In this article, we are going to break down the best way to start and launch your idea for the maximum chance of success! Carry out these steps (in order) to avoid costly mistakes. Here we go…
Step 1. Preparation.
It’s essential to carry out some pre-launch preparation. It’s strongly recommended that you read, read and read some more! Read books on starting a business, read blog posts like this one. Watch YouTube videos. Consume as much information as you can on starting and growing a business. I know, it’s tempting to dive right in and get going, you have an amazing idea burning within you but pause for a second. Starting a business is really hard and has serious financial implications, the more knowledge you can glean from those that have tried and failed and/or tried and succeeded the better.
Step 2. The Idea.
OK, you have an amazing idea, fantastic! But, you need more…
a) Is the idea viable? Have you tested the idea and secured an initial sale or customer.
b) Do you have any tangible proof that your idea will work?
If you have managed to sell your idea or product to at least one person who is not your friend, family member or work colleague you may be on to something!
You don’t want to be in the position of spending hard-earned cash launching something that won’t shift because you have missed this step. If you can’t sell the product yet, you need to find a way to test you will be able to sell the idea.
Do not assume that if the product or service is good enough, the customers will come. They won’t.
Step 3. The Company Name.
Getting the right company name is essential. The name should convey your mission as a company and it should be able to stand the test of time. Bear in mind that an on-trend name may become very old, very quickly. Brainstorm multiple ideas. You can use tools such as artificial intelligence to offer up suggestions based on simple descriptions of your company.
Step 4. Company Incorporation.
You should consider incorporating your company. Incorporation is a process where you essentially create a separate legal entity that carries out business on its own behalf. In the UK this is usually a Limited company (Ltd) in the USA, usually a LLC or C-.Corp.
The big benefit of incorporating is you are limiting your personal liability. If you were to be sued by a customer or supplier they would sue your company and not you as an individual. Obviously, this is very important and you should seek relevant advice to see what’s best for you legally. Companies can be easily incorporated online at a minimal cost.
Registering your company also gives you some rudimentary assurance that your company name is unique as far as the company register is concerned. But be warned, registration alone is no guarantee that someone else is not trading as an individual with your exact company name. For more protection see the next step.
Step 5. Trade Marking.
Once you have decided on a company name, you may want to consider trademarking your brand. Why? Registering your company alone as described above will not usually offer significant protection if someone else sets up shop with the same or similar company name. Also, trademarking will bring to light any opposition to your new company name. This could save you thousands, say for example if you had to change all your marketing materials due to a dispute. To give yourself full legal protection over your brand you must trade mark it. In the UK you need to look at the Intellectual Property Office in the US you need the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Step 6. Your Logo Design.
Once you have trade marked your brand name you may want to create an eye-catching design and logo for your website and marketing materials. You can trademark your logo too if so required. There are many AI-powered tools online that help you create a high-quality logo at little cost.
Step 7. Business Bank Account.
You will need to set up a business bank account to collect all those payments that will soon be coming your way! If you have incorporated your company you will need to provide details of your new company such as Certificate of Incorporation and company registration number. If you have not incorporated, the account will be set up as a personal account with a ‘trading as’ company name. Banks will usually carry out credit checks to open a business account. However, there are some new online banking providers that do not require credit checks.
Step 8. Domain name and website creation.
For most businesses, it will be essential that you have a working website and associated domain name that matches the brand name of your company. If you have done your homework and fully researched, registered and trade marked your company name your required domains should be readily available. You should register your domains right away to secure them prior to marketing your venture. Once you have your domains secured you can create an eye-catching website incorporating your logo and brand images.
Step 9. Communication.
How will customers reach you? Will it be mostly via email or telephone? or via social media? Whatever it is you will need to set up a professional business email address. If you have secured your domain you should be able to do this easily via the same hosting provider. Do not be tempted to start with a Hotmail or Gmail account. This does not instil trust in your potential clientele! If you are needing to be contacted via telephone try not to spend loads on a fancy telephone system. There are relatively inexpensive virtual telephone systems available, that can be expanded upon as you grow. You should include these contact details on your website and marketing materials. Don’t forget to collect your client’s email address at every opportunity and build a customer email list early on in your journey.
Step 10. Social Media.
Secure business social media pages for all your social platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc should be secured for your brand. You should look to grow these organically. You should post regularly and save valuable time by using scheduling software such as SocialOomph.
Step 11. Premises.
Some businesses may require a physical space as well as a digital one. You should search for premises in your local area online. Ensure that you really do need an office or retail space for your venture. If there’s any way you can launch without this expensive step you should do so and then once you venture is proved viable you can expand to a physical space. Consider hiring pop up space or coworking space to minimise costs further.
Step 12. Create a marketing strategy.
How are you going to reach customers? If you have tested properly you should already have an idea of what channels work best for your venture. Here are some examples of strategies you could use:
PPC – Google Ads etc. Blog posts. Social media posts/Videos. Email marketing. Cold calling. Flyers. Events. Print Advertising.
You should be aiming to create a ‘marketing mix’ rather than a single ‘silver bullet’ that will drive all clients to you. Don’t forget to include free ads as a promotional tool in your marketing arsenal. Some strategies will work better than others for your particular line of business. Remember to measure your results so you can adjust your campaigns accordingly.
Step 13. Growth.
Once you have a bit of traction (clients, users, sales etc.) you may want to grow by seeking investment or external capital. If so, you will need a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a set of PowerPoint slides that succinctly describes your project to an investor or lender. You can create a pitch deck yourself from scratch or you can utilise online tools that simplify the pitch deck creation process.
Step 14. Connecting with Investors.
You can use the social channels you created to connect with potential investors. Sites such as LinkedIn and AngelList may be useful. Many investors prefer you to be referred by someone that they know or someone within their circle. If you have no or few contacts there are online services that aim to connect start-ups with investors. You should post your pitch deck to get exposure to investors in your field.
Congratulations, you have successfully launched your start-up in the best way possible!
This article does not constitute legal or financial advice you should ensure you seek help from a suitable professional in your field.
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