If you are looking to found a startup, it is very important to have a well-documented business plan and an effective strategy. The quality of your plan and the experience of your team is how investors will determine if you are a viable investment option, and at some point you will need investor capital to reach the next level. Once you have a solid business plan, you will need to assemble the right team to bring your startup to life - in the first stages, this will likely just be the founders and co-founders.
How do I know if my startup idea is a good one?
Startups solve a problem in an innovative way. When you are looking for business ideas, you should be analysing the way that people do business or interact with technology in a certain area. Often startup founders notice that they have a problem which many others are likely to have as well or they recognise a weak point in a certain industry because of their unique perspective.
It is important to note that while many startups have changed the world, yours does not have to. A startup just needs to significantly improve upon an existing practice or function, in a way that makes large growth possible.
Once you have identified a problem or weakness, you must create an effective alternative and a plan on how to deliver it. It is unlikely you will have the funding to create your alternative from day one, unless you are an engineer or software developer with significant skill. Instead, a detailed plan and design should be used to attract investor funding (you should consider protecting your intellectual property before sharing these plans with others).
How do I finance my startup?
It is unlikely your business will make profit from day 1 or even day 100. If you believe in your idea, you will need to put your money where your mouth is and invest in it yourself, and then seek investor funding and capital after the concept has been established and you have detailed plans to substantiate your startup idea. Until you are able to monetise your business concepts or attract significant funding, you may have to utilise lean startup methodology to keep your expenses as low as possible.
Due to the lack of cashflow, it is vital you understand the fundamentals of bootstrapping and have a solid plan for the first 100 days. Otherwise you may find you run out of funding before you generate investor interest.
How do I grow my startup?
Once you are on your way, you will need to continue your product development until it reaches viability. In the meantime, you should be assembling mentors and advisors (who may eventually become your board members), to help you succeed. Some startup founders bring in mentors by giving them a share in the equity of the business in exchange for their expertise and assistance.
As the product is developed and the business grows, you will need to begin the important process of generating awareness and interest. Building an attractive startup brand and using PR to push it to the public will attract new customers and new investors alike.
Once you have a solid team in place, you have begun attracting customers and you have the capital to scale your business, it's onwards and upwards for your startup. Good luck!