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What are the most important things to consider before launching your startup?

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When it comes to startups, launching is perhaps the most interesting step in the whole process. The feeling of getting your idea out there in the market and getting your first client – there is no feeling like that.

But before you actually launch your idea, there are things you should include as part of your final checklist. Here is a list of some of the most important aspects that you should re-check:

Business model

One of the most common causes of failure in the startup world is that entrepreneurs are too optimistic about how easy it will be to acquire customers. Just because you have a great idea, doesn’t mean your business can’t fail. Every business needs sound planning to ensure that you actually get your idea to the customer and at a profit. That is where the business model comes in.

You hear it said over and over by different entrepreneurs, but not many know exactly what they are talking about. Simply put, a business model is the way you intend to generate revenue and profits as well as how you plan to serve your customers through your operations.

Some of the things you need to keep in mind while you are defining your business model include identifying the problem you intend to solve, defining and differentiating your products while listing down your unfair advantage (something that can’t be easily copied or bought), identifying your market (who will be your target customers and users) and projecting your revenue streams and cost channels.

Marketing

When it comes to launching your business, awareness is the tipping point variable.

The many overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of behind the scenes years of hard work. Startup marketing is a unique challenge often times due to the limited resources “such as time, money or talent.

If you try to market your startup to everyone, you waste both time and money. The key is to identify a niche target market and go after market share aggressively.

Conducting marketing research will give you useful information such as the market size, the competition and value proposition.

In this day and age where social media has become a useful marketing tool not only due to its cost effectiveness but also the number of potential customers using the various social media channels available, it would be great if you knew which channels your potential customers frequent and where you are likely to get the most results for your marketing efforts.

Team

The team is one of the fundamental aspects that determine the success or failure of any business. This is because they are the people tasked with coming up with and implementing the business strategies ensure success of the business.

A weak team will usually translate to weak strategy leading to a product that no-one wants to buy as they failed to do enough work to validate the ideas before and during development. This can carry through to poorly thought go-to-market strategies.

Always aspire to surround yourself with the best people you can afford.  Find people who are efficient at the things that you don’t do well.
Funds

Before rolling out your idea, always do a cash-flow analysis to ensure you have funds to keep your doors open for at least six months.

Usually when you are starting out, it’s usually a great idea to keep your expenditure to the bare essentials until you have a steady flow of cash coming in. Cost cutting measures come through simple yet effective strategies such as hiring only the essential employees, renting your office space as opposed to buying and outsourcing services you can afford to. One of the biggest mistakes newbie investors make is looking for investors even when they don’t need them. Before you go look for investors, you look at all available alternatives.

If it’s absolutely necessary to bring in investors, be sure to look into their background for past history. Know who they know and what they have done for others outside of just investing money. An investor should be someone who brings to the table something more than just cash.

Customer Feedback

Customer Validation is very important before you formally jump on the boat.

Once you have narrowed down who are your customers, you need to reach them and share your idea to check if ‘They Accept it’ and are eager to pay for it.

Entrepreneur are very passionate about what they are doing, hence they feel their idea is ‘Out of the World Solution’… but then:

  • Does the customer (supposed) too thinking the same?
  • Is he/she willing to use your solution, more so, will he/she pay for that service or product?
  • How do they like it? Have they found something else, solving their problem in a better or cheaper way?
  • Is the problem you are trying to solve really grave (as perceived by the customer)? All these are questions you need answered before you roll out your big idea.

The validation can be done as either an online survey (of the target audience) or simply getting out in the marketplace where your target audience is and sharing about your idea, asking their opinions, checking if they are willing to pay for such a solution etc. It could even be talking to the next 20 people you meet and getting an opinion of a wider audience, who could possibly be your future customer.

One significant benefit of such an exercise is your audience may give you ideas and feedback helping you to tweak your solution which could be acceptable to more people.

All these can be done in the initial stages of your start-up, rather than ‘blindly’ building your solution based on ‘Our’ biz Plan and then wondering ‘Why there are no takers’ after spending huge amount of time, money and effort.

Expansion and exit strategies

Road map is basically deciding which industries to target, mapping them with a timeline. You should create a plan for every year. Keeping specific goals helps a lot.

In order for your goals to be effective, it should follow the SMART principle.

S-Simple

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Timely

Others ‘base level’ aspects

Other basic aspects you should consider are business registration, taxes, setting up bank accounts etc.

All these depend on the geographic location of your business.  Different countries have different requirements for setting up a business. For example requirements for setting a business in China are different from those of India.

So remember to do your research to find out what will be required of you and to anticipate any potential problems you will come across.

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