How to start a startup: useful advice on what to do

How to start a startup, how many times have you heard these words with the impression of knowing their meaning but without being able to explain the details if someone wanted to ask you? This is because the idea of “startup” resides in your head but it is one thing to know generically and another to understand how to deepen and explain to others.

In this article I will explain to you:

  • what is a startup;
  • what are the basic steps to launch a startup;
  • some ideas to start a startup;
  • how it is possible to bear the costs of starting a startup.

So you can get useful advice to start imagining your own (or more simply learn information to use with colleagues, friends, or relatives, if this is your interest). If, on the other hand, you want to get serious right away, read everything and discover the Startup Program.

What is a startup

A startup is a new company, a new business, or a recently born business. “That’s all?” you will ask yourself. Not really, that’s just the general idea.

Going into detail and making use of the experience of Mr. Steve Blank, an entrepreneur with a reputation as an avid founder of startups as well as a lecturer in famous Californian business schools, we can define a startup as “a temporary organization designed to seek a repeatable and scalable business model”.

The difference between a company and a startup can be summarized as follows:

  • “Normal” company: it has already identified a functioning business model and its attention is directed to carrying it forward in the most profitable way possible.
  • Startup: is looking for an attractive and functioning business model. Better still, it starts from an idea that is only potentially interesting and developable, which must be validated and transformed into a concrete and profitable business.

Compared to a “normal” company, the term startup is often associated with innovation. And, in particular, to technological innovation. Strictly speaking, the definition of startup does not necessarily imply the idea of technological innovation and is instead more linked to the search for new businesses.

But with the development of the Internet, new media, and, more generally, the increasingly massive spread of digital culture, the element of technological innovation that simplifies life or allows you to do things that were unthinkable until recently, is practically always present in every new business project of this type.

Without forgetting that by now no company that wants to operate profitably on the market can afford not to use the tools offered by technology and the digital world.

The elements that distinguish a startup are therefore:

  • temporariness,
  • Research,
  • Innovation.

How to start an innovative startup in 7 steps

How to start a startup from scratch? These are the highlights:

  • what is a business idea;
  • why it is important to analyze the market and potential competitors;
  • how to find the funds to launch a startup project;
  • which business model to choose;
  • the importance of the team and the people you will collaborate with;
  • business plans and MVPs;
  • market validation.

1. Find the business idea

How to create a startup starting from an idea? The birth of a startup starts from a good idea placed in a social, cultural, and economic context ready to welcome it, and from a medium-long-term project designed to transform this idea into reality.

how to start a startup ideas

If we shifted our attention away from wanting to be something that doesn’t represent us, we would realize that most of our companies, albeit small and very vertical, are enjoying great success in the market in which they operate.

The key to success is therefore not to find a startup that winks at large, highly financed, and advertised overseas companies, but rather to open a startup that is coherent with our current historical-political context.

We’re lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so why not turn your love of the land into a profitable business? If you live near a seaside resort, you might think about launching a startup that allows others to enjoy the most beautiful things your land has to offer.

Another possibility to create a startup is linked to the production of excellent food products. You could start selling them online by starting an e-commerce business and advertising them using the tools made available by the Web and Social Media Marketing.

If, on the other hand, you are passionate about foreign cultures and languages, you could turn this skill into a real business. As? Giving tutoring and online coaching lessons that can be used live or on-demand, using one of the many tools made available by Digital Marketing.

The world is full of interesting ideas for launching a successful startup, but the best one might just be yours! Stop wondering which ideas work and which don’t. Start from your passions and identify among them those that can help you create an innovative startup.

You will have to submit your ideas to a careful analysis that will allow you to understand if your dreams of glory are destined to remain so or if there is a real demand for the type of product or service you would like to launch on the market.

Whatever your plan, remember that the product or service your startup will offer must:

  • Solve a problem;
  • To achieve a goal/satisfy a wish;
  • Simplify people’s lives.

Everything must be studied with a more or less specific, more or less large target in mind, depending on the products or services offered and the business model followed.

