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How to Launch a Startup

Starting a company is not for the faint of heart. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Success takes years of hard work.

If you want to start a company, you will need tons of preparation, a good mentor, a good team, and a willingness to work hard. 

If you want to book a call with a mentor, select from the list of vetted, professional mentors on mentordial.com

Here are some tips from other successful founders who started their own companies.

Launching a startup is not just about launching a site. 71% of businesses fail within the first ten years. It would help if you had a plan to launch. 

Identify the Problem

First, identify a problem before creating a solution. Spend time articulating the problem before you come up with the solution. Your job will be to create a product or service that helps people solve that problem. Gail Becker, the founder of Caulipower, had two boys with celiac disease. She was frustrated about how the industry handled gluten-free food. She found a cauliflower crust pizza recipe on the internet and spent 90 minutes making the crust. After quitting her corporate job, she launched her company, which eventually made over $100 million in sales in 3 years.

Do your Research

Now that you can articulate the problem you want to solve, you need to research. Conduct market research, run surveys, and interview customers to learn about their wants and needs. Ask customers for honest feedback. Do not get defensive and listen to them. Search for recurring themes. Do this often. Research your idea online. What are the current solutions, and how do customers feel about the solutions? Where are the opportunities for improvement? Researching the problem will help you come up with the best possible product. 

Interview experts 

People are always willing to talk about their experiences. The founder of Netflix might want to interview people who worked at HBO or Timer Warner Cable to see what pain points they went through to solve the same problem that Reed is trying to solve. Talk to people who are working on the same problem. Talk to a mentor who has experience with the industry. You can book a call with a mentor on mentordial.com. When talking to experts, ask hard questions.

Develop a product concept

Start testing the product with people. You do not need an implementation. Describe the product in detail to people. You could use a paragraph text description, concept sketches, or a Powerpoint presentation. Collect feedback about the idea before you implement it.

Launch an MVP and test

An MVP is the simplest version of the product with the core functionality. Let beta users test the MVP and ask them questions before and after the test. An example MVP might be Dropbox's video before they launched that explained the concept and asked users to sign up if they were interested in using dropbox. Once you get feedback about the product, iterate and improve.

Acquire customers

It is good to have friends and family using your product, but you need strangers to use it. Before you launch an MVP, test your product with users to see if they would buy it. Try to get verbal agreements from at least ten people that they would pay for the product. Once Dan Walling, cofounder of drip, found ten people to commit to buying his product, he created a landing page to get more sign-ups. 

If you can get people to buy the product especially before implementing anything, you are on to something. Run Google and Facebook ads and send customers to a simple landing page to sign up and convert. Iterate on the landing page copy. Iterate on price.

Get feedback and iterate.

It is essential to ask questions. What are the pain points that customers are having with the product? You might need to iterate on the idea several times before it is a fit. You might also need to abandon the idea if there is no interest.

Also, always remember, as an entrepreneur, you will need to:

Make Sacrifices

The CEO of Samasource lived on a friend's futon and ate ramen for a long time before she succeeded.

Ignore the Naysayers

People will tell you no. Do not listen to all of the negativity. The CEO of Intrepid Travel was given tons of negative feedback before he launched his idea. He launched his startup, got a few sales, validated the model, and invested every cent. Now, he makes millions of dollars a year for his startup.

Get started

You will never be 100% ready to start a startup. The CEO of Canva, Melanie Perkins, advises to just get started. Canva now has over 8 million users after two years with over 233 million valuations. Learn the things you need to learn as your startup keeps growing. Always be open to learning by reading books, watching videos online, and talking to a mentor.

Protect Equity

As you grow, you will lose equity to your investors and cofounders. Instead of losing equity, Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, paid a high school friend 2000 Ringgit to build the first website. If you can pay for something, avoid using equity. Never underestimate your ability to do something. 

Because a business might cost 10,000 or less or millions, most founders use their savings and credit cards to fund their businesses. 

Getting a loan will require a solid business plan; only 22% of small business loans go to small businesses because banks are less likely to give money to companies with no income or assets to default on. The best bet for early investing is friends and family. 

Know your customers

What are your customers' needs, wants, and fears? Knowing your customers means you will be able to build and market your products and services to them more effectively. Georgina Nelson, founder and CEO of truRating took to the streets to ask people questions about her idea. When she realized that there was a need, she sought funding.

Build your team

You will need to register your business name and get a federal tax iid number. Talk to a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor about what type of business to start and whether you will need insurance.

Determine whether you need co-founders to launch the idea or whether you have enough funding to pay for a team. You will need people who are very good at what they do. Take your time hiring the best people and fire fast if needed. Don't make the mistake of hiring only family or friends. Not everyone can work well in a startup.

Build a website

Your company will need a physical address. It is cheaper to buy property than to lease property.

Having an online presence is a must nowadays. A website will allow you to generate income. Once you build a website, you should use social media platforms to expand your digital presence.

Marketing

There are different types of marketing, such as SEO, SMM, and PPC. More traditional types of marketing include television, billboards, etc. The marketing with the highest ROI per $1 spent is Email and SEO. 

You can hire a marketing freelancer on fiverr or talk to a mentor on mentordial.com for your marketing needs.

Customer Service

Retaining customers is essential. You will make the most money from existing customers than from new ones. The best way to sell to existing customers is through an upsell. Your goal is to establish, build, and maintain a customer base. 

And finally, be happy

Starting a company is fun but very stressful. Starting a business might impact your mental health. Do not be afraid to seek help when that happens. Make sure you take care of your health and spend time with family and friends.

If you need help, book a call with a mentor on mentordial.com. Many of our mentors have started companies before and have had great success. We have mentors who raised millions of dollars in venture funding. Talk to them about their experiences and ask tough questions.

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