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Published on July 10, 2019

How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps

How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps

With the United States currently enjoying an unprecedented period of economic prosperity, millions of entrepreneurs are eagerly tugging at the leash to launch their own startup in the hopes that it will garner them millions. 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.

Don’t let the dispassionate cruelty of the market sink your startup’s prospects before it ever gets a chance to shine. Here are the 5 essential steps you’ll need to follow if you want to start a startup fast.

1. Start by Plotting 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 which 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’ll want to review this comprehensive business planning manual that’s been made publicly available by the commercial gurus are McKinsey, as this will elucidate the fine details you dare not ignore if you want your startup to be prosperous sooner rather than alter.

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 which details 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.

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2. Launch Your Recruitment Efforts

The second crucial step towards starting 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 which 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 of starting your startup quickly; 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 lacklustre recruitment drives that drum up meagre 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 21st century startup which isn’t tech savvy is going to struggle to attain success, so consider investing in human capital management tech which can expedite the hiring, training, and management processes.[1]

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 launch 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 for the get-go; when trying to climb to the top of your local market, you’ll face stiff headwinds from established businesses which don’t want to cede an inch of their turf to your nascent company.

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Rather than stand idly by as major companies try to stomp on your still-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 with. Pricing your goods and services in a competitive fashion is an age-old tactic that’s 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[2] 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 which 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 which fail to differentiate themselves will inevitably fail, particularly now that we’re in the era of specialized services which 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.

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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 which demand IT expertise to truly master, so having some digital gurus on your side will doubtlessly bolster your outreach to customers. Knowing how to use tech[3] to take your startup to the next level may be the deciding factor that determines your overall success.

Don’t be afraid to do your IT homework before continuing if you want your business to make it in the long run.

5. Understand That You’ll Soon Have 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.

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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 leagues.

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[4] 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.

Final Thoughts

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 must constantly be read 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 thus essential parts of being a successful startup leader – keep that in mind, and everything else will naturally fall into place.

More About Starting a Business

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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