• Devansh Lakhani

Working for a big company & got a start-up idea on your mind? Here's how to make most of your time.

Everyone has ideas. Some of these ideas may be decent, while others are probably not so good. Even if your idea is great, there’s a big difference between having a great idea and creating a successful startup company.

While you’ll realistically take hundreds of steps to launch your company, I’ve narrowed down the top 7 steps that you need to take to get your startup off the ground.

1. Make a business plan

Having an idea is one thing, but having a legitimate business plan is another story. A business plan is the written description of your company’s future. You outline what you want to do and how you’re planning to do it. Typically, these plans outline the first 3 to 5 years of your business strategy. The business plan needs to be the first thing on your list because you’ll use it to help you with some of the remaining steps.

2. Self-financing your startup

The next step on the road to business success is figuring out where the money will come from to fund it. Where do you start? The best place to begin is by looking in the mirror. Self-financing is the number-one form of financing used by most business startups. In addition, when you approach other financing sources such as angel investors, they will want to know exactly how much of your own money you are putting into the venture. After all, if you don't have enough faith in your business to risk your own money, why should anyone else risk theirs?

3. Surround yourself with the right people

It’s widely known that one of the best ways to improve on a skill is to practice it with someone who’s better than you (think: tennis, skiing, poker, yoga, Boggle…) Yes, you will have to work harder, think faster and learn more fundamentals. You’ll sweat and have sore muscles, but after a while, your skills will improve and, eventually, you might even be good enough to teach someone else a thing or two. This idea of playing with someone better than you translate nicely to your personal and career successes as well, and that’s why it’s important to surround yourself with people who are winners.

4. Find a location and build a website

Your startup company needs a physical address and a web address.

Whether it’s offices, retail space, or a manufacturing location, you need to buy or lease a property to operate your business. Today, your company can’t survive without an online presence. It may sound like a tough task, but it’s really not that difficult. Once your website is up and running, you need to expand your digital presence.

Utilize social media platforms like:

· Facebook

· Twitter

· Instagram

· Snapchat

Your prospective customers are using these platforms, so you need to be on them, as well.

5. Become a marketing expert

If you’re not a marketing expert, you need to become one. You might have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it, then your startup can’t succeed.

Learn how to use digital marketing techniques like:

· Content marketing

· Affiliate marketing

· Email marketing

· Search engine optimization (SEO)

· Social media marketing (SMM)

· Search engine marketing (SEM)

· Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

The bottom line is this: Marketing needs to be a top priority for your startup company.

6. Build a customer base

If you’re following this plan in order, the good news is that you’re already on the right track to building a customer base. Starting a website, growing your digital presence, and becoming an effective marketer are all steps in the right direction. But now it’s time to put these efforts to the test. Open your doors (or website) for business. Getting a customer to make a purchase is the first step. But this isn’t nearly enough. You need to keep your customers coming back. This statement holds true for physical store locations as well as e-commerce businesses.

So, what’s the key to getting repeat customers?

It’s no secret.

1. Customer service

2. Customer service

3. Customer service

The customer needs to be your main priority. They are the lifelines of your business, and they need to be treated accordingly. Once you establish a steady customer base, you can use it to your advantage. You’ll get more money from your existing customers than from new ones.

7. Prepare for anything

Expect the unexpected. Launching your startup company won’t be easy, and you need to plan for some hurdles along the way. The difficulties that you’ll face while launching your startup company will help prepare you for the road ahead. Even after your business is up and running, it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing for the entire lifecycle of your company. As long as you’re doing these things, you’ll be able to fight through any obstacle your startup company faces in the future.

About Devansh Lakhani

Director of Lakhani Financial Services, and a Chartered Accountant, he helps start-ups raise funds from his network of investors. He guides and advises start-ups to scale up by providing efficient sales, marketing, team building, and business management strategies. He has executed fundraising by block deals on the stock exchange and conducted IPOs and right issues on the SME platform to the tune of over Rs. 50 Crore. He is currently working with start-ups from various sectors to help them channelize their business models and investments.

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