Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps

How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps

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.

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 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[1], 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.

Advertising

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[2].

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.

Advertising

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[3] 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.

Advertising

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[4] 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.

Advertising

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[5] 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 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.

More on How to Start a Startup

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.

30 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Make an Impact 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank 11 Organizational Skills That Every Smart Leader Needs How to Be a Good Manager and Effective Leader Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Trending in Entrepreneur

1 How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps 2 10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year 3 How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed 4 How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs 5 How to Become an Entrepreneur (Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

Advertising

2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

Advertising

Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

Advertising

This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

Advertising

“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next