2. Study the market and the competition

One of the first steps on how to create a startup is to analyze the competitors. Whether a startup offers products or offers services, it will still have to deal with the competition. Indeed, if after having analyzed the market one realizes that that type of product or service is not present, it will be necessary to make further reflections:

  • the idea is so brilliant that it has never been contemplated;
  • it might not be a good idea

study the market and competition

In the first case, we need to be careful: the right idea at the wrong time and place could prove to be as counterproductive as a bad idea (we speak of “time to market”).

So, launch your startup by entering the target market at the right time: neither too early nor too late. In the first case, the demand may not yet be ready to accept your offer while, in the second case, you may encounter a competitive and saturated market.

Studying the market and any competitors will be useful for:

  • understand what are the trends of a given sector and how that sector is growing and evolving;
  • find the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and exploit them to present themselves as a valid alternative, with its characteristics and peculiarities (we speak of Unique Value Proposition or UVP);
  • understand what the target audience will be, the target to which you intend to address (it may be the same as our competitors or a different target);
  • discover the business models used in a given sector;
  • check the characteristics of the products or services on the market;
  • study what the current promotional channels and tools are and then use them for your benefit.

Furthermore, all this analysis will give you an in-depth knowledge of the sector in which you operate, which potential investors will appreciate, and which will lay the foundations for the realization of the project.

How do you study competitors?

You can start with the basics, that is, using search engines. Visit the website or social pages of the competition. Or read articles and press releases about her. Having learned more general information, you can go into detail using tools useful for analyzing web traffic, SEO, ads, blogs, and social media.

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3. Funding a startup

Finding the funding to create a startup is essential. The first issue that afflicts all startuppers is finding capital. Leaving aside all those projects that aim to found large companies, if the goal is to create an innovative and niche startup, large sums of money will not be needed to start it up.

funding a start up

Nothing can be combined through small savings and targeted loans. Instead, what you should pay particular attention to are:

  • know-how,
  • capacity,
  • knowledge.

For a startup, therefore, having a potentially good idea and knowing the market and the competition are two fundamental aspects. But they are not enough. A good idea must be implemented, and to achieve it you need money. So how is it possible to finance a new business project?

The possibilities are different. Here are the main ones:

  • Relying on your resources (Bootstrapping): if feasible, using your savings or relying on the help of family and friends can be a smart way to launch your startup. In fact, self-financing gives greater autonomy and no debt to take into account;
  • Use crowdfunding: by communicating your project in the right way, your idea of the work and the passion behind it, through the Internet it is now possible to obtain the support of people from all over the world. More and more entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators make use of the numerous platforms born with this purpose to realize their idea;
  • Make use of the help of informal investors (Business angels or angel investors): getting to benefit from this form of financing means that the start-up concerned has already reached a good level and has passed the startup phase. Business angels are usually private investors who finance business activities in exchange for shares. The money received does not have to be returned as the startup that benefits from it sells ownership shares in exchange for money;
  • Financing of specialized financial companies (Venture capitalists): they provide capital to emerging startups that show potential growth margins. They usually invest and pledge to secure high rates of return, sometimes by acquiring shares in the supported firm;
  • Use startup incubators and accelerators: these are ad hoc programs designed to provide support to startups, not only from an economic point of view but also for training and the creation of networks and relationships, for the protection and development of the nascent project;
  • Take advantage of public tenders and subsidized finance: Young startups can also rely on contributions, often non-refundable or in any case disbursed with low-interest rates, allocated at regional, national, or European levels to encourage entrepreneurship in the area.

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4. Decide which business model to follow

Another fundamental aspect to take into consideration when deciding to open a startup is the business model. In reality, a business model concerns various aspects (for further information, refer to the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder) but here we are talking about monetization.

How are you going to generate revenue? There are many ways of earning revenue and each product or service, depending on the industry it belongs to, can be made available in various forms. Choosing the most suitable form or forms of monetization can be decisive for the success of your business.

Don’t forget that a particular monetization strategy could count as a Unique Value Proposition. An example of a business model is Netflix: based on a subscription and not on payment for each film or TV series. This form of monetization is also the UVP of the streaming giant.

The main monetization models for a startup are:

  • Commission revenue model: each transaction corresponds to a payment;
  • Subscription revenue model: provides for a monthly or annual payment for the use of a service;
  • Freemium: a free part and a paid part;
  • Ads: allow you to generate revenue based on interactions deriving from ads relating to products or services.

