Over 420,000 business applications were submitted in January. We’ll likely see just as many more in the coming months, as entrepreneurship entices more people.
You’d think the majority of the individuals launching these companies have prior experience doing so, especially since the success rate of startups is extremely low. But many don’t. And it isn’t taking away from their thriving.
Even if you don’t have any experience with startups, you can launch a successful one… so long as you follow some best practices.
Ready Your Mind and Life for Entrepreneurship
It takes a lot of work to launch a startup. You’ll have sleepless nights, a lack of free time, and long hours. You’ll wear many hats. With all that’s involved in successfully launching a startup, you must ensure your mind and life are ready for it.
Familiarize yourself with a few successful startup owners. Founder and CEO of StartupNation, Jeff Sloan is a great choice. Our other experts are as well. Or, you could get to know any one of these 21 highly-successful founders.
Learn about their backstory and their experience launching a startup. Educate yourself on their day-to-day responsibilities. Also, learn how entrepreneurship affects their life.
After that, ask yourself, “Are my mind and life ready for what a startup owner must endure?” If the answer is no, brainstorm what you must do to get ready. Then, you can turn what you’ve brainstormed into an actionable plan.
The last thing you should do is launch a startup based on what you think you should do when you don’t have prior experience. Instead, conduct lots of research on how to execute a successful launch and run a thriving startup.
Start with conducting industry and market research. Study what’s been successful in your industry and where the gaps are. Look at how your startup would fare in the current market.
Government websites are great sources for market and industry statistics and data. You can find trend reports for various industries through research agencies like 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 would help them solve crucial pain points? What must you do to create a launch experience they’ll love?
You can engage with your audience on social media to learn about them. If you’ve already launched your website, you can use Google Analytics to track visitor information. Social media analytics can also help you fill in the details about your target audience. Creating buyer personas is helpful too.
Do legal research, 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 taxes and file them.
A successful launch is imperative, but so is maintaining that success. Conducting lots of research with help with both.
Map Out the Details of Your Startup
After you do your research, it’s time to define the details of your startup. Use a business plan to do this. A business plan includes crucial 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’ll launch your startup
SBA.gov has a detailed page about 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 give you guidance on how to fill in 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 your startup’s organizational structure. List your employees, and their duties and organize their hierarchy. When all employees have defined responsibilities, it’s easier to delegate tasks. You can make sure the right employees lead projects and do tasks most important to your launch and overall success.
Determine How You’ll Fund Your Startup
One of the most crucial aspects of a successful startup is access to funding. You must know how you’ll finance your launch, let alone the rest of the expenses that come with operating a startup.
Ideally, you want to start with the least amount of debt possible. Having money saved for your startup’s costs is brilliant. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t. There are plenty of other funding options to choose from:
- Angel investors
- Venture capitalists
- Peer-to-peer lending
- A business or personal loan
- Small business credit cards
- Investments from family and friends
Start with this list, but don’t limit yourself to it.
Dig Into Marketing
People won’t know about your startup if you don’t know how to market it appropriately. Considering most startups begin with a small marketing budget, you need to find the best approach with this limitation in mind.
For example, traditional marketing tactics like TV and radio ads can be incredibly expensive. You need to find something that can offer the same marketing impact without the costs. Digital marketing would be that something.
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 creation tools can also be budget-friendly. And these digital marketing channels can give you the same reach and results that many traditional marketing tactics do without the associated costs.
Of course, you’ll need to create a long-term marketing strategy for your startup. But it’s a good idea to concentrate on marketing your launch first. A 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 that focuses on launching one specific product, service, expansion, or venture.” You can design the best launch strategy on a defined timeline.
You’ll address not just the marketing part of the launch, but also who your target audience and market are, the customer experience, and the process for creating your startup’s products.
Prioritize Customer Experience Early On
Memorable first impressions are critical for starting your potential customers’ experiences off on the right foot. Many will get their first impressions the day you launch your startup. So, prioritizing customer experience early on is essential.
By early on, we mean before you launch. The customer experience must be at the forefront of every decision you make. Before you finalize any move ask yourself, “Will this elevate or deflate the customer experience?”
Pay special attention to the launch experience you want to provide. Document how you’ll market your launch digitally. Plan out how you’ll build the excitement for your launch with content on social media, in your email group, and on your website.
Then, dig into the details of how you want the in-person experience to pan out. For example, will there be any special guests? How do you want to decorate? What goodies will you give out to attendees? How will you ensure your location is accessible?
Align all of it with your customers’ needs and desires.
Rely on Available Tools and Tech
Tools and technology become that much more critical when you don’t have experience launching a startup. You must simplify the launch process. Tools and technology do precisely that.
Project management software is definitely necessary to keep projects and your team organized. An online data management and storage tool will keep all of your business data in a central system. You’ll also want top-tier cybersecurity tools to protect everything you’re doing online.
In addition, look into tools that can streamline your sales and marketing. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) system is wonderful for keeping track of all details related to customers and their journey with you. You can automatically publish content to social media with a social media management tool.
Moreover, consider technology that will help you with the behind-the-scenes work of your startup. For instance, keep track of your finances with financial management software. And make sure you have analytics tools to collect data on all your devices and digital channels.
If you must start with free software plans and second-hand devices to get the job done, do it.
On the other hand, if you have a small budget for tools and tech, you need to prioritize the ones you need by importance. What do you absolutely need to get your startup off the ground? Laptops, printers, and internet. Marketing, sales, and financial management software should be at the top of the list too.
Allocate your budget to the tools and tech that top your list. Once you become profitable, you can invest in more.
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Build a Supportive Network Around You
When you don’t have experience, you need to rely on people who do. Not only that, you need supportive loved ones around you to help you through turbulent times and celebrate you when you make strides in your startup.
Start with other startup owners in your industry. Connect with those on different levels, such as those who’ve been in business for years and those who have yet to launch. Varying perspectives and advice will help you get a well-rounded picture of what a successful startup launch entails.
Most startup owners are active on social media. In addition, there are groups dedicated to startup owners all over these platforms. Join these groups. Throw your two cents into interesting conversations as often as you can. And don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you make a connection with directly.
Then, ensure you have friends and family around you that support your startup. They may not be able to give you a lot of startup-related advice. However, the emotional support they offer is tremendous.
You’d be surprised how many people launch a startup with no experience. The ones with successful operations now didn’t let their inexperience stop them. Instead, they let it drive them. You should too.