There's no doubt that the first stages of starting a business are some of the toughest to get through. But there's also no reason to be overwhelmed, if you approach these tasks in order. Here are essential seven steps to help get your startup off the ground.
1. Give it a name. You can't take a baby home from the hospital without a name, and you don't want to give birth to your startup without one either. Sift through the possibilities and narrow it down to one. Select the name that sounds right, looks right and encapsulates what your business is all about. It will define your business from day 1, so make sure it's a choice that excites you!
2. Register your domain. Once you decide on a name, you'll need to register a domain for your startup.
Adam Itkoff, who co-founded the nonprofit Inspirational Medicine Foundation in 2012, suggests buying similar domain names and the various extensions too. "Registering Inspirational Medicine.org was a breeze, but we highly recommend registering similar websites like .net and .com in order to consolidate your brand," Itkoff says.
3. Begin building a site. "Designing a website from scratch is a thing of the past," says Joshua Weiss, CEO of TeliApp Corporation, a mobile app startup. "If Wordpress and Joomla are good enough for the big guys, CMS is certainly okay for the small business startup. Buy an awesome, versatile and customizable theme from Theme Forest for under $100."
Then add content and some basic SEO. "You can find great SEO codes for free by typing search words in Google, and within a couple of weeks you've got organic results popping up," Weiss says. "Get your friends and family to click into your site at least once a day to build up the ratios for the search engine spiders."
The user interface for your site will evolve over time. "We started with stock photos," Weiss says. "Once we hired our graphic designer, she ramped up and evolved what we look like."
"Start tweeting interesting stuff, not constant bombardments of nonsense, otherwise nobody will follow you," Weiss says. "Start following as many people as you can. For every 600 people you follow, about 100 will follow you back."
5. Talk to other entrepreneurs. Some of your best ideas may come from those who have already been there.
"I think mentorship makes a huge amount of difference and helps keep the company accountable to someone other than the founding team," says Jilliene Helman, CEO of Realty Mogul, a crowdfunding site for real estate.
Seeking advice helps you plan for the days and weeks ahead.
"Ask other business owners what motivates them," says Vannessa Wade, who launched Connect the Dots PR this year. "At some point the phone may stop ringing, a client may decide to part ways or you have to tackle a major problem. Chances are another business owner has the same story. Why not seek knowledge from someone in the game?"
6. Dig into the details. Successful entrepreneurs see the big picture, but they also don't neglect the details.
Before Adrena Martin launched CreationZ from A Dove, a handmade jewelry and accessory business in April 2012, she says she did a lot of detail research.
"I learned how to obtain a business license," Martin says.
Martin says she dove into taxation details as well. "I wanted to be sure that I did everything right from a legal standpoint," she says.
7. Stock up on sleep. Even though your head is swimming with all those startup ideas, now is the time to get some rest. "The founder is usually, as in my case, the everything person, from soup to nuts," Weiss says. "I wear a dozen or so hats, have no free time and haven't slept since our first day of work."
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