By: Natalie Zweig
New startups face a tough path to success. According to Forbes, 90% of startups fail. In order to be in the successful 10%, you need to make all the right choices. Your triumph depends on more than just your idea; you need to beat out the competition. This path may seem difficult, but it’s definitely possible (and extremely rewarding). Mark Zuckerburg found great success through starting Facebook, now the leader in social networking. Zuckerburg’s advice to entrepreneurs? “Don’t set out to build a company...start with the problem that you’re trying to solve in the world. The best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change, even if it’s just local in one place.” (CNBC)
A startup can be defined as a company in its first stage. Startups are created by entrepreneurs, and often financed by investors. The company is entering the market, and competing for success. The market is full of large businesses that have years of experience and knowledge, making it difficult to compete. However, a strong startup can find its place.
The first step towards success is a business plan. This includes your startup's scheme of operations; how the team will achieve its goals. The plan should outline the next 3-5 years. It should also show what the organization will look like in the future and how it will get there (including the required resources and finances).
The next step is funding. A startup needs funding in order to grow. Investors will pay in exchange for equity in a business. Seed funding is also common for early startups. A seed investment is a very early investment in a company in exchange for equity to support the business until it can make money on its own. You need startup capital to start a company; investors are the best way to accumulate the cash you require to get off the ground and operate profitably.
Third, you must assemble and build a team. Before anything else, register your business name and get a federal tax ID number from the IRS. Consult an attorney, financial advisor, and accountant in the early stages to prevent mistakes from affecting your enterprise down the line. Your company can choose to be a LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, or partnership. The type you end up choosing will impact taxes (and liability). You also need business insurance to protect your company. After these steps are complete, it’s time to hire talented people and build a team.
Now it’s time to build a website. Launching your website is essential; doing it correctly is crucial. According to Forbes, the most important items to keep in mind as you prepare for launch are:
- Establish a landing page; this will allow interested people to stay in the loop while you prepare the actual site.
- Produce some content! At the bare minimum, this means at least four sections (or pages) of relevant information to your concept and team. Aim for quality above quantity.
- Include an email sign-up; this will be crucial for your long-term marketing efforts.
- Connect with relevant figures and/or influencers in your market(s).
- Search engine alerts are your friend; setting them up only takes a few minutes. It's important to be aware of what is being said about your startup. Make sure to include an alert regarding content from your website's blog, if you opt to have one.
- Check out HARO as a possible resource for free publicity.
- Integrate an XML sitemap. It will assist search engines in indexing the most important pages in your site, and is a crucial SEO practice.
- Speaking of SEO: establish a basic understanding of search engine optimization its basic techniques.
- Install Google Analytics
- Set up and utilize Google Search Console; in addition, establish a social media presence for your startup on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
So, you're done creating your online presence. Great work! Now it's time to begin marketing. Pre-launch marketing is an essential step; you should be spreading the word well before your company has launched. Create a buzz! In addition, utilize digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, content marketing, and email marketing. Note: marketing techniques will vary depending on the industry and company.
Building a customer base is essential for company growth. Having an online presence is helpful, but the most important thing is customer loyalty. The best way to achieve this? Customer service. You want to keep your churn rate as low as possible (learn more about reducing churn here).
This process is not easy; your company is likely to face many challenges along the way. However, if you are able to solve problems as they arise, you will have great potential to succeed. Being in the 10% of successful startups is truly an achievable goal! Once you reach this objective, you will have a whole new set of steps to take and choices to make; one of the most common is whether or not to IPO. This process involves turning a private corporation public through issuing stocks (learn more here about where to IPO).
Do you want to build a successful startup? Consider using MassLight for all your technical efforts. We build software for early stage startups solely in exchange for equity. Learn more about our build for equity program or contact us directly.