How to startup?

100 steps to startup

Posted by on November 29, 2015

Step by step guidance for your startup

I am presenting 108 points for your startup journey. In India, 108 is an auspicious number, it has great importance. So here is the list of 108 steps to be followed for a startup.
  1. Identify a big problem that you wish to solve and figure out what change you want to make in the world. Nothing else matters and you should not even be beginning a company until you know the change you are passionate about making, personally and professionally.
  2. Find out if anybody has solved this problem previously? If yes, then consider them as your competitors.
  3. Find a  relevant solution by researching the industry and your competitors (if any).
  4. Figure out how you can solve this problem, better than your competitors (if any).
  5. Determine how to create your product/service.
  6. Entrepreneurship is a difficult task, so you will need a team. Find co-founders and other team members. The  skills of co-founders should complement your own and can help you achieve more.
  7. Identify a mentor or advisor who can help you throughout your startup journey. Offer equity or monetary benefits as per your budget.
  8. Talk to potential customers and users for feedback, ask them will they buy your product/service and what price they would be happy to buy?
  9. Think of few names for your company and brand, you will need 3-4 names options while applying for registration. Registrar of companies approve a name after a complex process, you have to reapply with another name if the proposed name gets rejected, so be ready with name options.
  10. Register a domain name, hosting and corporate emails.
  11. Prepare a presentation of your business, it will be helpful for showing to customers, team members etc.
  12. If you are looking to raise funds then you should also build your pitch deck.
  13. Create the financial reports including the projections, revenue streams, costing and budgeting.
  14. Determine how much capital is necessary to get to cash flow positive by calculating your cash flow break-even point.
  15. Get feedback on the pitch deck from your mentors, advisors, friends, and family.
  16. Select a incorporation consultant or ask your advisor about it. If you have the knowledge then you can fill the online form and apply for incorporation of your company yourself.
  17. Incorporate and obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS (in US). If you are in India, then you may not need such registration for hiring a team.
  18. Open your company's bank account that is called current account in India and checking account in US.
  19.  If your startup is in US then you should talk to your attorney about whether you should make an 83b election.These are often important in significantly reducing your taxes in a very legal way by paying your taxes upfront when you start a company.
  20.  Build a basic product prototype or Minimum Viable Product(MVP), a term coined by Eric Ries which has become very common in startup circles over the past couple of years.
  21. Create employee agreements for your team members.
  22. Create confidentiality agreements for everyone, both employees and contractors, from the beginning.
  23. Hold your initial Board of Directors meeting, which could just be with yourself or maybe two board members that you appoint.
  24. Create your Restricted Stock Unit (RSU) plan and/or your stock options plan that enable you to provide equity ownership and incentives to your employees to gain ownership (through ESOP) in the company over time. Often you want to vest those options over a period of four to five years.
  25. Issue share certificates to yourself and to your initial founding team.
  26. Fund your bank account with the initial capital contribution either coming from yourself, friends or family, or peer-to-peer lending organizations like fundable, kickstarter, wishberry, catapoolt etc.
  27. Determine whether you need outside capital to start and how would you raise it?
  28.  Raise any initial capital that you would need.
  29. Apply for a corporate credit line for future needs.
  30. Set up your accounting software and begin putting in your chart of accounts.
  31. Select your payroll provider or software application so you can actually pay your employees.
  32. Consider trademarking the names of your company and products and apply for patent if needed.
  33. Design your logo and other graphics.
  34. Create business cards, letter head, invoices, flyers etc.
  35. Find office space to work out of (if you need to), you may consider a co-working space.
  36. Furnish your office or co-working desk as per the theme of startup
  37. Purchase any software or hardware you need or rent them (hardware).
  38. Get Internet access set up, which is obviously critical in a technology startup.
  39. Obtain a Universal Product Code (UPC) if your product is going to be sold in stores.
  40. Design any labeling and packaging if needed.
  41. Finish your initial alpha/prototype product and bring it to market regardless of whether it’s a tangible product or an intangible software good.
  42. Get initial user and customer feedback of the actual product/service.
  43. Order your initial inventory, if needed.
  44. Design the website of your startup and optimize it for speed and a nice UI/UX.
  45. Install a tracking tool like google analytics on your website, it will be used for analysis.
  46. Add a shopping cart if you choose to pursue e-commerce.
  47. Get a merchant account if you want to accept credit cards and online payments like ccavenue, paypal, paytm, payu etc.
  48. Sign up for an email list tool like iContact, MailChimp, constant contact
  49. Optimize your website for the search engines by adding content or adding a blog and getting other websites to link to you. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO).
  50. Install a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system—a tool that can track your customer base and the interactions you have with your customers and users.
  51. Hire your initial staff to be able to begin your operations.
  52. Create your company vision, mission objective and policy statement.
  53. Register on social media like facebook, linkedin, twitter, google plus etc.
  54. Announce your product launch to the local and social media.
  55. Hold your launch event and start selling.
  56. Establish a quality control department.
  57. Hire a team to fulfill your orders and provide customer service.
