Management positions in successful global companies are one thing – and you are probably one of the top players in the game. But have you ever thought about establishing your own startup company? Have you ever dreamt of raising your own baby – from the raw idea to small steps in form of business planning, founding and first sales up to a solid return on investment?
The startup company game can be even more fascinating. It probably includes a higher risk of failure than a salaried position – but it also promises an unbelievable journey brimmed with self-fulfillment. This perspective triggers many female leaders in our community to think about founding their own business. However, ruling the game of management jobs does not necessarily mean that you have enough knowledge about establishing your own company.
This article explains the founding journey in 7 simple steps – from the product/service idea to introducing it into the market and starting making profits. You will notice that it is not as hard as you might have imagined.
Your unique product/service idea
When you want to start your own business, usually the product or service idea is the first thing that came into your mind. Which other reason should you have? If it would be all about money or just for the “status” of being a business owner, it is unlikely that your business even take off the ground.
Instead, your product or service should be at the center. Not even that – actually, the upcoming industry 4.0 requires to put your customers into the center. That means you should find a product or service that optimally serves your customers’ needs. So when you have a certain product in mind, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Does your product/service fulfill your customers’ needs better than others do?
Which additional value does your product/service have?
Why should a customer buy your product?
How exactly are you going to fulfill your customer’s needs?
When communicating the answers to all these questions to the outside world for marketing, we recommend having a look at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.
Design the business model for your startup company
After having thought about your product deeply, you should make plans more concrete. Having an idea in mind is one thing, but to set up a profitable startup company, you need to find out which possibilities you have and which you want to choose to make it real.
The most used method for this purpose is probably the Canvas Business Model. It simply provides the right questions to set up the frame for your startup company. From key partners to revenue streams and distribution channels – by filling out the model you will identify your lacks and think about solutions.
This step often needs several weeks. You should take your time, writing down new ideas every day and rearrange them again until everything fits together.
Deep Market research
Before diving into the new adventure and investing a lot of money, you should first check out the market – if not already done simultaneously with step two. Deep market research is asked here. It is not enough to just have a quick look at Google whether your product or service idea already exists. If you end up your research saying “we don’t have any competitors because our product is so unique” you are on the wrong track. There are always competitors that serve the same need somehow.
So you have to identify them and find out HOW they are satisfying this need. This research will not only make you aware of competitors, but it will also give inspiration to what you can do better – or what makes YOUR product unique. Knowing this, you can develop your USP even clearer.
Moreover, you will find out if there is a market for your product or service. Without any demand, it will not be sold – doesn’t matter how good it is. As you may already know due to your daily business – market potential is key.
The core team of your startup company
After you discovered the market potential and developed a rough business concept, you should build up your core team. Depending on the complexity of your product or service, it is, of course, possible to start a one-woman business, but as you may have noticed already, a strong team can accomplish better results.
Choosing the right team members is key. On the one hand, it is important to pick people that have the same passion and vision for your product or service as you have. Often, you are founding a business with your closest friends or past business partners. Here, it is important to distinguish between private and business affairs. On the other hand, they need to have special capabilities. Having talented people – each of them an expert in their business field – should help you to impose your business to a new level.
So which talents are absolutely necessary? First, you should include a charming and equally numbers orientated salesperson in your team. What would be the best product without someone capable to sell it? Facing digital transformation, you should also have an engineer on board. A third person should be talented in supply chain and production.
Even when the necessity of a business plan is currently in discussion, we would still suggest to set up a detailed business plan. This plan should include everything you defined in previous steps like core team, product/service description, if applicable a production plan, market research, financial analysis like break-even point and investment and a marketing plan. It basically represents your business model in detail.
A business plan is still valuable for investment purposes. If you cannot fund the startup company with your own money, you need to look for investors and since an elevator pitch is not enough as it only opens the door, your business plan Will be a critical element to convince your potential financial partners.
Minimal marketing for your startup company
Once the planning phase is done, you should start implementing it. Before providing products to the market, it is important to do some marketing. The marketing budget does not need to be too high at the beginning – of course depending on your investment – but some basic marketing tools can be applied with little money. Social Media presence, your website and Google advertisements count as basic marketing activities to look professional.
But before being able to serve them, marketing starts in your mind: Which logo represents you best? Which colors should you choose? Which style can represent your core values best? Basically: Establish your very unique brand and business identity. This brand should always have your customers in mind. It should communicate your vision and values – so that your target group feels a deeper connection to your startup company.
Minimal product – the lean method
When your branding and minimal marketing activities are done (or meanwhile), you should start to produce a minimal version of your product. Years ago, companies developed the final product first – which just needed years – and recognized in the end, that it is not the product people actually want to buy. It simply does not fit to the market.
A huge trend in the startup scene is the lean startup method. It means that the product is developed near to the market – so the customer can participate in the product development process. The idea is simple: Reduce your product or service to the very minimum that still represents your core values like quality etc. That means special (and expensive) features should not be applied at the very beginning.
The minimal product is then thrown into the market – waiting for customers’ feedback. Your task now is to collect feedback, analyze it and apply it to your product. Doing so, your product will match exactly to the needs and wants of your target group – because it is designed by them – and you saved a headache desperately searching for the right features.
Seven simple steps to your successful startup company – they inspire you to start your own journey right now, aren’t they? Of course, this instruction does not replace deep research, but we hope you lost the fear of the unknown. The root may be set in your mind herewith – now start changing the world for the better with your unique business idea!