10 secrets for a successful start upApr 06, 2016
Start-ups are all in the spotlight right now. Since Airbnb took the online world by storm we’ve seen the rise of all sorts of online platforms trying to sell us everything and anything. We can now order a private chauffeur with just one swipe, browse through thousands of cherry-picked wedding suppliers to find a one of a kind wedding dress or get hired to work for people around the world without leaving our own house. We have a wealth of subscription box model start-ups to deliver fresh veg, coffee beans or even dog treats right to our doorstep. There’s also a whole sea of apps that can save us precious time or money or let us order our favourite restaurant meal and have it delivered by a cycling crew. Everybody seems to be disrupting and innovating their way into the start-up scene.
How did all those crazy ideas manage to become a worldwide success? Want to know what are the 10 secrets for a successful start-up? Read on.
Have a business plan
Writing a business plan is the very first step that one should take towards starting up a start-up. A good business plan serves as a necessary guide when making key business decisions. It is also a requirement for approaching investors, who will request a copy of your business plan to review before signing the cheque.
Pick a catchy name
It is not a pre-requisite that you must have a cool name in order to succeed, although we believe a catchy name will certainly help. Think outside the box. What does your business do, can you play with words and stand out? Think about your own name, can you somehow incorporate it into the business name? Or pick an abstract name like a ‘blue banana’ and make up your own meaning for it! Make sure that your name is not too long and also easy to spell. In the current era of the world wide web, you want people to be able to find you easily.
Select the right legal structure for your company
Sole-trader, freelancer, limited company, limited by shares, corporation, partnership….?!?!! There are so many choices! Conduct your own research or seek legal advice before deciding which legal structure is right for you. Consider your appetite for liability. Various legal entities offer different protections against liability. Some would hold you personally liable for the acts of employees, partners and contractors. Others would completely shield you from personal liability. Also, different types of entities have different access to capital, so make sure you pick the one that is in line with your funding strategy.
Pick the right business advisors
Ask around your business colleagues to find out who they recommend for accounting, legal or business mentoring. Choosing the right advisors is fundamental to a start-up success story. These people will have an impact on your money related matters so pick them wisely and avoid disappointment in the future. Think about bundling up. Some firms offer multiple services that will save you time and money.
Use the right tech tools
It is not enough to walk into a big-box store and buy a laptop off the shelf. Think about the technology your start-up will need in the future. A little planning and smart buying decisions will help keep your business running smoothly beyond the start-up days. Get a dedicated internet connection. Slow internet or any slight interruption might cost you money in the future. Get a couple of backup drives and make sure you backup your data on a regular basis. Cloud services are also a good idea that may save you money, at least in the short term if you don’t want to invest in hardware.
Focus on marketing
Firstly, do your market research: identify your ideal clients, research competition and assess market trends. Secondly, prepare a marketing strategy: approaches to sales, promotions, PR, networking, advertising, customer service and marketing channels and tools. Thirdly, develop an implementation plan: key goals and benchmarks with deadlines.
Offer excellent customer service
Many small businesses lose customers due to bad customer service rather than bad products. Nowadays, more and more people appreciate the brand experience as much as the product itself. The time you take to answer their emails, the daily interactions, the going above and beyond – all these matters when customers are considering whether it’s worth buying from you again or not. Every time you do a good job at satisfying your customers, they pay back with loyalty and referrals.
Being a start-up founder means being a jack of all trades for your business, but at some point, it will get beyond your control to do it all. Do not worry though, as being overstretched means that your company is growing! Get yourself a VA (virtual assistant) to begin with and then slowly look around for some online contractors. Do not jump to hiring full-time employees right away. There are so many freelancers available and ready to lend a helping hand when you need it.
Have confidence in yourself and your product
Know what are the benefits of buying your product. The fact that your family and friends cheer on you doesn’t mean that your potential buyers will buy. Make sure that you know what is the value that your product brings and how it serves a need that the customer has. It will give you the confidence you need to sell it. That confidence will come across in your voice and demeanour, making you more effective at finding clients down the line.
Don’t give up due to the lack of funding
It takes money to make money. Don’t see this as a barrier when you are just starting out. It doesn’t take an awful lot of capital to get a business off the ground. Many big and successful businesses were started on a shoestring budget. And if you feel that your business needs a little more cash injection, then try crowdfunding!