  58. Start an affiliate program or distributor program, which enables you to get other people to sell your product for you for a percentage of the sale.
  59. Recruit affiliates, promoters and distributors.
  60. Set up an ad tracking system so you can track your advertising and the results, conversion rates, and cost per lead.
  61. Try different online advertising techniques like pay per click (PPC), cost per million (CPM) advertising with a small test budget.
  62. Try different versions of ads on different platforms and then analyze performance through defining segments and channels.
  63. Optimize and scale it as needed.
  64. Determine the cost of acquisition per lead for each segment and channel.
  65. Determine the conversion rate for each channel. Then you can combine those to determine the customer acquisition cost by channel.
  66. Calculate the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer. Once you know that, you’ll know how much you can spend to acquire a new customer, which is critical to being able to scale your business’s marketing scientifically. If you can combine great storytelling with scientific marketing and trackable channels, you can rapidly grow your sales.
  67. Test your marketing and advertising with a bigger budget now that you know your LTV.
  68. Test social advertising and display ads, and calculate the return on investment.
  69. Scale your advertising up until the marginal cost of customer acquisition is equal to the marginal return from that customer acquired.
  70. Optimize your advertising to bring down your customer acquisition cost.
  71. Collect testimonials and use cases from those customers and perhaps even build a few PDF case studies.
  72. Create social word of mouth for your product, using a tool like HootSuite to manage what’s being said in the media about you, your product, and your brand.
  73. Create your first video advertisement and run it on youtube, vimeo etc.
  74. Attend the events related to your industry, growth hacking and scaling up.
  75. Consider increasing the sales of your products and services by offering discounts and offers.
  76.  Bring on a bookkeeper to automate your accounting system so you can stop doing it yourself now that you may have started to have some real revenues.
  77.  Create an employee directory, once you get beyond a handful of employees.
  78. Begin reviewing your profit and loss (or your income statement) and your balance sheet monthly.
  79.  Compare your initial forecast with actual results. Take the budget that you created before you began and compare that initial pro forma forecast with your actual profit and loss results. Compare the deltas and talk about them as you create your next iteration of your budget. Eventually you’ll begin creating budgets annually and locking in those budgets and calling those the plan, and then comparing actual results on a monthly basis against your annual board-approved plan.
  80. Create a sales and marketing team for further expansion.
  81. Create a sales compensation plan that enables you to pay someone either on a percentage of sales basis or based on the units they deliver by converting customers or up-selling customers.
  82. Set up a company healthcare program and other benefits for your employees.
  83. Establish your vacation and casual leaves policy.
  84. Test offline advertising carefully. You’ll want to put some toes in the water around offline advertising like direct mail or maybe local radio, and begin to test and get results and determine if it works for you. It takes a lot of testing to make your offline advertising scale.
  85. Create an online wiki or intranet for your company where you can keep track of your processes.
  86.  Create a digital company handbook that can be edited and improved by your employees, like a Wikipedia article.
  87. Open up a credit line with your bank. The best time to go after funding is when you don’t need it. If things are going well, go ahead and open that credit line.
  88. Create an offsite work policy. Some of your employees may want to work remotely. Generally, as long as they’re getting their work done and are able to show up to the meetings you do have, which should be pretty minimal initially, you should be able to enable them to work offsite a couple days a week.
  89. Once you can show that $1 in means $4 in revenue, raise capital.Until then, bootstrap as much as you can. Only raise your initial round of capital once you have a mathematical model for scalability, then go out and raise a true series A round of funding if you choose.
  90. Create a list of firms from which to raise initial growth funding.
  91. Update your pitch deck with the new data, new mentors, and new team members.
  92. Build relationships with industry bloggers and different people in the media.
  93. Seek product reviews, website feedback, service feedback etc.
  94. Hire an Executive Assistant (EA) or an office manager to manage your schedule and the business’s day-to-day tasks.
  95. Hold your first company retreat.
  96.  Take customer feedback and improve your product. You will want to create a product management process to incorporate customer feedback on an ongoing basis. Use this process to take your initial alpha, turn it into a beta, and then turn it into a general release, incrementally improving as you go.
  97. Get connected to investors through people you know.
  98. Have initial get-to-know-you meetings for investor feedback about six to nine months before you’re ready to raise capital.
  99.  Under-promise and over-deliver on your financial and milestone results for the next 90 days.
  100. Determine how much capital to raise. A good rule of thumb is to raise at least twice as much as you’re going to need for the next one year of operations.
  101. Return to the firms you like for partner presentations.
  102.  Do 15 to 20 partner presentations in 1-2 weeks. You need to have a disciplined, tight process for this.
  103. Get at least two term sheets.
  104. Negotiate and sign a term sheet.
  105. Complete all the diligence requests that come to you
  106. Close on your investment capital. Make sure the wire hits your bank account.
  107. Go for a grand press release and have the exposure to all the possible sources of media.
  108. Finally it's time to sustain what you have created. Sustainable development is the key to the growth, you must maintain the achieved level for some time before you get ready for scaling up further.
 If you have any query, then you may book a call and discuss with me over telephone. Here is the link to book the call: book a call
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