Starting a business is not easy! In fact, it’s darn right difficult, especially if it’s your first crack at founding a startup or if you don’t have much money / support to start with. There’s a reason 90% of startups fail… but you don’t have to be part of that club. Assuming you already have a great idea that you’re passionate about and think has the potential to make it big, here are 5 tips for getting your startup off the ground!
I cannot stress this enough. There’s a reason the average age of a successful startup founder is 45. They not only have the experience, but also (often) the savings to help their business succeed. The first few years of founding a startup can be pretty rough: you often make little to no money, struggle to secure funding and face the hurdles of developing an MVP. If you have savings, you can bootstrap something together and rest a little easier knowing that you have something to fall back on if things don’t quite work out. Alleviating the stress of “how can I afford next month’s rent?” will be seriously helpful when you’ll be stressed enough already with the startup!
Your friends and family love you and trust you, and can provide a great deal of emotional and financial support during your startup journey. In the US, the second biggest source of seed funding, after personal savings and credit, is friends and family. So don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for investment, a loan, or if they’re feeling especially generous… a gift! This can help you get the ball rolling and develop an MVP, and give you some great pitch practice when you run your business plan past them (which you definitely should be doing!).
On the emotional support side, founding a startup is tough and you’ll face challenges on a daily basis. It’s therefore super helpful to have a strong support system that you know you can rely on when the going gets tough. It also makes small (or big!) victories that much sweeter when you have people to celebrate with.
Founding a startup is intensely rewarding… but it can also be extremely draining. You have a lot on your plate, likely work around the clock and encounter setbacks and failures on a daily basis. Those that persevere through it all are the ones that succeed.
But how, you may ask, can I cultivate resilience? Firstly, try and be as adaptable and flexible as you can to changing situations. You can plan for the future… but ultimately a lot of it is unpredictable. Whatever comes your way, tackle it with optimism and hardwork and you’ll do just fine. Secondly, be purposeful and mindful. Resilient people have clear goals, motivations and directions. These enable you to devise effective solutions during times of crisis.
Networking is crucial. Reach out to any entrepreneurs you know, experts in the industry, financiers, people at the same stage in their startup journey as you, and anyone else you think could be useful! Talk to as many people as possible (without becoming that annoying, needy friend of course) and soak up their advice and feedback on your startup story to date. They’ll be great to bounce ideas off, and might even introduce you to potential investors and employees… which is invaluable. While ensuring you stay respectful and polite, don’t be afraid to send people emails, message them on Linkedin and attend startup conferences. The startup scene in London is incredibly welcoming and nurturing and can help you get started. People want you to succeed!
If you want to secure venture funding, which can often be crucial for your startup’s success, you’ll need to develop a bullet-proof business plan.
Investors want to (1) understand how you plan to operate your business and (2) determine your projected growth rates and how they stand to gain by getting involved. They can’t do either of these things if you don’t have a developed business plan.
They want to see a clear overview of your business – the nuts and bolts who you are and what your startup mission is / will be. They also want to see some rational market analysis, including detailed research on your competitors, how you are positioned within this space, and your target audience. Additionally, you should definitely outline your organisational structure, mission and values, as well as how you plan on managing your company.
Perhaps the most important part of your business plan, however, is your financials. Do your best to construct a 3 to 5 year financial model, and make sure your predictions are realistic and not overinflated. Outline, if you can, when you think you’ll be profitable and how.
On a personal level, a clearly defined business plan will give you direction and a road-map to success. It will help you navigate challenges and seize opportunities!