15 Things your Startup Needs to Really Take-Off
So you want to know how to start a small business? Congrats!
Startup creation can be an art and a science. It won’t be easy, but for those with the ambition, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit, starting a business can be the best thing that ever happens to them.
Estimates show that 100 million businesses are started every year. 1 Do you have what it takes to be among them and succeed?
To ignite your plan, here are 15 things that you will need along the way to help make your start up business a success.
1. A Good Idea
It all starts when the lightbulb goes off in your head. For many entrepreneurs, this type of brilliance with business ideas can happen a hundred times per day.
But this time you feel different about the idea. This is the one.
Maybe you have an idea for a digital or physical product.
Maybe you have an idea for a service-based business.
Either way, the potential of your idea is so powerful and possible to you that it encourages you to seriously press forward with starting a small business.
2. Thorough Research
Even the most incredible idea should be researched to see its viability in the market. There are so many questions to be answered.
Are other companies already selling what you are selling? Will you be first to market? What is the immediate potential for revenue and sales?
These are all good questions you should be asking when putting together your initial plan to get your startup off the ground. Use Google and other research tools to gauge the market for your idea.
3. A Solid Sales Strategy
What is your strategy for driving revenue into the business?
This is what can make or break your start up business over time. Take some time to map out your sales funnel on paper.
Decide whether it will be based online, by phone, in person, or a combination of these methods.
4. The Product
What are you selling again? Your product needs to be the answer to your customer’s prayers.
Start ups and businesses exist to solve problems in exchange for money.
What does your product or service do to make life easier for your target market?
Understanding this can make marketing and selling it that much easier.
5. A Memorable Name
Note that you need a memorable name, not a perfect one.
Many startups end up changing their name over time, but you should really try to give it your best shot to only name your business once.
There are a ton of online business name generators out there if you are looking for something trendy.
A good strategy to come up with ideas is to go back to your product. What problem do you solve? Use that information to inspire name ideas.
The name is the beginning of establishing your business brand in the marketplace.
6. A Strong Platform
Maybe you did or didn’t know you were starting an online business when this started, but in this era of laptops and smartphones, all businesses should be online.
A natural extension of the business name and brand is your website.
This is the platform and home base where your company puts out its message to the world, attracts customers, and preferably collects money.
Maybe you are not a web design god, and you don’t have top dollar to drop on a custom website.
A resourceful entrepreneur can use this is an opportunity to partner up with someone who does have this ability in exchange for a stake in the business. More on this method later.
7. Social Media Presence
A massive amount of people are on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By the year 2021, it is projected that over 3 billion people will have a social media profile. 2
It’s a guarantee that your target customers are also there.
Being there as well is a smart move to get your brand in front of them.
8. Smart Marketing
Smart marketing does not necessarily mean expensive marketing.
There are plenty of smart and low-cost ways to market your start up online and off – Including informative articles.
Social media was mentioned, but there is also a useful tool known as Google.
Creating content that your customers are searching for and putting it on your website is a good way to use Google to attract them.
Paid advertising also does not have to break the bank and can be employed effectively even on a lean start up budget.
If marketing B2B (business-to-business), there is even the tried and true method of cold emailing and cold calling.
Pick the vehicles for your marketing strategy and then implement it.
You know how you are going to reach out to customers. Once the plan is made, now you actually have to put rubber to the road and drive them to your beautiful platform.
Whether you are doing it with paid ads, organic content, or email marketing, you are now leading customers to your website.
Traffic is essential for any business to succeed.
Or more accurately, a LIST of customers.
When your traffic comes to your website, DO have a lead capture form in place to get their Name and Email. Depending on your business, you may possibly want an address and phone number.
Since it can take 6 to 8 contacts with a customer before they buy 3, lead collection is an essential step for any business.
Collecting a list of customers allows you to follow up with them again and again. Which hopefully leads to them buying again and again!
Build an email list. PERIOD.
11. A Way To Receive Payment
This is pivotal. Every business needs a way to collect money from their customers in exchange for the value they provide.
Figure out what your methods of payment are and what you can accept.
One of the best things about an online business is that you can integrate solutions to accept payment right on your website.
There are many payment processors online such as Paypal, Square, and Stripe to name a few. It is smart business to have more than one so that you have more than one way to get paid.
Depending on the type of business you have, there may be other considerations. If you have a physical location or a mailbox, decide if you are also willing and able to accept other forms of payment such as checks or cash.
The most important thing in any business is sales. If you don’t make sales, you don’t have a business.
Referring to your strategy from earlier, assertively execute on your sales plan every business day.
If you have a solid website in place to receive, market to, and accept payment from your customers, then this can be greatly automated.
Only with sales can your start up grow to the next level.
The mantra of many startups is to keep a lean budget while you grow.
Maybe you are able to use some credit cards or a small business loan, but this is also the time to get creative with your funding solutions.
Many small businesses have the asset of equity to attract potential partners to accept some of the risk and responsibility with them.
A little company you may have heard of called Facebook used equity to help with a lot of expenses when they first got started. This even extended all the way to issuing original shares of stock to the guy who painted Facebook’s first office instead of the $60,000 fee he was asking for. That painter is now worth $200 million. 4 All because he was willing to paint an office in exchange for stock instead of cash.
I am not saying that you have the next Facebook on your hands, but you may be able to creatively finance the creation and growth of your company by taking on partners strategically.
14. A Good Team
The team starts with you and your idea.
You can expand it to include your strategic partners as needed in the beginning.
Then ideally as you grow as a business owner, you will need to hire superstar employees to carry your vision forward to the next level.
15. A Plan To Scale Up
It has all come together. You had the perfect idea.
You took action on it.
Used your strengths to do what you were good at.
Leveraged partnerships, creative financing, and company equity to acquire the things you weren’t good at.
Driven traffic to your amazing website, gathered leads, and made sales.
Now you are ready to double down and build it beyond the start up level.
But that’s an article for another day. 😀