What are the most important things every startup needs? You want to start your own business but might find the requirements daunting. In this article we explore the things that every startup needs in order to enjoy success.
A list of what every startup needs
No matter what kind of enterpise you are thinking of embarking on most ventures have a lot of things in common. Things that you will need to get to grips with if you want to succeed. In this article we explore some of the more common subjects new buisness will need if they are to stand a fighting change of success in business.
A positive outlook
Positive mindset and outlook cannot be understated when it comes to starting a business. When you choose a venture to invest your heart and soul into having the positivity and courage to see yourself through the challenges ahead is invaluable. A lot of people who start up in business give up because of a crisis of confidence- don't become one of those statistics!
A validated opportunity.
What do we mean by this? Well, having a good idea for an enterprise is one thing, but if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success you will need to test your assumptions by doing to good old fashioned homework. That means talking to potential customers and understanding what the key buying considerations are for them. Your idea might be brilliant but if the market is saturated with competition you will find it hard going. One good idea is to pilot or test your proposed product or service before your launch but more on that later.
Carry out market research
Talk to business owners and get the inside track from them. Read trade journals and research everything you can about your proposed venture.
Learn from the mistakes of others by closely following competitors. Ensure that your research is based on facts and figures rather than gut feel or instinct. Remember that research is vital!
Have an awesome business plan
Oh yes, you will hear it from all kinds of people when setting up a startup business and for good reason. Developing a business plan will provide you with the chance to improve your thinking.
Once you’ve got it nailed it will give you goals and objectives to work towards and provide a means of explaining to potential partners and investors what your business is all about. Your business plan is your road map to success. Don’t be afraid of changing it as you learn and grow.
Choose your trading name
What name will your enterprise go by? It needs to be memorable. A sage piece of advice is not to let your company name limit your potential. No good calling yourself Oxford Plumbing Services if you decide at a later date to start selling your services over a wider area.
Take time to settle on a name that works and do some research to make sure no one else is already using it.
Get by with a little help from your friends
Who would have thought that lyrics from the Beatles would prove relevant to starting a business? (we prefer the Joe Cocker version). Musical preference aside- the point is that you will need to gather all the help and resources you can possibly muster to get your business going. What better way than by tapping up close friends and family first? Help can come in all forms, from borrowing a printer or money to moral support or just having a sounding board. Just make sure you get your family behind you.
Set up a website.
In this day and age you can't afford to be without a web presence. Make sure you choose a decent domain name- ideally one that includes the search terms for your product or service. Oh, and think twice about using web providers like Wix - you can do much better. If you’re reasonably comfortable with technology you can set up your website using open source software like Joomla or Wordpress. If so you’ll need to find a good host. We use www.bestwebhosting.co.uk they provide a great service and offer reasonable prices.
Think about co-founders
This one is a biggie. Deciding to go into business with someone is a big step but it can make all the difference. Try to find co-founders who compliment you own skill set. They don't have to be your best friend- rather work with some you trust to be capable and who brings new skills to the team. On the plus side having a co-founder will reduce the amount you personally have to invest but there are risks too, so make sure you know who you are getting into bed with.
Settle on a business model
What business model will you adopt for your startup? There are lots of types of business model. Peer-to-peer, freemium, direct sales, franchise, e-commerce, on-demand, B2B, B2C- the list is endless.
Once you’ve settled on a business idea and know which model you want to adopt you can start thinking about your mission, vision and value propositions.
Set up your company structure
Depending on where you are in the world you will need to register with the appropriate authorities. In the UK that means registering with HMRC. The question is will you start up as a sole trader or limited company? If you go the Limited company route you will need to register with Companies House in the UK.
Do your research- there are specific pros and cons to different types of company formation.
There’s no getting away from it. Most startups need money to get going. When it comes to considering the basics required to start a business money is pretty critical. Whatever you do don’t use your credit card- starting a business is tough enough without having to pay exorbitant interest rates. Try friends and family first. Crowd funding is an option, small business grants, investment angels, banks and venture capital options should all be considered. Look into researching business grants- especially if you are planning on starting a tech related business.
