Despite Uber’s disastrous IPO last week, this is still, undeniably, the age of the startup. Every large city across the world is teeming with enthusiastic groups of people hopeful that they have found the next big thing. More startups than ever are making a successful mark on the world. If you have an idea, this is the time to make it a reality.
Whatever your plans, being an entrepreneur is both exciting and daunting. There are a whole host of plans to make and factors to take into account. It can be tempting, and far too easy, to just jump right in at the deep end.
But before you do that, take a deep breath and answer these seven questions. They are designed to help focus your thoughts and streamline your plans.
They will help you with careful, considered planning. This, in turn, will ultimately improve your chances of success.
1. Why do you want to found your startup?
There are as many reasons to found a startup as there are entrepreneurs, but not all of these reasons are created equal.
If your answer is ‘I want to make money’, then that is not a good reason. There are far easier and faster ways of making money than launching a startup. Startups require time, effort, and every ounce of engagement you have. If you want to make money, go work for a bank.
If your answer is ‘I have a solution to a problem that needs solving, and I am passionate about that solution’, then you are in a much better place.
2. How well do you know your niche?
Not being the most expert person in your chosen niche might not harm you. However, you do need to have researched your area as thoroughly as possible.
If you don’t know much about your target area, find somebody who does, and ask them.
3. Who will your team be?
Very few successful startups are run by one person. It’s pretty much impossible. It’s also far less fun. You need to find a business partner, or at least somebody willing to help you with admin.
Find somebody who is passionate about your project and who knows their stuff. Ideally, find someone who is a compliment to you. If you’re excellent at generating ideas but not so good at completing processes, find yourself an organized partner who can complete the grind.
4. What kind of business are you doing to be?
Eventually, you’re going to have to think taxes, shares, and responsibility. Make sure you are within the law and that your structure fits your team. Laws vary by location, so you need to seek advice on what best to do.
One of your biggest considerations will be how you split ownership. Will you go 50/50, or will one partner retain more influence? Discuss this carefully – you don’t want it going wrong further along the line.
5. Where is the revenue going to be coming from?
Nobody is going to take you seriously without a plan of where the money lies.
You need to know where your revenue is coming from, and you need to have some idea of how feasible your financial plans are. This will help you with pricing, with gaining investment, and with retaining credibility.
6. Who are your customers?
Know your market, and know how to get your market to come to you. Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, getting customers will require hard work and excellent marketing.
Know from the start how you intend to make this happen.
7. Who can help you?
Nearly all successful entrepreneurs had some experienced business guru to give them advice from the beginning. You don’t need to have Warren Buffet’s private phone number, but you do need some idea of who might be able to help you with questions and concerns.
Don’t be afraid to contact successful entrepreneurs in your chosen area and ask them for advice. The worst they can do is refuse. They’ll probably be glad to help.
Finally, here’s a bonus point to consider:
Are you willing to put the work in?
No startup has been founded on ideas alone – you are going to need to work hard and steadily. You need to be certain that you are willing to make your plans happen.
With that said, the best time to start has always been now.