You have a great idea, but how do you move from the idea stage to actually build a successful startup? If you know plenty of entrepreneurs already, you can probably go to them for advice or have already absorbed a lot of lessons from being around them. However, what if this isn’t the case? Where do you begin?
You should start reading and researching as much as possible about startups in general and your field in particular, but the steps below can help you proceed logically through the process.
Make a Plan
You’ll need a business plan if you are going to seek loans or investors, but even if you aren’t, a business plan is a good idea. It forces you to think through the process and ask yourself hard questions, such as how you are going to fund your company, who your customer base is, how you will market to people and what makes your idea particularly unique and appealing.
There may be moments in writing the business plan where you realize you need to go back and rethink some aspect of your business or do more research. This doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong. On the contrary, it is an indication that the business plan is working exactly as it should.
Organize Your Finances
As with a business plan, while organizing your finances is particularly important if you are going to seek outside funding, it is something you need to do even if that is not the case.
You should save up money, particularly if you are quitting your day job, and you’ll want to make a clear distinction between your business and personal expenses. This might include opening a bank account and getting a credit card you use only for business expenses.
This is also a good time to try to consolidate or pay off debts. If you have student loans, you may want to look into a student loan refinance. This can shorten your period of paying off student loans by years, and it only takes minutes to find out what you qualify for.
Networking and building relationships are key to business success. Look into professional organizations in your field. Make an effort to attend events, whether they are virtual or in person.
Join your city’s local Chamber of Commerce. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will uplift you and help you succeed in your business endeavor.
You also should not hesitate to turn to experts for the areas in which you lack expertise, including legal, financial, and technology professionals.
Do the Market Research
A major failing of startups is struggling to understand where their market is and how to reach the right audience. You need to look beyond family and friends and reach out to the general public. Market research should include looking at the work of competitors, surveys, and focus groups as appropriate.
Social media can be a great help to you in this research. You may want to hire a freelance marketing consultant to help you with surveying people, examining and drawing conclusions from data, and putting together a marketing plan.