It will come as no surprise to learn that the majority of new startups (small businesses) fail. In many cases, new companies don’t fail – the people behind them give up; especially tech startups. The single most effective thing you can do to make your startup a success? Refuse to throw in the towel.
Everybody seems wants to do a startup these days. But before you’re dazzled by the prospects of billions of dollars, here’s a list of what you really have to do first:
- Find out if your business is actually viable. It’s not enough to say that you’d buy something you offer. You have to determine with utmost honesty if you’ll have enough customers to actually make a profit at your new business.
- Come up with a business plan. This will help guide your path. Make sure you have financial projections in there so you know if you’re still on the right path.
- Deal with the financing. Figure out how much money you need to get your business started. Then see where you can get that money. Here are few ways to get started with your funding round – join incubators, crowdfunding, raise a seed round from friends/family, or Series A round.
- Pick your business name. It should be original and memorable.
- Get your family to support you. It’s going to be hard enough to start a business, and it’s harder when your family thinks it’s going to fail.
- Set up your legal structure. You may need a lawyer for this. Incorporating your business is essential, so you can protect your personal assets.
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number. Don’t worry; EIN numbers are free. This number will be needed when you incorporate or open a bank account solely for your business. You can also use this in lieu of your social security number.
- Apply for a business license. Check with the SBA for what to do.
- Open a business bank account. You ought to separate your business and personal finances ASAP.
- Choose an accounting program. You don’t want your books to be a mess.
- Register a domain name for your business. Make sure it’s a real commercial domain name. A website with free hosting looks too amateurish.
- Start building your website. Nowadays, not having a website for your business is suspicious.
- Set up your social media profiles. You need to reserve your brand ASAP. You also get ready to market on these social media channels later on. Create all of your social media accounts: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and LinkedIn.
- Begin generating revenue immediately. Don’t wait until things are perfect. You’ll need that revenue to add to your financing.
- Determine if you need an actual office. If you can do everything online, then you can use your money for other expenses as you hold off getting an office. But you’ll need an office if you expect customers to actually meet with you. Getting a desk at WeWork or any coworking spaces is fine too. These are a great work environment for new startups.
- Get some business cards. They’re nice and handy marketing materials, and they’re helpful for networking.
- Define the responsibilities of all cofounders. List all startup founders and their roles in writing, so there are no disagreements as to who has to do what as time passes.
After your launch, make sure you then do these things:
- Access free advice. Consult with friends who’ve started their own businesses, check with the local SBA, and find other online resources, reach out to your social network or venture capitalists.
- Find the right business mobile apps. These can help while you’re on the go; get real-time information.
- See if you need insurance. Your business may need health insurance, workers’ comp, or liability insurance.
- Hire an employee. Sooner or later, you’ll find that you can’t do everything yourself if you want your business to grow.
- Set up your source of inventory. You may also need suppliers and service providers.
- Get legal advice on patents and trademarks. Your lawyer can again definitely give good advice on this topic.
- Enhance your network. Tell your family and friends about your business. This doesn’t mean you nag them into buying your products. But they can introduce you to people and they can recommend your business to their own friends.
- Focus on making sales and attracting customers. Hold off on chasing business partnerships in the meantime.
- Practice your elevator pitch. You need to be persuasive when you encounter financiers, potential customers, and new hires.
- Back up your IT. You need to protect your sensitive information contained on your computers.
- Consider a salesperson. You may be the head salesperson of your startup at first, but you need someone to focus on day-to-day sales while you concentrate on other aspects.
- Pay attention to customer feedback. What your customers have to say can help improve your products and your approach.
- Try to find a mentor. Find someone who has already succeeded in your niche to help you out. Their advice can be tremendously helpful.
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Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect: firstname.lastname@example.org