So you’ve created an amazing product or service – now it’s time to turn it into a business! Here are some helpful tips and resources to consider before you head off on the road to startup success.
1. Be smart when it comes to finances.
Financing is one of the biggest hurdles any small business will face. A good way to take some of the pain out of money matters is to make a list of anything you can get free or at a reasonable rate. Ask friends or family members if they can help you – if you can offer a discount or free sample of your product in return, it could help sweeten the deal.
When it comes to running your business, getting paid and having a healthy cash flow is essential. Therefore, it’s vital that you take control of your invoicing process from the onset. Not only will this ensure customers see you as professional, it will make sure that you are rewarded for all your hard work.
At Xero accounting software, we’ve produced an invoicing guide with the some of the best methods to help businesses get paid faster.
2. Consider cloud computing.
A recent survey by Rackspace Hosting found the vast majority – 92% – of startups they talked to said cloud technology has been essential in the early stages of their development. For those who are new to “the cloud”, we’ve produced a quick and easy cloud computing guide to break down some whys and wherefores. While you do need an internet connection to work in the cloud, it has plenty of silver linings, which include (but are not limited to):
- Outsourcing IT – Using the cloud means you have less need for specialist skills, allowing you to concentrate on your core business function.
- Integration – You can choose from a wide range of applications from accounting software, online invoicing, or inventory management that will integrate smoothly with one another and provide real-time data.
- Accessibility – Data saved in the cloud is accessible from any device with an internet connection, so you can work anytime, anywhere.
- Saving on capital expenditure – Most cloud computing services let you pay as you go so your software can easily adapt to your startup’s growth.
- Security – If your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it even if your hardware is lost, stolen or broken. What’s more, most cloud computing providers are just as secure as online banking, so your data is extremely safe.
3. Set clear goals and plan thoroughly.
Establish your business goals early on and incorporate them into a business plan. Ask yourself, are your goals achievable? Are you striving for personal fulfillment? Money? To raise awareness? Use your plan to help cement your vision and make sure any collaborators, employees and investors share a vision for your startup.
Have a good team behind you. A team is only as strong as its weakest member, so there’s no point in launching until you have a team you can trust – and who can trust you.
Get legal advice in the planning stage. This will keep you from wasting precious time or money by heading in the wrong direction. If you have a friend or family member who’s a lawyer, they may give you a good rate. Either way, it’s imperative that you speak to someone to avoid making mistakes.
Alternatively, you can check out online legal advisors. LawPivot encourages individuals and startups to ask their legal questions online. They’ll ask for your state and the area of law you’re asking about so they can determine the best lawyers to answer your question. Similarly, Upcounsel lets you ‘post a job,’ then matches and alerts attorneys who will come to you with quotes for their service.
4. Understand the importance of branding.
Make sure to think about how you want to brand yourself early in the process. Think about how your startup will present itself – sustainable, fun, eco-friendly, tech savvy, ethical, humorous… It’s vital that your businesses brand is recognizable and represents you. Remember, your brand isn’t just a symbol or title – it’s everything that makes up your identity.
Your brand will help determine everything from your business name, logo, and look of your website. In other words, you should measure every decision your company makes against your brand. For example, if your brand is eco-friendly, you don’t want your marketing strategy to be focused on print advertising!
5. Find an office space that suits you.
You’ll probably spend at least half of your waking hours in the office – so it’s important that this space works for you and any staff. You might need to do a list of the pros and cons of different types of office space – whether it’s a home office or bought, leased or shared space – for your business. Then consider:
- Design and aesthetics – Think about what the building looks like to people in the area, business associates and potential clients. For many entrepreneurs, their building will be their first impression; so make sure you get the right message across.
- Space – You’ll be surprised at how quickly you use up your space. Often people end up needing more than they think. Also, consider whether you’ll have clients or business partners stopping by and how you’ll cater for any meetings you host.
- Equipment – Check that you have enough power points and can get a decent internet connection.
- Plan ahead – Where do you see your startup in the future? Make sure that your space can easily adapt to your vision, or that it will be easy for you to expand or change your location when the time comes.
- Think of the people – Employers are increasingly realizing the importance of company culture in the workplace. While this doesn’t mean you have to create an all-staff Harlem Shake video, it is a fact that happy employees equal productive employees. Consider whether they have enough natural light, a staff room or kitchenette, adequate parking, open-plan layout, and air conditioning/heating.
If you need inspiration, check out Mashable’s behind-the-scenes look at the offices of nine hot tech startups. What advice would you give to someone organizing a startup?
Lucy Godwin lives in Wellington, New Zealand, and works for Xero accounting software. Her job exposes her to the small business, startup and entrepreneur community. Godwin blogs about everything from marketing to the cloud to financial tips. Connect with her on Twitter @LucyJaneGodwin.
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