You’ve got dreams, expertise, resources. But getting your startup off the ground requires more concrete steps. It takes concentrated, focused, productive effort. And tons of research. There’s no single sure-fire recipe, but the ingredients for long-term success should include these critical first steps.
1. Brainstorm your marketing plan. What product(s) are you selling? What needs are you meeting? Who will you sell to? How will you reach your audience? Why should your audience buy? What stands in the way of a purchase decision? What’s the competitive landscape? What makes your product intrinsically different and better? How can you distill it all into a compelling elevator speech?
Do not try to answer these and other marketing-related questions in the echo chamber of your head. Take a consultative approach. That means enlisting advice from subject matter experts you trust—people who may or may not play an eventual role in taking your business to the next level. To develop your business plan, start from widely available templates if necessary. But craft your plan in a way that captures your company’s ethos and unique selling proposition. With a strong, credible plan you can settle many of the critical initial details and chart a course for bringing your product or service to the people who need it.
2. Develop your own goals. Think these through, with detailed, realistic deadlines and milestones. When do you expect to land your first client or customer? Hire your first employees/associates? Have a prototype ready? What would it take to scale up? Do you even want to scale up? How quickly do you see the business growing? What will you consider a successful first year? What about monthly revenue and expense projections? You don’t want your corporate to-do list to read like a cakewalk, but you also don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Make your goals ambitious, yet achievable—and above all, well researched. And be prepared to review (and revise) your goals relative to performance on a regular basis.
3. Name your business. Use both sides of your brain, because this step requires both creative and hard-nosed discipline. Naming is a communication exercise. Your name is a stand-in for your brand promise. It should communicate what you do and how prospects can benefit from reaching out to you. Maybe it’s just named after you—in which case you’re the product. Maybe it’s aspirational or descriptive. Or straightforward. Hint: Never, ever tease potential customers when you should be informing them.
4. Create a structure. Is your business a sole proprietorship? A limited liability company? Will there be ownership shares? What are the responsibilities of the stakeholders? These variables will shape your financing, operations and governance—and each entails its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to define these variables up front, so everyone involved in the business has clear-cut objectives and can work as a team. You don’t have to write out detailed policy manuals and job descriptions at this early stage, but you should have a general idea of what will go in those documents when they need to be developed. This step also helps you zero in on the types of people you want to work with going forward.
5. Create a DreamSpark account at Pango Financial. Our acclaimed DreamSpark plan lets you unlock retirement savings—your own or pooled with others—to generate tax-advantaged cash to build your dream business. So you don’t have to go through costly and time-consuming hassles of applying for traditional financing. There’s no cost or obligation to bring yourself up to speed on the details of DreamSpark. When you do, we’re confident you’ll want to take advantage of this innovative financing option. Learn more about Pango Financial and our DreamSpark plan by calling 1-855-WHY-PANGO (1-855-949-7264). Our advisors will walk you through the process and help you get started.