With the prospect of being your own boss and possibly earning a ton of money, millions of entrepreneurs are eagerly tugging at the leash to launch their own startup. Starting a startup is easier said than done, however, and most businesses which try to get up and running inevitably fail within the first few years.
Because we live in such a technology-driven society with the internet allowing us to connect with customers around the globe, launching and maintaining a startup business is easier than ever.
Table of Contents
5 Steps to Start a Startup
Here are the 5 essential steps you’ll need to follow if you want to learn how to start a startup fast.
1. Plot out Your Vision
The first and most essential step in launching a successful startup is to thoroughly plot out your commercial vision. Many entrepreneurs have a rough idea of how they want to foray into the market, yet few of them draft up comprehensive business plans that will steer them through the tumultuous starting period that all startups must endure.
You can’t content yourself with vague details regardless of how ambitious you are, as even the most dedicated entrepreneurs need a roadmap to follow if they don’t want to get lost or outcompeted in the open marketplace.
Those who want to set up a high-growth business can’t simply snap their fingers and expect the profits to start rolling in. You should review McKinsey’s comprehensive business planning manual, which has been made publicly available, as this will elucidate the fine details you dare not ignore if you want your startup to be prosperous sooner rather than later.
This manual and similar guides will help you as you draft a business plan that’s tailor-made for your startup, but remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to commercial success. Manuals of this nature are excellent for giving you a general overview of what’s expected in a business plan, but you’ll also want to remember that your startup must chart its own course with its own specific strengths and weaknesses in mind.
This is an excellent time to plot out how you intend to lure in investors, too, as most of the investors you seek out will inevitably want to see some business plan or similar document detailing the inner workings of your ambitious startup. If you can’t convince investors and prospective employees that you have a comprehensive vision of where your startup is going to be in a few years’ time, then your commercial ambitions are effectively doomed from the start.
Now that you’ve plotted out your vision for your startup, you can move onto the next crucial step: assembling a team of professionals who will help you attain financial success.
2. Launch Your Recruitment Efforts
The second crucial step when learning how to start a startup fast is launching your recruitment efforts early on in the process; the sooner you get some stellar employees on your side, the easier a time you’ll have of navigating the marketplace.
Investors will be attracted to startups that have attracted talented specialists, especially since having the best human capital available is a surefire sign that your startup is going to stand apart from the crowd and become a dominant market actor one day.
Furthermore, workers will help give your startup a sense of legitimacy that’s sorely missing when you’re the sole employee, as few customers and investors will take you seriously if you’re a one-person operation.
Phrases like “recruit the best human capital” may sound savvy, but how can you go about actually doing it? After all, the best workers usually demand hefty salaries in exchange for their expertise, and most startups seldom have excess cash to burn. This is one of the most difficult aspects when starting your startup, as you’ll have to determine how much you’re capable of spending on talented workers without bankrupting your company, understanding all the while that too much penny-pinching can result in lackluster recruitment drives that drum up meager talent at best.
Every industry is different, so your startup can’t necessarily rely on the hiring models used by others. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to conduct market research on your competitors to determine how they’re scooping up talented workers to see if you can copy their techniques.
In addition to scoping out what your competitors are up to, you should also be enlisting the help of technology; any twenty-first century startup that isn’t tech savvy is going to struggle to attain success, so consider investing in human capital management tech that can expedite the hiring, training, and management processes.
If you can’t afford to invest in expensive management software, consider doing things the old-fashioned way and searching for talent on today’s social media platforms. After all, the next generation of tech savvy workers is constantly online, rendering most popular social media platforms an ideal recruitment environment for your ambitious startup.
This strategy will also enable you to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the personal lives of your prospective employees, which will help you determine if they’re an adequate fit for your aspiring business.
3. Learn to Master Differentiation
After you’ve assembled an elite team of professionals who will help you learn how to start your startup, you need to give serious consideration to how you’re going to differentiate yourself from competitors in your local marketplace.
By their very nature, most startups are venturing into hostile territory from the get-go; when trying to climb to the top of your local market, you’ll face stiff headwinds from established businesses that don’t want to cede an inch of their turf to your nascent company.
Rather than stand idly by as major companies try to stomp on your growing startup, you need to take action to separate yourself from the masses and make yourself more attractive to new customers.
