What do you need for your startup?

We live in an era where ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has something unique and different. While some intuitive ideas are far-fetched, others are pretty decent. Often these ‘thinkers’ are misguided in believing that their ‘clever’ idea is bound to succeed and that no one could have thought of anything better. Having said that, there’s no denying that some ingenious ideas have proven to be game-changers in the industry.

Even so, you need more than just a great idea or money in the bank to hit it big.

So what exactly do you need to convert your startup into a successful business?

Once the initial buzz and excitement of your new idea wear out, you don’t want to be left frazzled, wondering about what to do next. It’s time to sit down and think rationally.  Take a deep breath and calm down. The good news is that it’s not rocket science. Anyone with business acumen can get the hang of it. To make things easier for you, follow this step-by-step guide. It should set you off in the right direction.

Step 1. Explore the viability of your idea

If you don’t have a killer idea, you don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that. Your idea must solve a problem as well as make an adequate amount of profit. Therefore it should have a better, faster, cheaper approach in order to stay ahead of the competition. But more importantly, with technology advancing at an extraordinary pace, you need to consider what the future has in store for your idea. Will there be a demand for your product or service a few years down the line?

Step 2. Do your homework

Complete extensive research. Though many prefer to pursue businesses in industries that they are comfortable in, there’s no harm in trying something new. Nevertheless, it’s always advisable to get views from a different perspective. The easiest way to do that is to meet people from various backgrounds. Find out how entrepreneurs in other fields are thriving in the market. More importantly, gather feedback about your idea from your potential customers. They’re the driving force of your startup.

Step 3. Devise a plan

Congratulations! You’ve given birth to a healthy idea. Now it’s time to write up your business plan. Many startups overlook this in haste to market their products. But it is a vital step entailing a brief description of what the problem is, the solution you intend to provide, establishing a budget, the financial projections, who the target audience is, and how the business will function on a day to day basis.

A business plan helps highlight and organize the essential criteria of your business. Studies show that 64% of the people who start with a completed business plan were able to grow their business, 36% were able to obtain a loan, and 36% were able to receive investment capital.

Step 4. Assemble your team

Depending upon what you are planning to launch, ask yourself what skills will be required to operate the business. Do you have adequate expertise to manage your startup? It’s easy to convince yourself that you can do it all. But you’ll end up getting exhausted and frustrated. Rarely are startups run single-handedly. If you want more freedom, you will need to hand off responsibilities to others. Hire the right employees that are specialists. With the proper experience and education, they have what it takes to help build a strong foundation for your startup. But remember, this is your baby, so you are going to have to be the leader.

Step 5. Make it official

Start off by selecting a unique name for your business that will help consumers identify who you are and what your business is all about. Create a website and register your domain name. Build your online credibility by completing all the legal steps early on. Discuss the legal implications of your startup with an attorney. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), appropriate licenses (if any), permits, copyrights, and a business bank account.

Step 6. Implement the ‘Lean Startup’ Approach

Before diving into a full-fledged product, consider developing a basic prototype. Let consumers interact with it. Experiment with different ideas. Ask your initial audience suggestions about areas of improvement through interviews, questionnaires, or surveys. Listen to their input, especially aspects about your brand that displeases them. After all, they are your brand advocates. Incorporate their feedback and adapt techniques to create a more relevant, improved product.

Step 7. Acquire sufficient financing

Some individuals have adequate funds for their startup, but the majority require supplementary resources. The typical go-to option for many includes family, friends, or bank loans. Others consider funding their start-costs with a business credit card. Moreover, there are multiple options for small businesses and startups, such as starting online crowdfunding campaigns, joining startup incubators or accelerators, applying for government grants, soliciting venture capital investors, etc.

Step 8. Develop your business identity

Acquire a professional, established persona about your business. Design a logo that is consistent across all platforms such as your website, app, business cards, letterhead, or promotional materials.

Step 9. Get the word out

Once you’ve established the fundamental essentials of your business, you need to make people aware that you exist. Therefore your marketing strategy needs to be spot on. The quickest and simplest way to announce your existence is through social media marketing (SMM). You should know that this is not enough. You will need to employ additional tactics, including SEO (search engine optimization), content marketing, email marketing, PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising, and much more.

Step 10. Expand your business

The future of your startup depends on sales and revenue. Even Steve Jobs knew that. So make sales your priority. Start by studying your target audience. Identify these leads and why they want your product or service. Now focus on growing your customer base and create a conversion funnel to coax consumers into making a purchase. More importantly, think about diversifying your offerings.

So are you ready?

You need to be honest about your idea.  Would you buy a similar product at such a price? Remember, your startup needs to deliver something while making a profit. It’s all about the numbers. Planning and managing a budget is only the beginning.

But it’s not only about getting your startup off the ground. You’ve got to stay competitive and keep your customers happy- the key elements to maintaining success. Moreover, develop and implement an organized system to make your startup as efficient as possible. It may be best to adopt the latest technology and automate tasks.

Now you can focus on things that really matter.

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