How to Start a Business in 9 Simple Steps
Extracted from Forbes, an article by Alejandro Cremades
Want to start your own business? Here’s how to do it in nine swift steps.
You should absolutely try going into business for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll always regret not giving it a shot. After you’ve done it once it will be much simpler to repeat. Yet, like redecorating your apartment, it is a lot faster and more efficient if you get the steps right.
Here’s how to get started with your own business.
1) Refine Your Idea
While you may pivot or take different tangents and add products later on, it is really important to have clarity on your idea before you invest time plowing ahead with the later steps in this guide.
Be clear on:
- why you want to be an entrepreneur and business owner
- why you want to launch this specific business
- whether this will be a small business or fast growth startup
- what big problem you are solving
- that there is a demand for what you plan to build and offer
Don’t get so bogged down in this process that you never get started or miss your window of opportunity. Speed and execution can be far more important than the fine polishing. It will never be perfect. A business is always evolving.
2) Research and Feedback
The biggest risk and threat to your business idea is failing to research and backup your assumptions. Do a complete thorough research, including:
- making sure there is a need and demand
- testing whether people will actually pay money for your solution
- make sure you are not just creating a carbon copy of an existing and established business
- finding out who your competitors are
- determining how big your total addressable market really is
- getting a feel for potential pricing, costs and profitability
3) Create a Business Plan
You need a plan. A business plan will help you think through and answer the questions you have overlooked. It will help you test profitability, understand your financial needs, and give you a roadmap for bringing your business to life and growing it. It will tell you what you need to be financially viable.
However, there are conflicting opinions about what is necessary in business planning today. Especially if you are launching a real startup, and not just a small local business.
A well fleshed out business plan can be a great asset. Yet, it is important to recognize that a few utilize this document as much as they would expect later on. It is a living plan that will always be changing. Few investors or lenders will care to read all the way through it. Don’t get bogged down in this for too long and let time and opportunity pass you by.
Others are bigger fans of focusing on a pitch deck as business plans are starting to become more of a roadmap. In fact during fundraising investors are now requesting pitch decks rather than business plans.
A pitch deck can be used in much the same way. It will keep you focused on the most important items and is more likely to be referred to on a regular basis, and can also be used for fundraising for your venture. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million.
4) Choose the Best Place to Launch Your Business
While more business are working 100% virtually and location independent, where you choose to base yourself, or locate different parts of your business and recruit from can make a big difference.
Factors to consider include:
- Overhead and living costs
- Access to talent
- Networking opportunities
- Business and investor friendliness
- Proximity and appeal to investors
5) Organize Your Business
Now it’s time to formalize your business venture by registering and incorporating.
This step will include:
- Choosing a business name
- Forming a C Corp, S Corp, LLC or similar
- Obtaining a tax ID number
- Opening a business bank account
- Choosing an accounting system
- Securing online assets including web domain name and social handles
When selecting your corporate structure keep the big picture in mind, including fundraising goals.
6) Build Your Dream Team
By now you know the people you need to begin building your business and for advancing to the next milestone.
This likely includes:
- Technical team members
- Customer service
- Marketing experts
- Board of advisors
- Fundraising experts
7) Fund It
You now have a good handle on what you need and who you need. You just might not have the finances or financial cushion to make it possible and comfortable.
There are various ways to fund your immediate first steps and needs, including:
- Cash on hand
- Personal loans
- Business lines of credit
- Friends and family
- Angel investors
Just keep your eye on the end game and how these choices may impact fundraising needs later on.
8) Get Users
Whether you choose a freemium model or need real paying customers from day one, it’s time to get to work to recruit those early adopters.
This is hustle time. It’s time to sprint.
Any future funding is going to rely on gaining some traction here, being able to show growth in key metrics and collecting valuable feedback from this first cohort of customers.
9) Scale It
Once you’ve got a viable business model, and things are working, it’s time to scale it. Find new markets, amp up customer acquisition, and maybe begin rolling out additional products or services. Don’t forget enterprise customers who can really help you make massive leaps quickly. You’ll likely need more funding for this stage. So, make sure you’ve documented everything in detail to show off what you’ve accomplished and where you are headed.