I know just before you launch your startup busines it can be very exciting because there are so many possibilities. It can also be very daunting because there are always a few uncertainties. Here are a few things you can do before you risk your money or leave your full time income, so you can hit the ground running.
- Raise capital: raise enough capital to ride out the storm until you start making a profit. HINT: If you’ve never had a startup business or gone out on your own it can be longer than you think! You might have enough in personal savings. Alternatively, you might look at a loan, crowdfunding or bringing in a venture capitalist (outside investor).
- Brand yourself: Your personal brand will follow you wherever you go. Start talking to people about your passion early. Blog about it, talk about it, write a book, get on social media and let people hear your ideas.
- Network: You don’t need to be the life of the party to start networking and connecting with potential clients, partners, business advisers, similar businesses or future colleagues. It’s okay if you don’t like networking events. There are many other ways to start making connections.
- Establish your team: Realise your strengths, weaknesses and time constraints. Learn from the best entrepreneurs and surround yourself with good people, who can make things happen for you. Start looking around for the right people before you launch your startup business.
- Find your partners: You might notice complimentary businesses, who cannot form part of your team for a particular project but still have something to offer. For example, you might have a product and notice another team has a big customer base who could use that product. Try and make a deal.
- Build your following: Seek out a following of people who have a genuine need for what you can offer. If you can’t keep in frequent contact personally, connect with them on social media, via email or as part of another community. It’s much easier to promote your new business if you have an audience waiting to hear about it.
- Refine your target: You probably hear the word niche often and it’s really misunderstood. A niche is a very specific target market, with a very specific set of needs. Your niche is not your startup business, product or service but the business or consumer it serves. You need to be clear about who your niche is, what they want and how you can satisfy them.
- Hone your offer: Be clear about your offer and how you differ from your competition. You should try and find your unique selling proposition, which is something you can offer that your competitors cannot. I hear a lot of businesses say they’re cheaper or they offer better service. That’s not unique because their competitor down the road is saying exactly the same thing.
- Validate your idea: Do some research and find out if there is a real demand for what you have. Are people already paying money for a similar product or service? How can you make a better offer than what people are already paying money for? HINT: If you want to write a book, look up the best sellers for your genre.
- Attract interest: After validation, start getting expressions of interest for your product or service. Soft expressions of interest include comments on a social media post or signing up for your email. If you really want to know if something will work, try making an ‘early bird’ offer and getting your customers to pay for the order before your product or service is even finished. Of course if you choose not to deliver, you will need to refund their money.
I know first hand what it’s like to start a business. Earning trust takes time. Building a sustainable cash flow takes time. Ironing out your business problems takes time. These are just a few of the things I wish I had considered before I started my business. I learned some hard lessons along the way. I’m sharing this with you so you don’t do the same.