With so many cool, useful and popular startup businesses out there, it’s easy to get inspired and want to launch something of your own. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business—or have been toying around with a few potential concepts—read on to see how you can land on something that might one day change the world.
Do Your Research
There’s more to a launching a startup than coming up with cool business names. Think of the bigger picture and how your idea or product could change, impact or, yes, disrupt the marketplace. What’s missing in the world? Is there a current trend or growing trend that signals a future need? Brainstorm current and future customer needs and see where you can jump in when considering startup ideas.
Keep the Customer at the Forefront
You can’t expect your future customers to like your product if you haven’t built it with them in mind. Perhaps start with who you’ll be targeting. Who is your ideal consumer? What are some of your customer types/profiles? What’s it like to live his/her life for a day? What are some pain points in their lives that could be alleviated by your startup?
Talk to Strangers and Ask Questions
It’s easy to get wrapped up with startup business ideas and miss potential risks and opportunities. One suggestion is to do ad hoc focus groups by talking to as many people outside of your team as possible. It’s not necessarily to explicitly share your idea or concept, but touch on areas your product is meant to solve. Talk to extended family and friends, even the people in line at the post office, and ask them questions related to your space. People love talking about themselves and often share insights that can help you build upon a concept.
Leverage Your Experience
If you’re struggling with finding the right startup business idea to get behind, consider using your past career experience as a start. Think about the industry in which you work/worked. You probably know the pain points and issues about what’s not getting done and which vendors don’t deliver. What’s the missing link? Are there opportunities for you to bridge your insider perspective with an entrepreneurial edge?
Attend conferences, workshops and seminars. Not only will you learn about what’s new in the biz, you’ll meet people—often in the same type of position and entrepreneurial spirit as you—who can inspire and play devil’s advocate when needed. Who knows, you may even find future co-founders.
Assess Potential Competitors
Order/download/try out products from those you see as potential competitors. Evaluate each step of the customer experience and see how you like it. See what people are saying about them on social media. What are they getting wrong? What are learnings you could apply to your business?
Choose a Business Structure
Let’s say you’ve identified, explored and launched an amazing idea that you love. Eventually you’ll come to the not-really-sexy part: how will the business entity be structured for legal and tax purposes? You have a few options. Three common set-ups for small businesses are to structure as an S corp., C corp. or a limited liability company (LLC). All provide legal protection for your personal assets (meaning “your assets” are separate from “your business assets”), but each type has varying degrees of regulation (e.g., tax liability, operating procedures, etc.).
And regardless of your business structure, you’ll want to set up your business name under a DBA (“doing business as”) and file with your state and local governments. This is most important if you’ll be a sole proprietorship, but corporations and LLCs need a DBA if they use a different name than what’s filed with the state.
One last bit of advice? Don’t give up. Starting a business is hard work and finding a viable, profitable idea takes time and effort. Who knows—maybe your next big moment of inspiration will strike in the shower tomorrow or on the way to work. If there’s one thing you walk away with today, it’s this: keep at it.
Ready to start a business, but unsure which kind? Take a short quiz and find out.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.