The previous steps are directly related to this one; if you have a stellar workforce that’s composed of talented individuals, for instance, your startup will have an easier time proving to customers and investors alike that it’s different from others in its industry.
Learning to master differentiation takes more than hiring a few good workers, however. If you want to garner sustained attention for your brand, you need to make it clear that you’re unlike anything customers or investors have ever seen before.
There are a number of techniques that aspiring startups can rely upon to differentiate themselves. Pricing your goods and services in a competitive fashion is an age-old tactic that has worked for countless businesses in the past, but this isn’t always an option if your startup is desperate for cash and finds itself in need of higher rates to keep the lights on.
If cutting costs in order to offer cheap prices isn’t a possibility, your other option is to offer goods and services of unparalleled quality to your customers and clients in hopes that they come to associate your brand with excellence.
Reviewing a list of ways that startups can differentiate themselves is a must for any entrepreneur who doesn’t want their new business to flounder in the market. If you’re offering new and intriguing services like a blockchain service that is unlike anything presently available, your startup is much more likely to garner positive press for itself while attracting talented individuals in its industry who want to be a part of the best up-and-coming company around.
Businesses that fail to differentiate themselves will inevitably fail, particularly now that we’re in the era of specialized services that are tailor-made to meet consumer demands. Ignore differentiating your startup at your own peril, as doing so will relegate your company to the dustbin of history before it ever gets a chance to prove itself.
4. Know How You’re Going to Leverage Tech
After you’ve drafted a stellar business plan, recruited talented employees, and figured out how you intend to set your brand apart from others in the market, you can address the pressing issue of how your startup is going to leverage tech as it attempts to establish itself.
Most entrepreneurs who are eager to launch their own business have a simple tech strategy: digitize your operations to the greatest extent possible in order to cut costs.
In reality, however, this is far too vague a strategy to base your entire startup on. You need a specific, tech-centric plan that addresses how your company will leverage digital technology to make a name for itself while keeping operational costs under control.
Establishing an IT budget as early on in the startup process as possible is a good place to start. If you don’t have an allotted amount of cash set aside to spend on your digital operations, you’ll likely find yourself overspending or underspending, depending on your industry. Getting your startup up and running as soon as possible is important, but you need to understand that rushing the establishment of your digital operations is a surefire way to permanently weaken your startup’s market prospects.
Who you hire is an important part of knowing how you’re going to leverage tech for success. If you rely on third parties to manage your digital operations, for instance, you’ll end up saving money but will lose important autonomy.
Taking into consideration your startup’s industry and the local market conditions, you need to determine how much you’re willing to spend and whether you’re willing to have dedicated IT specialists as members of your permanent team.
While tech gurus frequently command high salaries, they’re often a worthwhile investment, particularly if your startup needs to establish a strong digital presence for itself to lure in new customers and attract potential investors.
Marketing is an important part of this process, too. In this day and age, virtually all marketing is conducted through digital mediums that demand IT expertise to truly master, so having some digital gurus on your side will undoubtedly bolster your outreach to customers. Knowing how to use tech to take your startup to the next level may be the deciding factor that determines your overall success.
5. Plan How to Scale Your Business Upwards
Perhaps the most egregious mistake that many entrepreneurs make when leading their first startup business is ignoring the fact that they’ll one day have to scale their business upwards.
Startups are tiny by their very nature, but some startups grow at a ravenous, insatiable rate that quickly sees them outpacing competitors and growing to such an immense size that scaling upwards is a necessity if you want to keep operating.
You may think you have a plan for when you hit profitability and gain some extra spending money, but the truth of the matter is that scalability must be considered from the earliest days of your startup if you don’t want to flounder once you start hitting the big league.
When establishing your company’s IT network, for instance, consider how scalable your digital operations are and whether the tech investments you’re making right now will be useful if your startup suddenly expands. Make sure you have adequate commercial insurance in place to protect yourself against cyber attacks and other issues. Some software services are ideal for tiny startups, for instance, but simply insufficient once your business grows and finds itself in need of more complex digital services.
Furthermore, your hiring model needs to take into consideration the fact that you may suddenly need to recruit more employees to appease consumer demand or convince investors that you can keep growing.
