More than 420,000 business applications were submitted in January. We’ll see more in the coming months, as entrepreneurship attracts more people.
You would think that most of the individuals launching these companies have prior experience doing so, especially since startups have an abysmally low success rate. But many do not. And it’s not taking away from their affluence.
Even if you have no experience with startups, you can have a successful launch… as long as you follow a few best practices.
Prepare your mind and life for entrepreneurship
Starting a startup takes a lot of hard work. You will have sleepless nights, lack of free time and long hours. You will wear many hats. With all that is involved in successfully launching a startup, you have to make sure that your mind and life are ready for it.
Familiarize yourself with some successful startup owners. Jeff Sloan, Founder and CEO of StartupNation, is a great choice. We also have other experts. Or, you might know one of these 21 hugely successful founders.
Learn about his backstory and his experience launching a startup. Educate yourself about their day-to-day responsibilities. Also learn how entrepreneurship affects their lives.
Then, ask yourself, “Are my mind and life ready for owning a startup?” If the answer is no, brainstorm what you should do to be prepared. Then, you can turn your idea into an actionable plan.
The last thing you should do is launch a startup based on what you should do when you don’t have prior experience. Instead, do lots of research on how to have a successful launch and run a thriving startup.
Start with doing industry and market research. Study what has been successful in your industry and where it falls short. See how your startup will perform in the current market.
Government websites are excellent sources for market and industry statistics and data. You can find trend reports for various industries through research agencies such as Pew and Gartner. You can find industry content with a quick Google search as well.
Target audience research is next on the list. Who are your ideal customers? What products and services will help them solve critical pain points? What should you do to create a launch experience they love?
You can connect with them on social media to learn about your audience. If you have already launched your website, you can use Google Analytics to track visitor information. Social media analytics can also help you fill in details about your target audience. Creating buyer personas is also helpful.
Research the legalese, as well as some of the basics of starting a business. Understand how to structure your startup. Know what your insurance, licensing and permit requirements are. Learn how to register for and file taxes.
A successful launch is essential, but so is maintaining that success. Doing lots of research with the help of both.
Map out the details of your startup
After doing your research, it’s time to define the details of your startup. To do this, use a business plan. A business plan includes important details about:
Your startup’s mission Marketing and sales Funding options and financial projections Products and services you plan to offer Your market and target audience How you will launch your startup
SBA.gov has a detailed page on how to write your business plan. You can download their Traditional Business Plan Template or their Lean Startup Plan Template. They also detail what’s in each plan and guide you on how to fill out each section.
If you don’t want to use a template, you can start a business plan from scratch using a program like Microsoft Word. You can use what you learned from the SBA.gov page and create a business plan with only the sections you need.
There should also be details about the organizational structure of your startup. List your employees and their duties and organize their hierarchy. When all employees have defined responsibilities, it becomes easier to delegate tasks. You can be sure that the right employees lead the projects and do the tasks most important to your launch and overall success.
Determine how you will fund your startup
One of the most important aspects of a successful startup is access to funding. You must know how you will finance your launch, let alone the other expenses that come with operating a startup.
Ideally, you want to start with the least amount of debt possible. Saving money for your startup costs is great. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t. There are lots of other funding options to choose from:
Micro-Lending Crowdfunding Angel Investor Venture Capitalist Peer-to-Peer Lending Business or Personal Loan Small Business Credit Card Investment Funding from Family and Friends
Start with this list, but don’t limit yourself here.
dig into marketing
People will not know about your startup unless you know how to market it properly. Given that most startups start with a small marketing budget, you need to find the best approach with this limitation in mind.
For example, traditional marketing tactics such as TV and radio advertising can be incredibly expensive. You need to find something that can deliver the same marketing impact without the cost. Digital marketing would be something like this.
Familiarize yourself with the top social media channels and find out where your audience is spending their time. Most social media profiles are free to sign up for and manage. Email marketing software and website building tools can be budget-friendly too. And these digital marketing channels can give you the same reach and results that many traditional marketing strategies do without any cost.
Of course, you need to create a long-term marketing strategy for your startup. But it’s a good idea to focus on marketing your launch first. The go-to-market strategy is perfect for this.
According to Vendasta, “a go-to-market strategy is a (relatively) short-term, step-by-step map focused on launching a specific product, service, expansion or venture.” You can prepare the best launch strategy on the defined timeline.
You’ll address not only the marketing portion of the launch, but also who your target audience and market are, the customer experience, and the process of creating your startup’s products.
Prioritize customer experience first
Memorable first impressions are key to starting your potential customers’ experiences off on the right foot. Many of them will get their first impressions the day you launch your startup. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize customer experience early on.
By start, we mean before you launch. Customer experience should be at the forefront of every decision you make. Before you finalize any move, ask yourself, “Will this elevate or diminish the customer experience?”
Pay special attention to the launch experience you want to provide. Document how you will be marketing your launch digitally. Plan to generate excitement for your launch with content on social media, your email group and your website.
Then, dig into the details of how you want the in-person experience to pan out. For example, will there be a special guest? How do you want to decorate? What gift will you give to the attendees? How will you make sure your location is accessible?
Align all of this with the needs and wants of your customers.
Rely on the Tools and Tech Available
Tools and techniques become even more important when you have no experience starting a startup. You have to simplify the launch process. That’s exactly what tools and techniques do.
Project management software is definitely essential for keeping projects and your team organized. An online data management and storage tool will keep all of your business data in one central system. You also need top-notch cyber security tools to protect everything you’re doing online.
Also, look into the tools that can streamline your sales and marketing. For example, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is wonderful for tracking all the details related to customers and their journey with you. You can automatically publish content to social media with social media management tools.
Also, consider technology that will help you with the behind-the-scenes work of your startup. For example, keep track of your finances with financial management software. And make sure you have analytics tools to collect data across all your devices and digital channels.
If you need to start with a free software plan and a second-hand device to get the job done, do it.
On the other hand, if you have a smaller budget for equipment and technology, you’ll need to prioritize the ones you need. What exactly do you need to get your startup off the ground? Laptop, Printer and Internet. Marketing, sales and financial management software should also top the list.
Allocate your budget to the tools and technology that should be at the top of your list. Once you become profitable, you can invest more.
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When you don’t have experience, you need to rely on those who do. Not just that, you need loved ones around you to help you through turbulent times and celebrate you when you make progress in your startup.
Get started with other startup owners in your industry. Connect with those at different levels, such as those that have been in business for years and those that haven’t launched yet. Different perspectives and advice will help you gain a better understanding of what it takes to launch a successful startup.
Most startup owners are active on social media. In addition, there are dedicated groups for startup owners on all these platforms. Join these groups. Throw in your two cents in interesting conversation as often as you can. And don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you make a direct connection with.
Then, make sure you have friends and family around you who support your startup. They may not be able to give you a lot of startup advice. However, the emotional support they provide is tremendous.
You’d be surprised how many people start a startup with no experience. Successful operators no longer let their inexperience deter them. Instead, he let them run it. you should too.