Starting a business for the first time can be overwhelming and intimidating. The key to success is breaking down the process into manageable chunks, being realistic about timelines and getting the right people and resources around you to help you achieve your goals. Below are ten steps to guide you in setting up your digital business.
Step 1: Define your concept
All entrepreneurs have ideas, but is your idea killer? If you're going to start a new online business, the first step is to crystalise your idea and define your concept. What is your product or service? What does it do? What doesn't it do? Who is it for? What's your vision for this business?
Step 2: Assess the opportunity & validate your idea
The second step is to assess the size of the opportunity for your concept - undertaking market research and competitor analysis to assess demand, unmet needs and gaps in the market. What is your value proposition? What is your competitive advantage? Why are people going to buy your product or service?
Step 3: Create a business plan
Business success requires planning. The third step is to create a business plan which includes marketing, sales, operations and your financial model, to determine whether your business idea is viable and to help you choose the most profitable business model.
Step 4: Fund your business
To turn your idea into a successful business you are going to need money. There are many options for funding a start up, ranging from borrowing from your family and friends to venture capital. Step four is choosing the right type of funding for your business.
Step 5: Build a brand
Back in the day they used to say, "If you build it, they will come". Building a great digital product is certainly one of the best marketing tools but these days it's not enough. Before you start building your product, step five is to choose the right name for your business and create a strong brand that differentiates you from your competitors, reinforces your market positioning and resonates with your target market. You don't get a second chance at making a first impression!
Step 6: Legally protect your name & intellectual property
Once you have come up with a brand name, step six is to register your business name, register the domain name and protect your intellectual property via copyright, trademarks and patents.
Step 7: Design & build your product
Your website and/or you mobile app is the most visible aspect of your business. Getting your product right is most critical to the success of your business. Step seven is designing, building and launching your minimum viable product so you can start testing and iterating as quickly as possible.
Step 8: Market your product or service
The success of any new business is contingent on driving highly qualified traffic to your product or service. Once launched measuring and optimising your product and marketing to maximise conversion of visitors into customers is crucial. Step eight is to develop a marketing plan using SEO, SEM, social, display and content.
Step 9: Form Partnerships
Brand credibility is one of the key weaknesses of any start-up business. Partnerships can boost a start-up’s legitimacy and credibility to investors, customers and other potential partners. Step nine is to form partnerships. These may be financial or could provide access to powerful other benefits such as distribution channels, or a combination of both.
Step 10: Recruit the A-Team
Finding the right office space, recruiting a strong team & building a great culture together forms the essential tenth step in starting up a business. Having the right people around you at the right time is imperative. Ensuring that you create a great vibe, instil common values and develop a culture that your team is proud to be part is critically important to whether your business will succeed.
Starting a digital business is like eating an elephant...you've got to do it one bite at a time.