5. Choose the team to work with

To be successful as a startup you need to surround yourself with competent and professional people. Human capital always makes a difference, even more so when trying to transform an idea into a project and then into a reality.

To face the difficulties and challenges that opening a startup poses, having capable and passionate collaborators by your side can make the difference between success and failure.

create a startup

No one can start a startup, from inception to market launch, alone. There are too many aspects and skills required.

Business is not just about having a good idea. You also need a good human resources department and a team capable of managing and carrying out the organization of the company, solving problems, and guaranteeing the achievement of results.

If the founder or founders are those who, in the common imagination, has the main role and the one that generates the admiration of those who look from the outside, then it is the people who work as a team every day to determine the success of a startup.

To find and keep the right collaborators, there are a few points to keep in mind:

  • The founder or founders must have their own knowledge and limits very clear and surround themselves with people who integrate them, completing their skills and experience;
  • Hard skills (technical skills) are important but so are soft skills (personal qualities). The latter will make it possible to manage difficult days and periods as well as relationships within the work team;
  • The team must work as a single organism. Communication within it is of great importance and each member must at least be aware of what the other members of the team are doing;
  • Creativity, typical of start-ups, must be constantly nurtured and each person must be free to express their ideas. Different perspectives from different personalities foster business growth;
  • Everyone should work with the “vision” that guides the company’s business clearly in front of them. This vision will also allow attracting new talents and new possibilities;
  • Motivation and commitment must be nurtured by assessing whether the needs and desires of the work team members are satisfied or need more attention.

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6. Create the business plan and start with an MVP

A business plan and Minimum Viable Product are two very important elements for a startup. Even if one concerns the starting phase and the other a more advanced moment of the process, they can be treated together because they have a common characteristic: they are in the making.

Both are born in one way and are gradually refined and improved thanks to market response and customer feedback. Starting from the business plan, field experience shows that those who plan are more likely to succeed than those who don’t.

What is a Business Plan? It is a written document that outlines ideas and strategies for launching and managing a startup, or at least a company.

It should contain detailed information on:

  • Who we are and what we want;
  • Why does our company exist;
  • Where do we intend to get the funds we need from;
  • How we plan to monetize;
  • What are the company’s long-term goals;
  • How we plan to achieve these goals;
  • What marketing strategies do we intend to adopt;
  • Who the work team is made up of and how it is organized;
  • Schedules and deadlines.

Based on these key points, it will be necessary to draw up a “light” business plan, which can be modified based on customer feedback, evaluated at regular intervals, and gradually readjusted until the optimal balance is reached.

Precisely in this sense, and reminding us of what was said earlier about being in the making, it is possible to connect to the Minimum Viable Product.
The goal is to speed up the process of refining a product or service and to do it gradually based on the answers coming from the market and customers.

This allows on the one hand to “come out” with a product or service without it being complete and definitive and on the other to test the effective correspondence of the product or service to the needs and requirements of customers.

An MVP is a provisional version of a product or service with the minimum functionality necessary to allow it to function and to understand how to develop and improve it further.

7. Get market validation

The last step in starting a startup is market validation. With it, it is verified whether everything previously done has a market ready to accept it. If there is no market ready to accept an idea, that idea will not generate revenue and profits.
Thus determining the failure of the startup.

Validation is a process that starts from the initial idea, passes through market approval, and ends with customer satisfaction. Who will first become paying customers and then loyal customers?

Through validation, it will be reasonably possible to understand if there is a place for a product or service in the reference market and if people will buy it.

Furthermore, validation may also be useful for building trust and increasing the chances that investors and lenders will consider the idea of supporting the nascent project.

Conclusions and free strategic coaching

Studying the world of start-ups is the first step to be taken by anyone who wants to undertake a project of this type.

In this regard, our school offers a program specially designed to help entrepreneurs acquire the technical and strategic skills necessary to create a successful startup. Through the Digital Coach startup Program, you will have a complete training experience, with a strong practical-operational slant.

Do you want to start realizing your business idea? Get off on the right foot!

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