By Kelcie McKenney
Starting a business can be daunting, but it only takes a few steps to get ahead of the game and on the right track towards success. Here are eight essentials every startup needs in our competitive business environment.
1. Research your market
You might have an idea for something amazing in your head, but that doesn’t guarantee people will buy it. Without full knowledge of your market, you can’t detect or understand what your potential customers actually want or need. Proper and extensive market research is necessary, and the first step towards understanding whether your idea can become a reality. Start by finding out what other products already exist and come up with a way to make your product different.
2. Brand yourself
Branding might seem like a buzzword or an unobtainable destination, but in reality it can start as simple steps that help define what you and your business stands for. According to Entrepreneur, branding is “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Those first steps mentioned aren’t difficult, and once you’ve established who you are, you can continue to show costumers what you stand behind with additional materials as part of your brand.
3. Establish yourself on the web
This step is necessary. How could customers possibly discover you if they can’t even find you online? In today’s day and age everything is at our fingertips, and people want to access information easily and on their own time. Having a website is the first step to gain recognition. Even if you have only one page up that is immensely basic, that is better than no presence at all. Websites are a living, breathing thing, so start with something simple and as your business grows you can grow your web presence.
4. Use social media
You might think this step doesn’t apply to you because your customers aren’t on social media or that you don’t need it to succeed, but that isn’t the case. Social media is the easiest way to create brand awareness. Remember step number two? Once you’ve established yourself it is necessary to create a backbone of material that reinforces who you are. Social media can be as easy as tweeting or posting on Facebook once a day, and tools like Hootsuite help to schedule out posts so you don’t feel like you have to work on it constantly.
5. Create a business plan
Every good business knows where it’s going. You have an idea and a vision, but how do you bring it to life? A solid plan. Map out your goals, no matter how unrealistic, so you have something to work towards. Business plans can change, but in the early stages of a startup having a plan can be the inspiration to keep moving you forward. After you create a plan, it’s your job to stick to it or make adjustments. “Good business planning is nine parts execution for every one part strategy,” Tim Berry said.
6. Find advice
Everyone needs a good mentor, even with your business. There are plenty of people out there who have either experienced a startup or have a thriving business of their own—and they are full of solid advice. Get to know people you aspire to be like in your field and cozy up to them. They have a world of knowledge to share and have most likely been in your shoes. “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you,” John Wooden said.
7. Build a team around you
No one can do it alone, yes that includes you. You need to build a strong team around you so your business goals can become a reality. Surround yourself with people who do their jobs well and can do the things that you can’t. As a startup, you’re the one with the idea, but you need the right people who can turn those ideas into solid products. One of the most important steps to success is learning to let go. Give the people around you the power to do what they do best, and your company will fall right into place.
8. Stay passionate
You started this business because you had a vision. Your idea and your goals are always something to work towards. Every startup deals with struggles, every business does too, and that doesn’t mean you should give up on what you’ve been working towards. Never let your passion die when it comes to what you want to accomplish. Work through issues and always keep your eyes on the horizon: your plan for your product.