The world of entrepreneurship is changing rapidly. With start-ups launching, succeeding, and failing seemingly on a daily basis, it’s never been easier to get your amazing business idea off the ground and into the market. The ethos of the startup culture — move fast, work hard, break things — encourages entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams with almost reckless abandon. But if you’re about to endeavor on your first startup journey, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a successful launch.
Do Your Research
Even if you’re certain that you’ve hit on a billion-dollar idea, it’s worth asking around to make sure that other people are as excited about the product or service as you are. And don’t just ask your friends and family — they’ll tell you that your product is amazing even if it’s not. Instead, turn to the community with the most honest critics: the internet.
Use online communities like Quora and Reddit to solicit constructive criticism on your startup idea. Specific subreddits like r/startups and r/Entrepreneur are great places to discuss ideas with interested and enthusiastic creators from all over the world. Of course, be prepared for some harsh critiques; the internet has never been the place for politeness.
Build Your Audience First
There’s nothing as disappointing as launching your big, groundbreaking product only to get no response. An underwhelming launch is the direct result of not working to build your audience in advance. Create an online presence for you and your brand through free resources like WordPress, Medium, Betalist, Product Hunt, and social media accounts. As you publish content and resources related to your industry, followers will become more and more interested in what you’re doing. By the time you’re ready to launch, you should have a group of supporters excited about your new product or service and ready to spread the word to their friends.
Never Stop Studying
Even if you become a leading expert in your industry, there will always be things to learn about the different aspects of running a successful start-up. Follow influential leaders in growth and marketing like Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, Sean Ellis, Peep Laja and learn from their expertise and experience.
Don’t hesitate to contact these leaders directly and ask for advice. While you may have a few doors shut in your face, odds are that you will get some useful tips and land on their radar as a thoughtful new entrepreneur. Networking can only help in the world of startups, and eventually other entrepreneurs may be coming to you for advice. Enjoy the opportunity to pay it forward.
Don’t Go All the Way
The history of entrepreneurship and creation is littered with products, services, and leaders who failed in their first venture only to land on a huge success in a later project. Even a breakthrough product like Apple’s iPod struggled in its first few years — with exorbitant pricing and Mac-only compatibility, sales were slow before the Apple team worked out the kinks.
The same could happen with your product or service — initial bugs or glitches could prevent you from becoming an overnight success. Instead of exposing your half-baked product to the world, do a miniature Beta launch to a small group of people who can discover the kinks and help you solve problems before your major launch. This type of troubleshooting can be invaluable for your reputation and success.
Use Your Tools
Many startup employees are so engrossed in their own world that they aren’t aware of the free tools available in other industries. Free analytical tools like Google Analytics, Firebase, and Hotjar can help you understand how users interact with your product, service, or website. Productivity tools like Asana, Capsulink, and Buffer can ensure that your systems are working as efficiently as possible. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp and SendGrid help you to stay in contact with your audience. All of these tools and more can boost your startup without costing a cent against your bottom line.
Fine-Tune Your Product
Nothing is perfect. Even after doing a soft launch and working out the glitches in your product or service, there will always be room for improvement. Commit to an endless cycle of testing and tweaking, testing and tweaking. It’s all in service to your users; the better the product, the happier they’ll be. Your audience will appreciate the commitment you show to improving their experience, leading to good word-of-mouth advertising.
Build Your Dream Team
As you earn money and notoriety, you can double down on your success by inviting superstar developers, marketers, and growth experts to join your enterprise. Building your dream team of employees can help take a startup from being a mild success to a wild phenomenon. Some CEOs can be afraid to surround themselves with smart people, but they only end up stunting their own growth. Put your best team on the field and you will be rewarded with your best performance.
Think About Revenue from the Beginning
When you’ve landed on the big idea that is going to launch your startup company, it’s often too easy to forget about how you’re going to finance your business. If you’re lucky enough to land some investors at the beginning, you may get caught up in playing with “house money” — by the time you’ve figured out where your revenue is going to come from, it may be too late. Make a brutally realistic plan from the beginning of where your cashflow is going to come from and how you can sustain your business long term, otherwise your startup will end up in the graveyard of failed businesses next to others who flamed out too quickly.