Even though these entrepreneurs make it look easy, starting a startup and driving it toward success is extremely difficult. You must always follow certain steps before taking the dive to leave your job and start your own company. Follow these 10 steps to launch your startup and you’ll be one step closer to your success.
1. Find Your Light Bulb Idea
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey was fascinated by police scanners since his early childhood. That inspired him to come up with the idea for the micro-blogging social network where you share the information in 140 characters, much like how police scanner discussions work. You must also set your mind to find your own “light bulb” idea that solves an actual, real-world problem. It could be something you’re extremely passionate about or something new that you’ve invented to make your everyday life easier. Whatever it is, it should be your passion because it will play an important role in your startup’s survival.
2. Do Your Research
Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean it’s worth millions. 90% of startups that start without doing proper research fail because they jump into the business too early. Once you have a great idea for a business, do an extensive research to find if you have a market for your product or service. Understand your audience. See if you have competitors. What makes your product better than the competition? Can you actually make a profit? Get answers to these questions before going any further.
3. Gather Your Funds
High-profile venture capitalists will never invest in concepts or ideas despite how good it sounds. They will need to see proof of concept and your sales numbers before offering seed money. So, unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll need to get your business up and running before going to the investors. Empty your bank account. Ask your grandmother for a loan and do whatever you can to gather funds for your business. Try not to start your business on bank loans. Not only it’s tough to get a loan from a bank for a startup, it will also cause you trouble in a later time.
Also Read: How to get investors for your startup?
4. Find a Mentor or a Co-Founder
Never start a business taking all the responsibilities on your own shoulder. There are very few entrepreneurs who succeed doing everything by themselves and if you ask them they’ll tell you how much of a nightmare it is to run a startup alone. That’s why most of the successful companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Uber, Gumption and Hifluence have more than one founder. If you excel at creating things, find a co-founder or a good mentor to help you with the other parts of the business, such as marketing, design, making connections, attending big meetups, etc. If you can’t find your match, try the Founder Dating website that connect entrepreneurs with similar interests to team up and built their startups.
5. Set Goals and Build Your Business Plan
Partner up with your co-founder and start creating your business plan. Approach the plan step-by-step and set smaller goals to make the process easier to take your company uphill, one step at a time. If necessary, get an attorney and an assistant to check on the legal matters and to register with the government, IRS, etc, as well as to keep all your business related documents well organized.
6. Start Testing
Create a prototype of your product and start testing it to see if it really appeals to your target audience. If it didn’t receive the feedback you expected, keep working on it until you get it right, even if you have to repeat the process 1000 times. Remember, Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before perfecting the light bulb.
7. Start Building Your Team
The second phase of the startup development, getting the business off the ground, is the hardest part. Even if you have a co-founder to help with the business, you will need more people to handle different types of tasks related to your company, such as engineers for building your product, designers, marketers, etc. Be very careful when picking your team and assigning the roles. Also, make sure to keep your team happy. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to motivate your team and to make them feel welcome at the working environment.
Also Read: How to form the right startup team
8. Seed Funding
If you’re completely satisfied with your team and the results of your prototype testing, it’s time to get serious. Take your prototype and show it to angel investors. Angel Investors, or seed investors, are businessmen who are willing to provide capital to help grow a startup in exchange for a small ownership of the company. Find the right investor for your company and raise funds to grow big. Keep in mind that raising funds doesn’t mean you get to rest and spend all that money, it should all be invested in your company. Watch Shark Tank to see how investors and startup founders negotiate.
9. Start Branding and Advertising
With enough seed money, you can finally set a budget for marketing to start promoting your business and your products. It’s best to hire a professional team or an agency to take care of your branding. That way, you can be sure of not wasting your money on untested ideas.
10. Time To Grow Your Business
Much like learning, the work of a business is never complete. You must work hard every day to run the company, find new opportunities, improve your products, and take risks in order to survive as an entrepreneur. As Google co-founder, Larry Page says, “always deliver more than expected.”