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Starting a new business at this time is not easy, but not impossible either. Entrepreneurship requires time, effort and resources. This is why you find many startups failing.

A recent study by Allmand Law revealed that 90% of startups fail. Only 10% do well. This is due to the fact that most entrepreneurs fail to prepare adequately before launching their startup business.

By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. A startup that will be part of the 10% that do well needs adequate planning.

This is why you need the 5 steps below to succeed and keep your business afloat.

1. A viable business idea

To launch a successful startup, you need creative business ideas. These ideas must have a ready market for your product. It must be a niche that is profitable.

One of the reasons why startups fail is because of lack of a market need for products.

Ensure that the product idea you have is right for the market you want to enter.

Don’t waste your time searching for new ideas of product that has never been in existence before. Rather, choose from what is available and do it better or in a different way.

The fact is, entrepreneurs are not always innovators. They are people who take someone’s idea and use it differently.

For example, Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) sold the same thing that is available at any convenience store.

Once you have your idea ready, get your business plan together and start up the business quickly.

Many startups that took off slowly failed because they wallow in early development and found it hard to get off the ground. Therefore, don’t waste much time to take off.

When you have your idea ready ensure that:

  • It solves a problem: People will only pay you if your product or service solves their problem. A business idea that will be successful must solve a problem for its target audience.
  • It must have benefit and features: You must be able to identify the benefit and features of your product or service before you launch into the market. It shows you are meeting specific needs.
  • Is it an already exciting idea?: If your product or service exists, what are the differentiating factors? If there is none, then you may have to change your idea.
  • Resources for the business: Do you have the resources you need for the takeoff of the business? You will surely need money and time for a successful launch.
  • What is the size of the market: How many people can benefit from your business idea? How many people will be ready to pay for it? This will help you to know the viability of your concept.

2. Don’t do it alone

Do you know that Venture capitals are more likely to invest in a startup that has a funding team? This is because if you cannot get other people to join you in the business, then your business idea may not be viable after all.

There are lots of benefits you can derive from co-founding, apart from investor support. They are:

  • Diverse skills: You may not have all the skills you need to make your business idea a success. Having co-founders means you can draw on other people’s skills set to profit the company. This way work gets done faster and the company grows faster too.
  • You share profits and losses. Since the company is just starting up, you and your co-founders are committed to the success of the company. These include sharing profit and losses as they arise. There are even times you can all forfeit your salaries for the growth of the business. This is not possible to handle as a single founder.
  • Free time for vacation: It will be easy for you to take a vacation without closing the business. You will not be worried sick if you are not around to take care of things in the business. Your co-founders can easily stand in for you. You have each other’s back.
  • Decision making: When it is time to make decisions, your co-founders will help you to see things differently from your own perspective. You can brainstorm ideas together to as a team. This will help to foster growth and build better bonds.
  • Support: There is nothing like having a shoulder to lean on when you are weak. When you have a co-founder, you can strengthen each other and provide moral support to keep going and not losing focus of your vision.

3. Take your eyes off money

Focusing on money at the beginning of the business can pull you off track. Don’t start thinking of funding, capital loans, etc. Grow the business first and your product and service will make money for you.

You need to start focusing on creating a product that people will like to buy.

Below are tips on things to pay attention to, apart from money:

  • You need a clear concept of your product and service. Know the problem you want to solve and how you will solve it.
  • Survey the market: Survey your potential customers to get a feedback on your product or service. It may seem good to you, but not acceptable to your target market. If they did not see the value of your product, chances are they may not buy.
  • Map out the location of your product or service. If it is online, list the things you will need, such as a website, content, landing pages, social media networks, etc. If it is a brick and mortar store, know where you want to site the store. This will help you to develop a better concept.
  • Carry out a competitive analysis: Check out the companies that are already using the business model you want to use. How many companies are you competing with now? What is the difference between your proposed business and others in the niche? Use the answers to further develop your business idea.
  • Search for cheaper means of operation: Since you may not have funding at the beginning, it is wise to look for possible ways of reducing operating cost. Instead of hiring full-time employees, get contract and remote workers. It will give you a pool of talents to use for an affordable cost.

4. Market your startup

Marketing is the backbone of any business. You cannot afford to create your product or service and wait for people to come and buy. You need to take it to where they will buy it.

Marketing is not a waste of time or resources; you need it to make your business successful. Below are cost effective ways you can follow for an effective startup marketing:

  • Start with your social network: Tell your friends, family, and colleagues on your social media networks about your new start-up. Tell them to also inform their relatives and friends about your product/service.
  • Blogging/content marketing: Creating a website and blogging about your product and services, is another cost effective ways of marketing your startup. Create useful and high- quality content for your audience. If your content goes viral, you will get hordes of traffic and sales.
  • Use press releases: Use a press release to generate initial buzz for your startup.
  • Contest and local events: Search for local events in your community where you can display your product or service. You can also hold an online or offline contest and give winners discount on your product or service.
  • Use free trials, coupons or discount: You can offer a form of free trial, coupons or discount on your product and ask for their email in return. This will enable you to get more potential customers.

5. Know your potential customers

Businesses exist because there are people to patronize them. Without them, there wouldn’t be any business. You need to know a lot about your customers. Know their pains and problems and how to help them.

Below are ways to get to know your potential customers better:

  1. Visit forums and communities where your audience hangs out online. Read their discussions and questions. You will get to know what they are struggling with and how your product or service can be of help.
  2. Use offline or online surveys to identify your customer’s needs.
  3. Use social media analysis: If your social media account for your business is still new, you can leverage on that of your competitors’. Check out their audience on social media and listen in on their conversation to know what they want.
  4. Leverage on professional networks: Find your potential customers on professional networks such as LinkedIn and Quora, and other industry specific networks. These are places where your potential customers hang out. You can ask questions in those communities and get real feedbacks for your product or service.