We know, it’s a pain but staying on the right side of the laws of the land is vital. You are likely to need public liability and business insurance. Will you need a licence to trade? If you are employing staff you will need to secure insurance for them too. Register trade marks, look in what National insurance contributiuons your will have to make if you ar eplanning on having staff. If you hire premises you will have to pay rates. Trading standard and food safety regulations are another area to consider if relevant. If you are setting up in the USA you will need a Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Create a customer persona
A customer persona is a profile of the ideal customers for your business based on their buying habits, income level, lifestyle and outlook on life. Knowing what makes your customers tick is key to unlocking business opportunity. Whether you are starting a bricks and mortar enterprise or online business you will need a firm grasp of who your customers will be and how best to influence their purchasing decisions.
Shape your value proposition
You will need to identify your ideal customer needs. Once you’ve done that you can start developing a compelling value proposition. You can have different one for different market segments you want to sell into.
The key question here is what value will you deliver to your customers? Another way of looking at this is by asking “What problem will you solve for them?”
Create a social media presence
Everybody expects to be able to communicate effectively with companies they buy from. Think about LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for starters. Will you need a video channel too? If so check out Vimeo and YouTube. Work at building a social media following which means you will have to create some interesting content. Depending on the type of business social media can be a terrific way of rasing the profile of your business. A word of warning- socal media can also be a massive distraction.
Sort out your premises
This very much depends on the nature of your business. If you are looking to retail from a shop you will need to research footfall. If it's office space you require then you need to think about how much space you require and where.
Make sure you know what you’re doing before you go signing any leases. Will it be a repairing lease where you are liable for repairs? How long will you be tied in for? Think carefully before you make any long term committments.
Open a bank account
You will need a business bank account. Again you need to do your homework first. How long will they give you free banking for? What kind of support will they give you? Don't go with the first bank that offers you an overdraft. Shop around and make sure you get the best deal- one that works for you.
Some banks offer specialist support programmes for startups.
Set up your accounting processes
No startup checklist would be complete without mentioning the need to set up some kind of book keeping system. You don't want to be starting with excel spreadsheet if your business outgrows that approach any time soon. Look into getting yourself a software package like Quickbooks. You will need a purchase ledger, cash accounts and be able to reconcile and produce balance statements. If you stay on top of this from the outset then when it comes to doing tax returns, company accounting and year end accounts your life will be so much easier.
Sort your branding out
A good brand is one that is easy to recognise and distinctive. A strong brand is a must. Think about your logo design- you’ll need one that can be used in different formats- for both print and digital. Will your business have a strapline?
Branding is key to creating an identity and you don't want to be changing it any time soon. Think carefully about what typefaces, images and tone of language say about your business.
Develop your resilience muscle
You are going to need to toughen up. There will be setbacks along the way and you don't way to lose your mojo at the first hurdle that trips you up. Once you choose your business and start out on the process of launching you are bound to face setbacks along the way. Developing your resilience muscle will help you to bounce back from those mini-failures and more importantly- to learn from them.
Find yourself a decent mentor
No matter the kind of business you want to start having a coach or mentor will prove invaluable. Not only can being a business owner be a solitary pursuit but being able to draw on the experience and expertise of someone who has run a business will pay all kinds of dividends. The best kind of mentor is someone who knows their stuff and whom isn't your parner of too close a friend.
Invest in your personal development
By now you have probably cottoned onto the fact that starting a business can be complicated. It doesn’t have to be a headache though.
All small business owners should dedicate time to learning. Sign up for a business course, subscribe to podcasts and blogs and make sure you invest in yourself. Not just now, but for the rest of your business career.
Allocate time to recharge your batteries
If reading this had done your head in a bit then now is the time to make yourself a drink, find somewhere quiet and just chill out for a moment.
Diet, rest, exercise and plenty of sleep are all things that business owners neglect at their own risk. Keeping fit in body and mind will give you the sustained strength to run the business startup marathon.
Oh yes, we all need a bit of luck every now and again. Especially in business. We wish you lots of luck but at the end of the day if you invest enough effort and keep with it that’ll be a better investment than any amount of luck. That’s how true entrepreneurs make their own luck
What to learn more? Check out our startup course for entrepreneurs. It's packed with everthing you know to know about starting a business