This final step of starting a startup quickly is fundamentally tied to the very first step–when envisioning your startup’s future, you must consider what you would do if you were to attain success beyond your wildest dreams. This is because businesses plan extensively for failure, yet seldom consider what their next step will be if they actually achieve their goals under budget and ahead of schedule.
Keeping an eye on the future and understanding that scalability must be considered from the earliest days of your operations is an imperative part of making it as a successful entrepreneur.
15 Startup Business Ideas
Here’re 15 stellar startup business ideas for the burgeoning entrepreneur:
1. Online Coaching
If you know how to do something well and enjoy teaching others, launching an online coaching business can be one of the most rewarding business endeavors out there.
Whereas pre-internet, you would largely be limited to the people in the city you live in, a camera and internet connection is all that is needed to share your skills with the entire world.
Looking to get started?
- Write down three skills you’re really good at.
- Break them up into how-to steps.
- Begin putting lessons together.
Whether it’s offering dating advice, teaching music or yoga lessons, people are willing to pay for specialized coaching.
2. Social Media Management
If you haven’t noticed already, social media is everywhere and every business on the planet is looking to use it to expand their customer base. It’s how businesses attract new customers and keep existing ones informed about new products and services.
Creating social media posts for businesses and launching campaigns that truly go viral isn’t easy, but for those with a wild creative streak, it can be incredibly lucrative.
If you have experience in navigating the ever-changing social media landscape, the sky’s the limit for expanding your client base.
It should also go without saying that being an expert in social media strategy will prove incredibly useful in growing your own business.
3. Healthy Option Vending Machines
After years of unhealthy processed foods, we’re seeing a movement towards more health-conscious fare. It’s happening in the restaurant biz, and vending machines are likely next to ditch the empty calories.
Employers want their employees to stay healthy. It means fewer sick days and higher rates of productivity. It’s why so many businesses are looking to ditch the standard junk food vending machines and bring in healthier snacking options.
The healthy vending machine wave is already a strong $43 billion and growing industry and new entrepreneurs have the option of launching with a single machine or fleet of any size.
4. Flipping Websites
Flipping houses is so 2010. Plus, it’s incredibly hard labor and there’s no telling when the housing market is going to take another downward turn.
If you’re willing to do your research, flipping websites can equal some fast cash — though it does require some skill.
Through buying and selling domains on your own or using existing platforms like Flippa.com, this is a business with absolutely zero overhead. When you factor in that every new business is launching a website and a good domain name is everything, this online business will be around for quite some time.
5. Virtual Assistant
If it has the word “virtual” in the job title, then you can bet that it’s a growing industry. There are quite a few companies out there looking online for remote help and assistants are one of the leading roles they’re looking to fill.
As a virtual assistant, you’ll pick clients whom you enjoy working with and will manage their emails, schedule meetings, and complete other tasks that they need done in order to help their lives and businesses run a little smoother.
This startup industry should be especially appealing to somebody who is well organized and prides themselves on planning and helping others.
It’s a term you’ll find littered throughout media outlets like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, and for a good reason.
Renting is more popular than ever. People would much rather pay a few bucks to borrow X or have somebody do X task for them.
It’s precisely why mega crowdsourcing companies like Takl and Upwork are booming and long-established companies like Budweiser and Coca-Cola are embracing the trend.
Looking to launch your own crowdsourcing business?
- Build a platform where people can list their goods or services.
- Get it in front of your intended audience.
- Take a fair cut of each transaction.
Find the right niche and you just might have the next Airbnb on your hands.
7. Drone Photography
Few technologies have seen the boom in popular culture the way drones have and it’s estimated that some 600,000 are currently in the skies today.
Offering photo and video options that would have previously costed thousands of dollars and required the use of a helicopter, drone photography is a booming industry.
Resorts use them to capture the grandeur of their lodgings from above, farmers use them to monitor crops, and newlyweds use them to take wedding selfies.
With a higher-end drone and good camera, an operator can tackle any number of projects.
8. Property Management
From housesitting to managing a vacation rental, ensuring that one’s property is properly cared for is a service that will always be in demand. Property owners may not be around to handle things like managing repairs or tackling the needs of renting guests and will need reliable help.
It will take some willingness to be flexible in your schedule and knowing somebody who needs their home or property managed will help to help to establish early clients. With a large enough portfolio though, this can be a very profitable business.
