10 Tips for Startup Success

10 Tips for Startup Success

by Bilal Kaiser, August 2015

Between Uber, Airbnb, Ouya and the Yo smartphone app, it’s no secret that startups are more popular than ever. Have you ever thought about launching your own startup? Many entrepreneurs think this is a wonderful time to be starting a business, and they’re right.

Essential business needs such as website design, staffing, product development, and marketing are accessible to practically everyone, and at a much lower cost than in previous decades. The challenge now is how to launch—and run—a startup with minimal hiccups and potential for sustainable growth.

If you’ve been mulling over a great idea for a startup business and want some tips to avoid rookie mistakes, read on. Even Facebook and Google had to start somewhere, right?

1. Talk to experienced entrepreneurs.

Coming up with an idea is easy; it’s bringing it to life that separates the entrepreneurs from the dreamers. Find and meet with business leaders who have launched something similar to your idea to gain insight into the industry and its challenges and opportunities. If anything, you’ll brush up on your networking skills and maybe make a new professional connection.

2. Have a startup business plan.

Sure you have a great idea but how will the idea go to market? What sort of funding will you need in the future to keep the lights on? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You should feel completely confident knowing what makes your product or service different from competitors. A solid plan will also come in handy if you start dealing with aggressive growth—such as an influx of cash that needs to be controlled wisely.

3. Perfect your elevator pitch.

“Entrepreneurs are passionate people, and sometimes that passion gets in the way of a clear, concise message of what it is you are trying to accomplish,” says Conner Forrest, Staff Writer at Tech Republic. As you start to plan and launch your business, chances are you’ll be meeting lots of new people and it will become crucial to be able to quickly convey your idea to the average person—and perhaps charm him/her into supporting it.

4. Build a board of directors.

No (hu)man is an island, so don’t operate your startup like one. Build a team of trusted advisors that can serve as an emotional, even spiritual, support group. The group can be comprised of friends, family members and mentors, but also include your go-to people for things like financial advice, product testing or a simple pick-me-up conversation. Running a business is hard work and knowing you have a team behind you can be incredibly motivating.

5. Find and use free resources.

For support on business strategy, loans and legal matters, check out startup-focused resources like SCORE, which offers free advice on how to start a business. You can also find more focused groups targeted towards women and minorities, such as Step Up Women’s Network and the Latin Business Association.

6. Figure out how you’ll make money and recruit investors.

Many startups seem to have a great idea, but can’t really figure out how to bring in revenue; don’t be like that. Think through how you’ll earn every dollar and then look into growing your concept. Besides the usual route of securing a loan or investors, don’t be afraid to try different approaches like crowdfunding your idea.

7. Decide how to incorporate your business.

While coming up with startup ideas and running a business is fun and rewarding, it can also be a bit daunting to consider all the legal and tax implications. One such concern is choosing how you want to incorporate.

Two common options for small businesses are to structure as an S corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). Both provide legal protection for your personal assets (meaning “your assets” are separate from “your business assets”), but there are quite a few differences. For example, running an S corporation requires holding shareholder meetings and filing annual reports, whereas an LLC can operate with a lot less regulation.

Think about your long-term business needs and consult your financial/legal advisor to determine the best setup.

8. Build a great team.

In an article on Fast Company, Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of home improvement startup Porch, stressed the importance of not just hiring the right people, but hiring the best person possible to do the hiring. “A rockstar HR director is your most important hire. Find someone with a solid track record and give them sufficient resources to be successful.”

9. Get used to doing more with less.

As Morgan Newman from IdeaPaint told Inc. magazine, “When you have limited resources, you constantly have to be really creative about the way you can make things work.” Yes, this means that after putting the final touches on that business plan, you’ll have to fetch your own coffee.

10. Remember to relax.

And lastly, give yourself permission to take it easy once in a while. Don’t worry so much. Your startup business is exciting and inspiring because it’s coming straight from you; why not enjoy the journey and see where it takes you?

Building a business from scratch can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. No matter how much you plan, however, you’re bound to encounter a few challenges and headaches. Just remember to approach your startup in a smart, educated manner to prevent basic missteps—and keep yourself ahead of your competitors.

Need help deciding how to form your startup? Learn more about the different types of business structures and get help deciding between an LLC or S corporation.

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