You might have woken up with a brilliant business idea today, or maybe you feel like your startup business isn't doing as well as it should have by now.
If you indeed have a new startup idea, you have to evaluate your idea and figure out how to get the ball rolling. And, if your current startup isn't doing so well, you need to take a moment to understand what you’re doing wrong. Or rather, you need to understand what you’re not doing right. It’s never too late to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again.
Therefore, we’ve put together a list of essential steps to help launch your startup just right!
Plan to Succeed
“I have a dream…”
Martin Luther King’s dream would have remained just that - a dream - had he not turned it into reality with ambitious planning. It’s not enough to have a fabulous idea for a startup, although having an idea is definitely a good starting point. You also need to translate that idea into a business plan to get things moving.
Now, you know a business plan is a set of steps and guidelines that will help you achieve a particular goal. We plan everything, from family dinners to career choices. And a business plan is the same, except it revolves only around your business.
A business plan is a documented version of your business goals, the strategies you have in mind to achieve said goals, and the time period in which you intend to achieve these goals. It will require intensive market research, competitor analysis, and demand forecasting from your end to make sure your business plan is watertight.
"So, what makes a business plan a must-have for your startup?"
A business plan contains vital information about the direction in which your startup company is heading or will head once you launch it. It also marks the crucial milestones that you must achieve along the way. It helps you articulate your business strategies to kick your startup into gear, and keeps you accountable for your startup’s progress.
In a nutshell, a business plan helps you prepare yourself and your business for success, so get cracking, in case you don’t already have a carefully compiled binder full of the details of your future business.
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your business or whether you already have one foot in the business door. Make sure you have a business plan before you proceed any further.
Get Yourself the Necessary Funding
Once you have your business plan in place, the next stage is the step-by-step execution of the business strategies outlined in your business plan. And to get things going, you will need money. And lots of it.
Now, the amount of money you will need to raise to kickstart your startup business (or restart your startup if it wasn’t a success the first time around) will be business-specific.
This means there is no tried and tested formula that will help you calculate the exact amount you will need. The initial capital amount you would need can be a far cry from the initial capital needed by another startup business.
Here’s where your previously prepared business plan will come in handy. Flip the pages until you reach the section titled “Financial Plan” and understand the different financial parameters you will have to consider to ensure that your startup is launched successfully.
When you get an idea about the total capital you will need to raise (don’t forget to add a buffer amount for a rainy day), think about how you can raise the same without relying on a bank loan. Bank loans may look like the easiest way to raise your business capital.
But, you need to consider the fact that most banks are reluctant to loan large sums to startup ventures that are yet to prove themselves in the marketplace.
The best move would be to find yourself an investor who will back your startup dreams with the money required to turn those dreams into reality. Always be prepared with a business plan you can use to pitch to your potential investors.
Your investor can come from your family, your circle of friends, or they can be an Angel investor or a venture capitalist. No matter the package your investment comes in, make sure it’s someone you can count on for continued support as you get your startup off the ground.
Make Sure You Find the Right Tribe
Your team is not necessarily limited to your immediate teammates. See everyone who is on this entrepreneurial journey with you as a part of your team.
You are always influenced by your environment and the type of people you interact with. So, surround yourself with go-getters who are driven to succeed. Make sure you have the right team to help you take your startup to a whole new level.
Your team members must be skilled professionals, and also motivated individuals who want to make a difference in the service industry with your offerings.
Don’t forget that your mindset matters too. After all, your vibe attracts your tribe!
Creativity is also an important parameter for success. The more creative people you have around you, the more likely you will be to come across innovations that can propel your business forward. And the more innovative your startup business, the more likely it is to succeed.
You can also talk to more experienced people who have already tread the path you’re trying to take now. They will be able to give you valuable feedback about the pitfalls that you must avoid. You can also get new ideas and better insight into consumer trends by interacting with industry experts.
Set Up a Website for Your Startup
It’s not enough to have a killer product or service to offer. People should also know where to find you and have easy access to your products and services.
The world is going digital, and so should you. If you want to give your startup good traction with the right target audience. Websites are the business cards of this era, and you most definitely need a user-friendly website that reflects your brand values.
Curating the perfect website for your business cannot happen overnight, so you need to find a reliable website development company right away, if you haven't done so already.
You can use your website to let the public know your vision for the business. In a content-driven world, you can also keep your audience engaged through blogs, forums, and more while educating them about your offerings.
Even if you are not quite ready to start selling, it’s always good to increase your visibility online. This way, when you’re ready to start your business properly, you will already have a platform with an audience that is eager to try out your offerings.
You can even generate income through your website through ad campaigns till you’re ready to focus your website exclusively on your business.
Market the Heck Out of Your Idea!
Marketing is an essential part of achieving success. If you manage to market your product well, that’s half your work done right there. You don’t have to wait for your startup to be completely functional before you start marketing.
In fact, you can start your groundwork for marketing through the right networking as soon as you have your business plan ready.
Networking is, in fact, crucial for startups looking to become established businesses. Networking will help you reach a wider audience and learn more about what drives your consumers.
You can build business relationships that can last a lifetime. You are also more exposed to great opportunities and partnership potential if you network with the right professionals.
Once your website is ready, you need to kick your marketing into full throttle. Unless you’re catering to a small community that is yet to catch up with modern technology, conventional marketing techniques such as print media won’t be enough to put you on the digital map.
You need to keep up with the times and invest in digital marketing. Digital marketing helps you reach a wider audience on a smaller budget. It also enables you to streamline your campaigns to reach your target audience, thus increasing the impact of your promotional activities.
Digital marketing techniques that are commonly used these days include content marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, and carefully put together PPC campaigns, among others. If you’re not well-versed in marketing, you either need to start learning, or hire an expert marketer to start giving your offerings the visibility they need.
Build Your Clientele
You need to know your audience if you are to cater to them effectively. Indulge in exhaustive research about the type of audience you are targeting for your offerings. Find out what they like and what they don’t like. Find out their needs and align it with your services. You can start building your clientele even before you are open for business.
Use your website and your networking prowess to give your potential customers a small taste of what they’re about to get from your startup business.
Once you build your customer base, you need to figure out how to retain them. Your retention rates won’t be very high if you fail to deliver on your promises, so make sure you offer only what you can deliver. You can also build customer trust and loyalty towards your brand through programs that reward your faithful customers with incentives.
Now, for a crucial point, you must not miss. Customer service must be one of the cornerstones of your startup business. Make sure your customers are happy with your offerings and the service you provide.
A happy customer is your biggest spokesperson, as they will recommend your business to friends and family. And we all know that word of mouth is still the strongest form of advertising there is!
Understand That the Future is Always Uncertain
You cannot expect your startup journey to be easy. You can make a list and check it twice, but there’s still the possibility of a curveball headed your way.
Now, even though the future might be uncertain, and the market might be volatile, there is always something you can do - be prepared. Be prepared for anything and everything. It could be a great merger that will allow you to climb the corporate ladder sooner than you expected. It could be a setback that will force you to stop and take stock of your business before you continue.
Either way, there are ways you can be prepared to minimise risks and maximise your benefits.
One way to do this is to make sure you’re legally above board. Ensure your business licences are in order, your taxes are filed on time, and your finances are clean. You can also stay prepared for any business emergencies by ensuring your business and credit reports are meticulously done and kept updated at all times.
Being a small startup in a world of corporate giants is not easy. However, you can stay at the top of your game by following the above steps down to the dot. You can also enlist the services of reputed companies like Neoito in a consulting capacity to implement strategies that can help your startup business level up.