Natalie Baker

Natalie Baker is a business plan writing consultant at The Startup Garage in San Diego, California.When she’s not researching stats and crunching numbers, you can find her enjoying all the outdoor activities southern California has to offer.

So you’ve got a startup idea – that’s great! But for many of us, it’s not coming up with an idea that’s the hard part, it’s figuring out what to do next. The following are some tips to guide you while navigating those first few steps:

Research the market

After you have developed your core business idea, some market research is in order. The most important first step is determining the size of your market in order to see if your idea is viable. If your target audience is too small, think about how you can adapt your product idea. You’ll also need to research industry trends and competitors. Is the market crowded with industry players who have little differentiation? What competitive advantages does your business offer that will make your product stand out? Where will your customers come from and will they pay the price you want? Learning the answers to these questions will help you reshape and reconsider your original idea, which is important during the planning phase. It can also help you figure out where other companies need to improve, so you can incorporate that information into your own business!

Create a business plan

Once you’ve gotten all the research you need, it’s time to put that pen to paper. A business plan will help you define what your business is, how you’ll attract customers, your financial and operational goals, and outline the structure of your business. It can also serve as an internal roadmap for your company or as a tool to sell your business to potential investors and other interested parties.


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Launch a prototype

Whatever you’re selling, you should think about giving your business a test run. Launch a basic version of the product to test the market and validate whether consumer interest and opportunity exists. Depending on the results, the product can be expanded with more features, or altered as the market requires. Launching a prototype also gives you great opportunity for feedback, so you can tweak the product, if needed.

Estimate startup funds

Every startup requires initial funds to get going, so you’ll want a solid estimate before you move forward. Once you’ve figured out how much funding you’ll need to open your doors, you’ll have to determine where that money is going to come from. Are you going to go the bank loan route or seek out potential investors to pitch in? Invest some of your own hard-earned savings or look to friends and family for help? Another option for small businesses these days is to crowdfund via outfits like Kickstarter, which allow entrepreneurs to collect micro-donations to help their businesses grow. Either way, you’ll have to spend some time figuring out which type of funding makes the most sense for your company.

Starting a business isn’t easy. It takes hard work, passion and determination to get your idea off the ground, but if you put in the time, your persistence will pay off. By following these tips, you’ll have a much better grasp on whether or not you’re ready to turn your startup idea into something tangible.

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