So you’re getting ready to finally launch your startup? This is an exciting time, albeit filled with anxiousness, late nights, constant planning, meetings, pitches and caffeine.
By this point, you’ve already decided what your big idea is and have likely done plenty of research into what competitors are doing or not doing. For the sake of ramping up and preparing to launch, let’s take a look at some of the intangibles that go into Day One of your startup.
Knowing when and how to start a business is just as crucial as knowing everything about the startup space you’re jumping into. Consider the current times we are in, coming out of a pandemic. Many businesses, unfortunately, had to close due to issues from lack of demand to not being able to sustain a few months of negative cash flow.
However, for you, this may be just the opportunity you needed to take advantage of a burgeoning space and introduce your idea to the world. The startup space isn’t easy, nonetheless. With only 40% of startups becoming profitable, success may rely more on the intangibles than the product itself. Be sure to put in the time to research current consumer trends and the characteristics of a successful startup in order to create a stable business structure from the start.
Put Your Best Brand Forward
Odds are you’ve heard the term “brand” about a thousand times before, and heard everyone who owns a business, studies business or is looking to open a business beg that they know the most about the topic. There’s no need to go into the definition of “brand”, but as a startup up, your brand, and the image it portrays from the start, is crucial.
So, what are the things that go into your brand image?
Voice & Style
The way your startup communicates in advertising and marketing can create a lasting first impression for many consumers. Knowing who you are targeting and how to speak to certain demographics is key to crafting your brand’s voice and tone.
Everyone who works at your startup is a walking billboard for your brand and can be a reflection of your culture outside the office. Many companies run by the slogan that “our people are our biggest asset” (we’ll expand on that later).
Trust From Consumers
Having consumer buy-in is critical. A few bad reviews, a poor reputation early on regarding your product/service, or stances your company takes on issues can be a make or break for consumers looking at your startup as a thought-leader or just another company.
Ultimately, as the founder or co-founder, you must become comfortable with the spotlight constantly shining on you. Your actions, whether related to your startup or not, reflect on your brand at large and can also be an ingredient for your rise or demise as a brand. Putting your best brand forward at all times is a challenge. From time to time your startup may decide to pivot or diversify your offering and even go through internal challenges. Regardless of what you face, trying to tackle issues in a positive brand light can help you down the road immensely.
Assemble Your Team
Hiring for a startup isn’t the same as hiring for an already established business. As opposed to existing businesses, startups are in a unique position having to strike a balance between finding driven, enthusiastic employees who can handle the innate challenges of proving the startups’ concept, and going through periods of unbalance which is natural in the startup space.
A study done by Carta shows that nearly 1 in 5 employees at startups quit within the first year and the cumulative retention rate by Year Three can be as low as 50%. Employees at startups can leave for a number of reasons, from insecurity in their position due to funding, to frustrations over organizational change, and even leaving for something newer and more interesting.
For these reasons, among others, startups can’t rely on experienced professionals interested in getting in on the ground floor of a new business that isn’t yet proven. Hiring the right people early on not only has the potential to affect your startup’s culture but can also be a huge expense saved from losing out on high turnover and training costs for those who aren’t the right fit.
Triple Down on Your Core Competencies
Knowing your brand and what differentiates your startup from the competition is crucial. Being new and shiny isn’t enough anymore to stand out. Today’s consumer is extremely savvy and has more options than ever when it comes to products and services to pick from.
In order to stand out from the pack and succeed, Investopedia says you must use today’s modern management theory, which relies on businesses defining, cultivating and exploiting their core competencies to beat competitors.
The purpose of tripling down on your core competencies is to expand on the modern management theory. The more work and testing you put into your startups’ core competencies, the more unique and less likely to be open to competitors your business will become.
Get a Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion on a topic is always a good idea. If you are the sole founder, you’ll want to surround yourself with a close-knit group of advisors to lean on for topics ranging from specific financial conversations to the less formal discussion. This person can either be directly involved in the day-to-day, a business coach, or a close friend or family member whom you’ve also sought advice from.
As a founder of a startup, it can be easy to be swept up in your company’s early success, positive news stories, and lucrative funding rounds. If you are lucky enough to be venturing into the startup world with a friend as a co-founder, rely on their expertise and passion and work with each other to keep yourselves grounded during exciting times. Not only does a co-founder help you psychologically, but startups with more than one founder are nearly 20% less likely to scale too quickly which eventually leads to pitfalls down the road.
Aside from brand purposes, speaking to multiple financial advisors for their takes on the health of your company and what moves may be beneficial is certainly worth the initial upfront cost as opposed to running into cash shortages and bottlenecks down the road. While a financial advisor can help your startup navigate the financial side in a savvy way, having a money person on your team and seeking out advice from an accountant is paramount to success. An accountant can delve into your books and help you organize financial statements. Not only is an accountant nice for a second opinion and look, but you can be confident that when it comes time to putting together financial documents for investors, everything will be done professionally.
Jumping into the startup arena is an exciting time, without a doubt. With this comes many hurdles, challenges and roadblocks, but also the potential to truly make a difference in the space you’re in.
Aside from the minutiae of your day-to-day, taking care of the abstract aspects of business can be just as much a difference-maker: from your brand image and the type of attitude you look for in the people you hire to asking others their opinion and tripling down on what makes you unique. Obviously this list is easier said than done, but if you keep these in the back of your head, along with your expertise and drive, your startup will soon be launching to success.