdles to building products and starting businesses, I think there needs to be more of a focus on how you’re going to acquire customers. The product is ultimately the most important thing, but you have to have a well thought-out and well executed customer acquisition plan to go along with it.

What’s the best way to get advice for my startup?

Easy. Take advantage of Advice For Good and every Friday go to the Atlanta Tech Village Startup Chowdown.

How long should I wait to get my product in the hands of customers? I feel like I need to wait until its really great so I don’t turn anyone off.

Get your product in front of customers AS FAST AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Create your MVP (David’s advice on building an MVP) and get as many people to use it as possible. Record all of their feedback and then, when you feel like you have a good enough sample pool, compare your notes to your original plan and match your product roadmap to what customers actually want.

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