Many people have got brilliant business ideas but don’t know how to bring them to life. For beginner entrepreneurs, creating a startup sounds like an intriguing yet intimidating endeavor. “What if customers won’t be interested in buying my product?” Or, “what if my envisioned startup company will turn out to be unworthy of all the investments and hard work?” Concerns like these may become a barrier to developing even potentially profitable products.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in running a business, building a startup might indeed be a challenging task. But chances for success will be much higher if you do things right. Here are the key steps you need to follow to create a startup from the ground up.
Explore the market
Once you develop a startup idea, you’ll need to do market research. It’ll help you ensure that no one has built an identical product yet, learn the competition, and better understand a target niche. Many startup founders believe that they can skip this stage since their products are unique. But it’s a common mistake. Even if you’re going to build a startup that has no direct competitors, there must be some way how customers solve the problem now. Perhaps it is inconvenient or outdated but it exists.
For example, when Uber was just launched, it had to compete with traditional taxi services. Now, the situation is different because other ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Bolt are also available for users.
To get the necessary insights into your target market, you need to reach out to the potential buyers of your product. Just googling and interviewing friends isn’t enough because your findings will not be objective. Making a startup revenue-generating is very much about winning customers’ hearts. So, find real customers wherever they hang out (e.g. on forums, Facebook groups) and try to get a sense of what they need.
Get partners and collaborators
Building startups requires a lot of skills and knowledge from different domains. If you do everything yourself, you’ll either reach the point of burnout in a few months or miss something important. In general, there are two options to consider: growing an internal team (e.g. partners, employees) and seeking support outside (e.g. collaborators, contractors, outsourcers).
The first option can be implemented in practice in rather rare cases. Maintaining full-time staff is costly, not to mention the administrative resources you need to have. If you want to make a startup viable and flexible, the most optimal scenario is to get a co-founder and several team members, while outsourcing the rest of tasks to external providers. This model is also a perfect fit for technology startups since many IT outsourcing companies offer dedicated teams that can be scaled up and down as necessary.
Focus on sales and marketing
When founders ask how to make a startup company profitable, the answer is twofold. First, you need to have a decent product. And, second, you have to market it right. Most of us have probably heard some encouraging success stories about startup businesses that got millions of customers thanks to the word of mouth. But even if they are true, the circumstances in which these companies were starting off are so uncommon that they’re almost a miracle. Relying on something that may or may not happen is a slippery slope, so you need to put the resources into marketing and sales.
To get started, study your target audience. Not just the basic info like “people who need a convenient and fast way to find a cab” but also a lifestyle, daily routine, demographics, and challenges. This data will help you create an effective marketing strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to promoting startups since everything depends on the target industry and many other factors. Fortunately, you have a wide range of options to use, from inbound marketing to growth hacking.
Don’t forget about risks
When you build a startup, risks are inevitable so you must be ready to manage them timely and effectively. Of course, it’s impossible to anticipate every issue that may occur. But, at least, you can prepare for addressing the most common of them such as:
- Absence of product/market fit. It happens when a product doesn’t satisfy a market demand or there is no demand for a product. The ways to prevent this risk include doing deep market research, building an MVP, and opting for an agile project management methodology.
- Low product quality. Your idea may be stunning. But if it’s poorly executed, you’ll unlikely get positive outcomes. That’s why it’s crucial to pay particular attention to choosing team members and a technical partner.
- Insufficient funding. Practically every startup faces this problem. It’s difficult to estimate the total amount of money needed for building a product. So you have to be careful with expenses, especially at the early stages.
- Idea theft. To turn your idea into a real thing, you’ll need to describe it to other people, for example, potential customers, partners, employees, and contractors. If you want to protect the idea from stealing, never tell anyone more details that they need to know to do the job and always sign an NDA.
The above list isn’t exhaustive. Some problems will arise unexpectedly and there is nothing you can do to bring them under control in advance. However, if your startup has a strong foundation, you’ll manage to tackle them and there is nothing to worry about.
Creating a startup isn’t an easy journey and there is no one path to success that suits all new businesses equally well. The purpose of this article was to give you general guidelines on how to build a startup from scratch and help you avoid the most common traps down the road. The last point we want to underline is that you need to be passionate about your idea. All famous startups that grew into market leaders have one thing in common — it’s people who believed in what they do and worked hard to bring their product to the world.
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