We’re all full of great ideas that could potentially lead to the foundation of a successful company. Getting that idea off the ground successfully is the real challenge. There are so many big and minor details you need to know to take an idea from concept to eventual launch.
If you’ve ever considered owning your own startup, here are the things you absolutely need to know before launch day.
Research for the right market
Consider the foundation of every business in the world: They all solve a pressing problem human beings need help with. If you’re starting a business to solve your own problem, without making sure the rest of the world actually gives two hoots, you’re running a passion project, not a business.
Figure out who your customers are
Who are your customers? Where do they live, work, and prefer to entertain themselves? The more you know, the easier the marketing becomes, and the faster you can scale your offerings to generate more revenue.
Come up with your first offering
Be it a product or service — or both — figure out what you’re going to offer customers. Use your research to decide the maximum amount customers are likely to pay. What are the most important features to your offering? Keep features low to begin with, in order to avoid growing pains after launch.
Determine the best structure for business registration
Is your business going to be a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership or corporation? Learn more by reading this Noobpreneur article.
Write a business plan
A business plan is essential to have in place before launch. It will tell everyone from loan officers to future investors about your mission, current and future plans for the brand, and how you plan to make money in the coming months and years.
Protect your intellectual property
Secure patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names, social media accounts, and other things that will help to secure and protect your brand. The first three can take some time, but start the process now.
Decide on the right name
Even Jeff Bezos isn’t immune to bad business name ideas. He famously changed Amazon’s original name concept from “Cadabra” (short for Abracadabra) when his lawyer misheard him and thought he said “Cadaver.” Whew! Think your name choice over carefully as both choosing the wrong name and later attempting to change it will be a branding nightmare. There are many crowdsourcing sites out there that can help if you find yourself stumped.
Seek partners and/or mentors
It takes a village to raise a child. The more ideas, strengths, and opportunities you can make available to the business, the more likely it is to succeed.
Figure out your funding requirements
Are you going to fund it yourself? Go the bootstrap/guerrilla marketing route? What about a small business loan? Angel or venture capital? Crowdfunding is also popular but never easy to secure. All have benefits and drawbacks depending on the type of business and how quickly it can scale with limited or unlimited funding. Consider all the costs, both current and future (Eg., interest, equity) before proceeding.
Create and master your pitch
Often referred to as the pitch deck in investing circles, the pitch used to market your business to prospects, loan officers, investors, and crowdfunding platforms needs to be compelling. Practice makes perfect, too. Keep it short and sweet, detailing how you’ll secure and service customers, and how the money you’re asking for will be used to achieve that goal.
Gather up your support team
You’ll need a business lawyer, accountant, business bank account, and all the appropriate insurance, etcetera, to back you up in day-to-day activities and when surprises crop up.
Ensure legal compliance
You can’t launch a startup without having the appropriate permits, licenses, and processes required to run the business and be compliant with local and Federal laws. If you’re employing other people, you’ll need to brush up on all employment laws. Having the right lawyer and accountant in place will keep you out of trouble with the tax man, too.
Carefully choose a strong team
Investors will be most interested in the team you have behind you. The team and culture you foster is second only to the product you sell.
Figure out where the business will live
Decide on a good location you can run the business out of. Consider budget and lease terms — Ie., some commercial properties require a one or two-year lease. However, with the increase in startups and startup failures, many will offer month-to-month if you ask. Will the startup run out of a founder’s home until it’s established? A virtual office is likely a good consideration in this case.
Never stop learning
A mentor is essential in any startup CEO’s toolkit. They can help you navigate your way through complex and/or costly issues. However, you still have to be your own mentor of sorts, constantly analyzing processes, making pivots when needed, and learning from your past mistakes. A mistake is a learning lesson, as long as you don’t repeat it.
Need a checklist?
Check out this infographic brought to you by Wrike corporate collaboration tools.