You have PLANS. (Yes, all caps, boldfaced and in italics, because what you’re about to do is going to change your life.) You intend to create a startup selling (insert name of your product or service) but you’ve never started a startup before so you need a little help. Introducing: Startups 101! Created for people just like you, with tips on how to really get going on this wild new adventure.
Preparation is great, but don’t plan so much you never start.
Let us put it another way: just start! Don’t prepare and mull your business idea over for months or years. Yes, you need to get your important ducks in a row (create a business plan, get a website, figure out where you’re going to sell your product/service and to whom, and so on). But you don’t have to have everything perfectly set because – news flash! – there is no perfect! There is no perfect time. You will never be completely ready. You cannot know if your business will be successful. So, start building something now.
Remember: when it comes to starting a business, imperfect action beats perfect inaction every single time.
Develop processes and systems.
We can’t stress this enough: you eventually want to work on your startup not in it and unless you develop systems and processes that can be handed over to someone else to do (as in contractors or employees), the better. In other words, while you will be doing all the work of your startup in the beginning (hiring, firing, marketing, creating, selling, etc.) you are going to want to give those tasks to someone else eventually so that you can focus on building and growing your business.
Once you have your product or service ready for selling, sell!
For this phase you don’t need – or want – to have manufactured a lot of the widgets you’re going to sell because you want to make sure they will sell! And your service offering may need some tweaking down the road, so before you decide to get some investors or otherwise raise a lot of capital, you need to make sure your product/services are somethings people want to buy. After all, you don’t want to be the entrepreneur who sinks several tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in an enterprise only to find no one wants to buy your offerings.
Instead, start small. (But start!) You’ll learn a lot about your product—it’s strengths and weakness—as well as your customers. Use this to inform your next steps.
Understand that your main focus in the first months of your startup will be marketing.
You can’t sell your product/service unless people know about it, and they won’t know about it unless you market it. A steller marketing campaign is essential to making your brand known. Just look at those comfy Snuggies! You can do so yourself, with the help of the absolutely terrific and affordable inbound marketing platform Hubspot. Or once you have some sales – and especially after you’ve had some success and are growing– it may be time to hire a digital marketing agency.
Now that you have some sales, and you need more capital to grow, it’s time to pitch to some potential investors.
You’ll need to know all “your numbers” inside out, upside down and be able to type them up blindfolded. In other words, this is the time to over prepare because potential angels are going to grill you about your costs, startup business plan, profit margin, net and gross, break-even point, potential market growth, your current investors/loans/debts, and more.
(A caveat, however, regarding getting investors: they’re hard to get for your very first startup. You don’t hear about that often when you read articles about how to create a startup, but it’s true.)
NSM: Never Stop Marketing.
Seriously: your business will always need to be selling and it’s extremely hard to sell if your marketing isn’t working to find you highly targeted leads.
And this is where we can come in: Ingenex Digital Marketing is a Hubspot-certified inbound marketing firm with considerable experience successfully marketing startups. If you’d like to learn more about we can help market your business to your perfect prospects and then move them along to becoming happy and long-term customers, take a look at our free Inbound Marketing Toolkit.
You also hope you will contact us with any questions you may have. Good luck!