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5 Things a Startup Knows Before They Launch

Entrepreneur Coaching posted an article today about the ways startups know that they’re ready to open for business. I’m inspired by the story of the startup, and I’ve compiled what I see as the biggest identifiers of a business ready to take off.

A validated idea

If your startup aims to sell a widget the world has never seen, make sure the world, in fact, needs your widget. You have to know that there’s a solid market for your product, and your product’s marketability has to be worth it to investors. The size of your potential market isn’t even the focus for most venture capitalists, though below $500 mil and you might have issues, but how you plan to breach and expand within that market is crucial.

Ability to work with others to accomplish your goal

Every entrepreneur has a level of independence, creating new precedents all the time, but the desire to keep doing it all yourself is overrated and underdeveloped. You don’t need to prove to everyone that you can handle an entire business on your own. Impressive as it may sound to be capable of the task, you probably aren’t. You learn the most about what it takes to be successful when you humble yourself and lose sight of the ego telling you to do it all your way.

Clear values keep your business in check

Inevitably, there will be times where your business moves in an unfamiliar direction. The only way to ensure that it still fits into your model is to establish, from the get go, the values and defined goals of the company. This also eases any arguments or disagreements, as the only decision left to make will be “What best fits with our company’s mission?”

Your support system is more important than you realize

“I always say it takes a village to raise a startup,” says Margaux Guerard, co-founder and CMO of Memi, a firm touting wearable technology designed for women. “As an entrepreneur, you just can’t do this alone. You need the mental and emotional support of your friends and family to help you weather the storm.”

Guerard left her job as director of marketing at Diane von Furstenberg to start Memi with her business partner, Leslie Pierson, in 2012. Her first entrepreneurial venture has been an around-the-clock whirlwind–exciting, frustrating, rewarding and upsetting, sometimes all in the same day. She relies on her loved ones to help keep her on track.

Get feedback and refine your model, constantly

When Bayard Winthrop conceived his notion to manufacture an American-made hoodie, he outfitted hundreds of potential customers in prototypes and asked them what they thought. How did the fabric feel? Was it too rough? Too soft? Too clingy?

Without soliciting such detailed feedback from your most likely customers, says Winthrop, founder and president of San Francisco-based American Giant, you’ll never know if your idea is a good one. “We did everything from putting imagery up on the website to making 100 sweatshirts and getting them into people’s hands,” he says. American Giant has been credited with rethinking every inch of the typical hoodie, and the feedback got them there.

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