There are more than 74 million baby boomers in the United States today and as they age they want to continue the lifestyle their accustomed to. Most of them want to continue to live at home, but as they grow older they’ll be in need of more at-home care.
Because of this, there is a wealth of opportunity for businesses that serve the various needs of senior citizens.
Whether it’s helping out with driving and delivery services, cleaning, landscaping, pet care, or medically-specific requirements, this market is a deep well of possibilities for anyone who enjoys serving others.
10. Monthly Box Services
Subscription box services are one of the fastest growing startup businesses today and the vertices for these services are nearly endless.
Seriously, they range monthly tie subscriptions like Spiffster to Cuban snack services like Abuela Mami.
The business model is so appealing because it allows you to zone in on offering a premium service to a particular niche with continuous recurring revenue.
As the business grows, you can branch out to other products that people may want monthly or bi-monthly. This is exactly how Dollar Shave Club grew from nothing into a company valued at over $600 million.
11. Website Consulting
Remember earlier when we pointed out how every business needs a website? Well, many of them have no idea how to build or maintain a website and turn to outside help in order to get their business on the web.
If you happen to be an IT wizard with an eye for design, then the opportunities to custom build websites are endless.
You’ll need the patience and know-how to deliver a stellar website that aligns with your client’s vision, but you’ll be able to charge several hundred dollars for getting their idea up and running online.
12. Plus Size Clothing
With all the technology focus on this list of stellar startup ideas, launching a clothing business kinda seems out of place.
Customers and retailers are looking for more diversity these days and want collections and products that appeal to every body type.
There’s a real need in the fashion industry for more startups dedicated to curvy bodies and with 25 percent of women browsing through the plus size section while shopping, opportunities abound for the right products.
13. Professional Organizing
Just like virtual assistant, property management and website consulting, there’s a large market out there for those who can make life and business a little easier for others.
If you can declutter an overwhelmed mom’s closet or help a business owner finally tackle the storage room that hasn’t been organized since the Clinton administration, your services will be put to use.
Obviously, this job is only for those who are highly organized and have an eye for making the most out of any sized space. As long as people are messy though, this job will need to be filled.
Bonus: Combine it with crowdsourcing and expand your business faster.
14. Gadget Repair
Cell phones and tablets are in the hands of everyone, yet most of us don’t know what to do past turning the device off and back on once there’s a problem.
People put their entire lives into these devices and can’t fathom the thought of going a day without them.
If you can repair a smartphone or tablet with a quick turnaround time, then you’ll always have customers.
Companies like iDropped smartphone repair are going national, but with the market for this service being anyone with a cell phone — so, everyone — this industry is going continue to grow.
15. SEO Management
As long as people continue to use their smartphones, tablets and laptops to find their next Chinese restaurant/ landscaping company/ personal trainer, this business will be around.
Businesses big and small want to do everything possible to ensure that customers can find them when a keyword is plugged into Google, and those who know how to work that internet magic are in high demand.
Knowing how to manage SEO really well isn’t something that one stumbles onto, there are hundreds of algorithm classification factors; but it offers a passive income route to earn serious online revenue.
The Bottom Line
While the business world is constantly changing and trends come and go, there has never been a better time to be a burgeoning entrepreneur.
The internet has allowed us to reach a greater audience faster than ever before and with that comes not only new businesses, but new ways for old business ideas to find greater success.
All of the business ideas above are on the upward swing, but it’s up to you to find the one that fits best and make it your own.
Building a successful startup fast isn’t easy–you’ll need to make difficult hiring decisions, invest prudently in the technology your company will be reliant upon, and be constantly ready to change course if things go south.
Furthermore, ever-changing market conditions can thrust your otherwise prosperous startup into jeopardy, despite the fact that you did everything properly. Remaining flexible and fostering a persevering spirit are, therefore, essential parts of being a successful startup leader. Keep that in mind, and everything else will naturally fall into place.
Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com
|||^||McKinsey & Company: Starting Up: Achieving success with professional business planning|
|||^||TechHR Series: Why You Need Human Capital Management Technology Stack to Build Your Startup Business|
|||^||Readwrite: How New Tech Startups Can Differentiate Themselves|
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