How to Create a Startup: A Quick Guide
Do you want to learn how to create a startup? Do you already have some ideas in mind? If so, you’ve hit the right link! But before you move forward, there’s something you need to know. Launching your own business is a long-term process and it won’t happen overnight.
As you read this article, you’ll come to understand the steps that come before starting this journey. If you already know the basics, you should check out some of our startup education articles. But if you’re new to the entrepreneurial universe, or you just want a general recap of this topic, we encourage you to read to the last sentence.
8 Steps to Create a Startup
“Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.” You have probably heard The Scientist, a song by Coldplay, right? This is how you’ll feel when you start working on your startup idea.
We don’t want to scare you, but you need to be ready for each of the following steps.
- Ideation and Solution/Validation
- Find your Dream Team
- Customer Persona & Customer Validation
- Prototype & Validation
- Marketing Plan & Building a Landing Page
- Business and Revenue Model
You’ve probably noticed the word Validation at some of the different stages, right? Validating your idea, customer persona, and your product, via your prototype, is key to success. This means you need to be ready for feedback, critics, and above all, to pivot and replan.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” This statement by Theodore Levitt, Marketing Professor at Harvard, explains how customers think about problems. In fact, they may be looking for a solution they didn’t even know they needed!
This must be your mindset as you go about problem-solving. But first, you have to locate your problems.
Finding a problem to solve can happen in different ways. Awareness of a problem can arise from a new experience or a passion that you already have. Emma Bridgewater, Founder of one of the biggest pottery factories in the UK, found her problem while on the hunt for a birthday gift for her mother.
Back in 1984, she wanted to give her mother a set of cups and saucers that would say, “I love you. I miss you.” She looked in numerous china shops and realized that all the available products were nothing like what she wanted.
This was the moment Emma realized that she could start creating what she had imagined finding in the china shops: A wonderful array of colourful, mismatched pottery.
We all have situations like Emma’s. These arise when we aren’t satisfied with the provided solutions and come up with our own ideas. During these experiences, you can obtain insight into specific problems and how to solve them. When this happens, ask yourself:
- Is this a problem or a passion that many others have?
- Is this problem serious enough to warrant solving?
- How often does the problem occur?
- Who are the customers with this problem?
Check out this video from Udacity, a for-profit educational organization that offers online courses about how to choose a business idea.
2. Ideation and Solution Validation
Once you have a problem in mind, you need to find a solution. It’s time for ideation.
According to Manuel Tanger, Head of Open Innovation at Beta-i, ideation is all about having numerous ideas. It’s refining solutions, filtering out the “not-so-great” from the reasonable, and then testing them. “Once you have reasonable ideas, you need to take them to the real world, ask people what they think of your ideas, and refine them.”
Finding that perfect problem-solution fit demands an understanding of the market and the customer alike. You need to do extensive research on the problem to understand the market size and opportunities. This will help you to develop a competitive advantage and create a startup that will succeed.
3. Find your Dream Team
If you have begun the startup process by yourself, it’s time to find a team.
Identify your most powerful skills before starting your talent hunting. A great startup team needs the following roles:
- CEO: Leads the team with vision, respect, and responsibility.
- CBO: Supports the growth and creates value by innovating sound business plans
- CMO: Introduces your solution to the world
- CTO: Manages tech requirements
- CDO: Manages and coordinates your startup’s design initiatives
You want people who will embrace and boost the project. Don’t search for skill alone. In order to create a startup, the entire team will need to know how to adapt and work on different roles when necessary. A good team fit is also extremely important. Look for people with whom you enjoy working, especially in the early stages.
4. Customer Persona & Customer Validation
To reach your customers, you’ll need to know who they are. Defining a target audience is not enough. You will need to create a Customer Persona.
A customer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data. This means knowing relevant information such as educational background, personal demographics, and job role. You’ll need all of these when creating your persona. To make it simple, you can use this tool from Hubspot.
Don’t forget that this is just the first step! You will also need to validate customer identity for your startup idea.
The best way to validate your customers is to interview them. Justin Wilcox, Founder of Customer Development Labs, explains that you need to create a context to get real information when interviewing your potential customers.
5. Prototype & Validation
Ready to bring your business idea to life?
