All great businesses begin as ideas. It sounds incredibly simple, but it’s true. The complicated part is understanding the bridge all entrepreneurs must cross to get from the idea stage to an established business. When only 12% of all first-time entrepreneurs succeed with their startups, it raises the question of what one must do. Unfortunately, there is no magic combination of steps to take to bring your idea into the startup stage and secure success. It comes down to having the drive and motivation to see your idea through. However, you can better your chances of success by following this four-step process.
1. Identify and research your market
If you want to ensure that your product or services will be successful, then you will have to identify a need in the market. Start by asking yourself why: Why do you need to introduce your startup to the market? What is the key purpose? Once you identify why your business is needed and who will benefit from it, you will need to research your target market, as well as your competitors.
2. Bring a prototype before an audience
It’s not enough to bring your idea before investors or your potential market; no one is going to buy into an idea if you don’t have the stats and a product to demonstrate its success. Establish an MVP (minimum viable product) in order to get the feedback you need to perfect your idea into a successful business model. Every startup ever, even Facebook, had to go through a test phase where customers determined its value.
3. Craft a financial plan
Your startup will never take off if you don’t have the funds necessary to support it. Start by figuring out exactly how much money you have at your disposal to start and determining if it is enough to launch your business. Develop a detailed financial model to give yourself an idea of how your business will operate and the goals you will need to accomplish to make a profit. Eighty percent of all startups are self-funded, but if you don’t have the funds you need right away, you may need to consider other sources of capital such as a loan, friends and family, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Research the rewards and risks associated with each to find your best option.
4. Market your brand
The final step to securing startup success is utilizing all of the tools at your disposal to market your brand to the world. Testing your product or service in front of a small audience is crucial in the earlier stages, but ultimately you will need to test your business out on a much larger scale in order to take it to the next level. You will need to craft a detailed PR strategy that encompasses both offline and online tactics.
If you follow these steps, you are likely to find success with your startup. However, don’t think that the hard work ends once you make it to this pivotal point. You will have to consistently put in the effort; according to Entrepreneur, “…running a successful company is about continually innovating and adapting to new market demands.”