If you spend every free moment daydreaming about prototypes and product designs, it's time to start thinking seriously about founding your own company. But how do you turn an exciting idea into a successful business? Follow this step-by-step checklist to launch your startup and keep it running strong.
Lay The Foundation
Research & choose your market - Don't spend time & money solving a problem nobody cares about.
Design & develop your minimal viable product - what essential features will your customers pay for, & how much should you charge.
Select a business structure - LLC, partnership, corporation, nonprofit...
Write a business plan - Make it as thorough as possible to avoid surprises and wo investors.
Protect your assets - Stake your claim on patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names, etc.
Pick a name - Just don't latch onto one you love without considering how potential customers will perceive it.
Find Advice & Support
Find a co-founder or partner - Find someone who complements your strengths and weaknesses.
Find a mentor or community - A supportive network can offer advice, help solve problems, & commiserate with typical startup struggles.
Choose your funding type - bootstrapping, crowdfunding, loans, equity investments... compare the pros and cons before deciding.
Research compatible investors or services - Investors can offer a lot more than capital, including strategy & advice & networking opportunities. If pursuing crowdfunding, compare fees, funding types, audiences & visibility before choosing.
Create your pitch deck - A compelling presentation gets potential investors as excited about your company as you are.
Find your support team - Business bank account, insurance, lawyer, attorney...
Make it official - Register your business with the government to get the EIN, permits & licenses you need.
Comply with the law - Safety regulations, Equality Act, work authorization: know your legal obligations towards employees.
Hire Your Team
Build a great team - It doesn't stop at hiring -- develop a vibrant culture to keep great talent for the long term.
Find an office - Outgrown your garage? Find an official space for your thriving team.
Market & Sell
Establish your brand - Consider your company's personality and purpose when developing your brand.
Research & create detailed customer personas - How old are your customers? How much do they make? Where do they live? Hobbies & habits?
Create a strategy - Experiment with different tactics to see what sticks.
Make Success Sustainable
Learn from others' mistakes - Keep your startup strong by watching out for your biggest threats.
Find tools to run your business - The right tools can help you manage the chaos of startup life.
Learn to lead - Your leadership style can make or break your startup, so keep soft skills a priority.