So, don’t deny it: you’ve been flirting with the idea of founding a startup for a while, right? You may or may not have an idea, but the romantic nature of the thing sure piques your interests. While it’s likely that you won’t be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page, you shouldn’t let that stop you from attempting to realize your dreams. The whole process is really nowhere near as daunting as it seems, as long as you have the courage to follow through on your fantasies and the ability to find the right connections, getting the money will be the easy part.
Creating a successful startup hinges on approaching the task with the right state of mind.
Be Confident & Courageous
An entrepreneur needs to be courageous & confident about his/her ideas. You’re embarking on an endeavor with nearly limitless potential. Don’t let yourself get discouraged by a few bumps in the road!
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Remember, when entering the process, one important thing: your plans will change. Don’t marry your hopes to your ideas; rarely will they come through the process without any revisions.
Don’t Plan Everything
You don’t need the perfect PowerPoint or an exhaustive study of all the market data. A cogent, coherent, and exciting business plan with real world applicability is more important to investors and prospective collaborators.
So, you’ve prepared yourself mentally for your undertaking. Now you need to find other people who want to share your burden.
Find People with Same Enthusiasm
You want the quality of people who don’t let anything fall through the cracks. The kind of people who care about success just as much as you do. You want intelligent people who are also able to deliver good results. There are plenty of smart people out there who freeze up under pressure; they will prove to be a detriment in the long run. You want results, not talk.
Keep the Founders Between 2-4
If you have any more, consensus will be near impossible. You need unanimity at this point in your process. Too many people could lead to the rise of factions within your structure. If you try to start the business all on your own, on the other hand, you’ll find yourself buckling under the considerable pressure.
Look for Experience not Background
If you’re a tech startup, make sure you include people as founders with relevant knowledge in your field. A tech startup run only by business people will have a hard time defining what is feasible and knowing quality from shoddy work.
You’ve got the right people around you now; it’s time to start brainstorming. If you don’t create something that people want, you will fail.
The main things to focus on when designing a product at a startup’s launch are:
Finding an open niche
Keeping the costs minimum
Usability of the product
Finding an Open Niche
The best way to carve out a niche is to look around your potential market and ask the six Ws.
Who needs my product?
What will they do with it?
When will they need it?
Where will they use it?
Why will they use it?
How will they use it?
Keeping the Costs Minimum
There are internal & external costs that need to be considered on keeping the engine running. This is probably the most comprehensive thing you want to think and plan on and maybe you’ll need to learn cost accounting 101 or project planning.
Usability of the Product
Focusing on ease of use will grow your engagement with your target base exponentially. People like things that are easy. The easier your product is to use, the greater your chances for success. How do you know your product is easy to use? Do some surveys, UI/UX testings, live testings, and so on.
Slow down there, bad boy. We still have some decisions to make. Where is this money coming from?
If your product is designed with the mass-market end user in mind, a crowdfunding solution like Kickstarter may be a viable option. For this to work, you’re going to need wide mass appeal and the ability to creatively market yourself. You’ll also have to invest in strategies to maximize your visibility.
So, first, you need to find yourself an Angel. An angel investor is one who is willing to give a startup seed capital to see its ideas come to fruition, usually in return for stock options. Universities and local chambers of commerce will usually be able to provide you a list of potential investors.
VC firms work with much larger amounts of money. As a result, you should be prepared to subject yourself to a greater degree of stock dilution and corporate meddling. The deals will also take longer to finalize than they do with angels, generally. VCs vary greatly on what they will ask of you. Sites such as entrepreneur.com host lists of VCs looking for opportunities.
Is launching a business without external help. The money comes from internal cash flow and is suitable when you have a low cost but high return on investment product. This one is a risky thing at first but removes you from the burden of external funding.
Taking action and showing your product to the world is the fun, exciting part of your journey. However, you shouldn’t let it run your life. With a little planning you’ll be on your way.
This will be the place where you introduce your product and build relationships with your customers. Keep it as simple as you can. Put lists, screenshots, a demo, a video, anything you can to explain what your product does and why your users should use it.
Some way or another, you need to promote your product from different channels and advertising should be one of them. You should know the demographics and do some market research before that.
Social Media Plan
A social media plan is essential to every startup because it’s in our lives like TV was once. It’s still a new medium and needs to be handled with ease. Just because Pinterest is on the rise doesn’t mean you should enter it blindly.
SEO seems like a bad bad word these days. Yes, we need to build our product to people first but machines are also involved in the business you want it or not.
As the money starts coming in, don’t blow it. If you run out of money, you will have wasted your investment of time, love, and energy as well as your funders’ capital. Don’t forget about your customers & employees. Remember, they too invested time on building your startup.
Talk to your customers, give stuff for free, teach them about your industry, ask for their opinions, carefully listen to them. Today’s customers prefer small but social business over cold corporate machine like business.
Your employees’ sanity, creativity, and motivation depends on how happy he is with the job he’s doing and the environment he works in. Think about how you can improve this and try to establish a comfy & motivational workplace.
Performance & Analytics
Establish a system to collect data about your startup. You may have a great idea and do great for a while without any data driven decisions. However, when you don’t get results for most of your actions, there should be data to help you answer the question “I wonder what caused…?”.
Remember, things won’t always go as you expected them to be. Sometimes you’ll have to ride the wave, sometimes you’ll go against it. This is your dream and there are infinite ways to make make it come true. What was your difficulties, memorable moments, ideas on creating your startup? Please share your thoughts.