A prototype is the best tool for testing both the potential and the necessary functionality of your idea. It’s all about using visual resources to describe how a product, service, or system works. It’s also the smartest way to think about product design. This stage must be completed in two steps:
Create a Paper Prototype
Develop a Digital Prototype
It doesn’t matter whether your project is a physical product, an app, or any other kind of digital solution. A paper prototype is fundamentally important when creating a startup. It brings about the special moment in which you begin to see your idea realized.
You’ll need to be creative too. Use paper, markers, and post-its to design your paper prototype. Once it’s completed, you can start testing your idea with your real people. These can be your friends, family, or colleagues. Let them play with it! As they do so, pay close attention to their user experience.
After collecting all the information, it’s time for improvement. You can now start adapting your solution, either removing or adding features, based on feedback, to reach the next step. Read about the step-by-step paper prototype process here.
The next step is the digital prototype. Most people think you need to know how to code in order to create a digital prototype. Not true! There are a number of free online tools. In particular, we recommend:
- Adobe XD
- Marvel App
To learn how to create a digital prototype for your start idea, check out this article.
The digital prototype allows you to test-drive ideas for your product or service in a safe and cost-effective way. After creating your digital prototype, testing with real users, and adjusting according to feedback, your startup idea will have become more than just an idea.
6. Marketing Plan & Building a Landing Page
Now that you have your prototype, you can announce it to the world!
To create a startup for real, you’ll need a marketing plan. Define your short and long-term goals, and how these will be managed strategically.
What message do you want to deliver? What’s the unique value of your solution? You’ll need to answer these questions to start your marketing plan. You will also need to define which channels your startup will be on: Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter? Your persona will give you the answer.
An important piece of the marketing plan is the landing page (LP). This is where you’ll redirect your visitors and convert them to leads. An LP needs to give straightforward information about your solution to your potential customers. It’s also where you’ll be collecting users’ data.
This is the moment you’re finally reaching people with a real interest in your startup idea. Let’s look at a real example to make things easier.
Paperchain is a fintech company working at the intersection of media, finance, and technology. The company has a platform that facilitates the payment of royalties in the media industry. The story of the company is amazing and worth reading, as is the LP.
With a direct message to its niche group, this LP creates context and asks only for an email address in order to start interacting with leads.
If you want to see more examples of effective landing pages, read this post.
7. Business and Revenue Model
This can be the scariest stage for many young entrepreneurs. But if you want to create a startup, you’ll need to have a business and revenue model.
First of all, you need to understand the difference between them:
- A business model describes how the company will generate value for its customers, and revenue is included in it. One company can actually operate several business models at the same time.
- The revenue model is about describing how a company generates revenue. Each customer segment can contain one or more revenue streams.
The business/revenue stage is the point at which you have sorted out every factor related to your sales process. Your business and revenue models need to take the following into consideration:
- Product launch timing
- Channels used for customers acquisition
This is also the point at which you will figure out costs. This means the per-unit cost of producing your solution as well as logistics and operations. It’s not only about income, but balance.
There are numerous models that you can use to create a startup. However, it’s always important to understand the advantages and disadvantages before you decide what suits your business best.
Phew… You’ve reached the final stage of the startup process. But this doesn’t mean your work is over. Actually, this is just the beginning of a new journey!
In case self-funding is not a possibility., there are some different ways of getting money to your startup idea. It all depends on your solution and business model.
- Take Out a Loan: Having debt doesn’t sound fun, but it’s one of the ways to create a startup. You can use your personal network (family & friends), banks, or public loans.
- Crowdfunding: What about offering great rewards in exchange for funding for your startup idea? By creating a cool crowdfunding campaign you can get the money you need without taking on new debt.
- Grants: Don’t expect to get all the money you need. However, grants are a good option for funding your business. Local governments and private businesses often provide grant opportunities. Use Google to find the best option near you.
- Investors: If you have watched the Shark Tank show, you probably know what an investor is. But, don’t be fooled by television… There are different types of investors to fund your startup idea.
These are just some of the possibilities. And you don’t have to pick only one. You can begin with money from your family or crowdfunding. Then plan to pitch to investors or apply for a grant. You need to plan out the best and most viable ways to develop your business.
Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of this post. As mentioned in the beginning, this is an introductory guide. Now you are ready to go deeper into each step, explore each link, and extend your research.
Excited to create a startup? Read more helpful articles on our blog!
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