Whether or not you have already decided what you are going to offer to your target audience and who your target audience is, still brainstorm new ideas for your startup business. Even big corporations gather their people from time to time to see what new product or service they can offer to their customers and what can be done to improve the customer satisfaction and user experience. Hence, at the beginning of your endeavour, you need to brainstorm. A lot. If you have a team, then great! Gather your team and think. Even if it’s just you, consider things like:
- What are you good at?
- What is each member of the team most passionate about?
- To other similar services or products?
- What can you offer to the world that is different compared?
- What will make you look cooler and more fun?
- Who is your target market, customers, buyers, clients?
- When is the best time to let people learn about you?
There are quite a lot of questions to answer. Well, take your time, gather your team together and start brainstorming ideas that create complete answers to all these questions. As soon as you find out what you want to do, start researching. Reading about other companies that offer similar products and services is a great place to start since it will help you come up with newer ideas that don’t copy what other people have already done. Copying others will hardly bring more customers to you; people will surely require something new and fresh from you. That’s why you need to provide them not only with high-quality products and services but also creative solutions to their problems. Your business should deliver something other businesses do not. You must have a solid idea to start with, something that offers solutions to people’s problems or meets their needs, otherwise, you might lose before you even start. Don’t reinvent the wheel, unless you can make a better one.
Write a Business Plan
Does it seem like your ideas are going beyond your original scope? Well, that’s OK because you will discover even more things in the process of managing your business than you ever did in planning it. Planning is a key factor in establishing a thriving business. A business plan will help you answer more specific questions like:
- What are you going to sell?
- Who are you selling to?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- What do you want your results to look like?
- How will you finance your ideas?
- How much time will you spend on management and other?
- Aspects of your business?
- Do you need to train your team?
- How many people do you need in your team to make your dream a reality?
Answering these questions will help you understand the specific direction you are taking your company, what expectations you have for your team, and what results you can and can’t wait for. Actually, having a good business plan in place may ensure about half the success of your startup. However, you must also ensure its smooth implementation. I promise to come back to this section later on and elaborate in more detail on the different aspects of an awesome business plan.
Manage Your Budget
Everything has its price, so starting a business involves finances too. You need to decide how you are going to finance your business costs. Maybe you need to borrow money from a bank or you want to organize a fundraising event (which is quite a trendy thing these days), or maybe you have already got some money put aside after years of working for someone else. Keep in mind, it is important to start a business with at least some money in your pocket. Of course, you can take money from some external sources, but you might need some of your own to cover your personal expenses. It is crucial to keep your personal funds separate from those that must be invested in your startup; otherwise, you might end up spending your startup funds and be left without a penny in your pocket. Although most startups use their own money to start their businesses, they still very often need some external financial assistance depending on the type of business they are starting.
For example, if you are a social entrepreneur, it might be easier for you to gather funds through crowdfunding. There are lots of online platforms where you can post a description of your business idea and get help from the people who want to be part of your change initiative. You can also request a bank loan or a small startup business loan. There are venture capitalists out there too. These people can help you if you are in need of bigger amounts of money. A larger company may provide you with a few million dollars provided that they have a say in running your company. As you can see, there are several business financing options and it is up to you to decide which one suits you best.
Choose the Type of Startup Business Entity You Will Be
In whatever country you live, if you want to start a new business, you will have to choose a type of legal structure for your business. In the USA, you can choose between a sole proprietorship, a corporation, a partnership, or a limited liability company. You might even need to consult with a business advisor or a lawyer to help you decide which type of business entity suits your business goals. You need to register your startup business under one legal structure and to help you decide which might be most suitable for you, let us now briefly discuss all of them:
If you do not have a team, and you are going to own your business by yourself, then you might want to be responsible for it all on your own. In this case, you might consider choosing a sole proprietorship. You might pay lower taxes in this type of startup business, but at the same time, you will be the only person liable for the debts and responsibilities of your business.
In a partnership, two or more people are legally liable for the business. This type of business structure is very much like the sole proprietorship. The only difference is the number of people involved. In the first case, only one individual is liable for all the debts and obligations of the business. In the case of a partnership, two or more people are liable.
If you do not want to be liable for your company’s debts personally, you might want to choose the business type known as a corporation. This will make your company liable for all debts. Corporations can do a variety of things; such as pay taxes, sign contracts, sue or be sued etc. There are C and S types of corporations. With an S type, the owner is only taxed on a personal level.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
You might have heard about LLCs before. Many startups choose to take on this type of business structure. This legal structure is kind of a mix between a corporation and a partnership since the company becomes liable for the debts and responsibilities, while the tax benefits are very similar to those of a partnership. It is up to you to decide which option to choose. Bear in your mind that a business structure always affects the way you pay your taxes or the way you or your company are liable in case something goes wrong. This is another question that must be given proper consideration to avoid possible headaches later on. After you choose a legal structure for your business, you should register it with the government and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Find the Right Team
Most successful startups have the coolest teams. And, if you are not going to be the only employee of your business,. Then most probably you need team. Usually, bright ideas have the power to gather bright people around them. You might already have a great team to support you. If you are still in search of yours, these tips will surely be helpful.
Start hiring creatively
Of course, recruiters and HR specialists might be of great help when it comes to choosing the right candidate for the positions your company offers. However, you could try to do it all yourself and to spice your selection process with the creativity. It usually defines startups. Your ideas are assumed to be unique, so your people should be unique too.
That’s why it’s a good idea to try experimenting while interviewing the job candidates. You can also use your professional network or LinkedIn to find the best team players for your startup. Feel free to offer your candidates some tricky puzzles or problem-solving games. This is a bit unorthodox but it will help you understand the way your candidates think.
Try putting them into stressful situations to see which solutions and ideas they will come up with. Some companies offer candidates sample work or ask them to solve problems within a given amount of time. By doing this you’ll be able to choose the brightest men and women to join your team.
Give your people time to become part of your culture
As soon as you have found the right candidate for the job, give them a probation period for both of you to get to know each other better. In a lot of ways, getting a good employee is like getting to know a good friend. Usually, such an adjustment period lasts from 1-3 months.
Think you might have some office/company guidelines in place that you expect to be followed, so let the newcomer learn about these rules.
You do not need identically cloned employees.
So let people take time to get used to your company’s culture. Then, observe their work and see whether they really are the people your company needs. Or if you should keep on searching for the right match.
Check whether your people are ready to learn
As an employer, you must provide your employees with the chance to learn and expand their knowledge of what they do.
Each of your team players must be willing to learn otherwise your startup will become stagnant, and fail. So, take care to hire people who get excited about learning something new and of expanding their experience.
These will be the people who will later on back your business endeavors. As soon as you hire the right people, make sure you create the necessary bonds between them. It is your task to make them a team since they might be very different from one another. Here are a few things you should be prepared to do as a boss:
- Let your people ask you questions on a daily basis
- Meet them outside the workplace
- Be a role model for them
- Let them have fun in the workplace, praise them and give them bonuses
You can have a great idea, but you need great people with you in order to make your vision a reality. Make sure you include this point in your business strategy!
Thomas Kucharski is a Brand Strategist who partners with CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs to grow their personal and professional brands, human-to-human. After spending nearly a decade working in PR and marketing for successful brands and startups.