Entrepreneur and author Eric Ries perfectly summarizes a startup as “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”
Creating a successful business in an unstable environment can be challenging and, at times, even overwhelming. From basics like choosing the right name and incorporating your business to finding customers and investors, there is a lot to consider.
This guide provides a 10,000-foot overview of the startup process to prepare you for what lies ahead as you learn how to start a startup.
Phase 1: Early Ideation
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Just because you have a stroke of inspiration doesn’t mean it’s worth turning it into a business. You need to vet your ideas properly. Before you start investing time and resources into an idea, ask yourself a few questions, such as the following:
- Is your idea a “good” idea that will resonate with others besides yourself?
- What consumer pain point, want, or need will your idea meet?
- What type of business model should you adopt to turn the idea into a reality?
- How much money do you need to get your idea off the ground?
The last question is, "Do you have enough money to fund your idea to the next phase?" If the answer is no, then you'll need to seek investor capital.
If your idea needs investment to even get started, it won’t be easy to just fire up a solopreneurship and fund your idea as a home-based business. When seeking venture funding, you want to position your startup as thoroughly as possible before you start seeking out investors. You can do this by:
- Conducting market research and creating a competitive analysis to define how your business will provide a unique selling proposition (USP)
- Coming up with a thorough business plan with key details that potential investors will want to see, like a financial section, a marketing plan, and comprehensive descriptions of products or services
- Using your business plan to figure out how much capital you need at a minimum to move forward from the ideation phase
- Utilizing a tool like Bubble to develop wireframes, create product prototypes, and come up with a clear depiction of your idea in action
This early phase of how to start a startup can feel slow. But remember, you're putting the basic framework in place. When that's done, you can begin to think about building some momentum.
Phase 2: Validation & Investment
Once you have a solid idea in place, you've conducted market research, and you have a thorough business plan, it's time to start turning your business's potential into reality. You can begin this phase by:
- Incorporating your business
- Considering if you should patent IPs (intellectual properties) associated with your idea
- Using your prototype to generate targeted feedback from consumers
If you start to get positive vibes from those who see your prototype products or services, it’s time to push toward formally launching your company.
It’s advisable to create as much of the infrastructure as possible before you seek funding in relation to your launch strategy. For instance, Bubble’s web app builder makes it affordable to build a fully functional prototype or minimum viable product and launch it for only $29 a month.
Depending on the size of your business idea, though, you'll need to seek out investors sooner or later. The good news is that there are a lot of different forms of capital investment that you can seek out at various points during a startup. Funding sources can range from friends and family members early on to venture capitalists and angel investors further down the road.
Another option is to apply to a Startup Accelerator, as was the case with Airbnb. In some cases, you can even crowdfund your startup funds. Tech accessory brand Elevation Lab managed to raise $1.6 million using this funding route.
Once you've decided on the financing route you want to pursue, consider if you'll need a pitch deck. A pitch deck can give you a streamlined way to present key pieces of information to potential investors.
Fortunately, you can use a lot of the information in your business plan to inform your pitch deck. Make sure to follow some basic rules, too. Startup accelerator YCombinator suggests keeping pitch decks:
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable with basic funding terms, like “capitalization table,” “timeline for growth,” and “due diligence.”
Phase 3: Launch
As mentioned earlier, if initial expenses are low, you may want to launch your company before seeking investors. Otherwise, once you've received some initial funding to launch, it's time to set things in motion. In this phase, you should focus on:
- Establishing your brand’s presence: This includes everything from a company website and social accounts to email, phone, and other communication channels.
- Preparing to engage with consumers: From sales channels to customer support, make sure you’re ready to create a positive impression with consumers. A customer service plan is essential here.
- Setting up a launch strategy: Finally, create a plan to launch your company. Seek out marketing opportunities, like working with influencers to promote a product or paying for PPC (pay per click) ads. These are areas where having some funding in place beforehand can help.
Whether you push off fundraising until later or conduct multiple funding rounds before and after a launch, it's essential to create a clear roadmap for your launch.
Phase 4: Scale & Beyond
Once you've vetted your ideas, set the stage, raised funds, and officially launched your business, it's time to think long-term and start to build on the initial momentum.
Depending on your business model, industry, and other factors, this may happen quickly or take years to play out. In either case, it's important to keep your finger on the pulse of your business's growth.
Lean on tools like Bubble to keep the ideas flowing. Continue to fundraise, strategize, and otherwise take whatever steps are needed, too. That way, you can keep your new company pointed in a positive direction as you blaze a trail toward future success.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more.
Millions of users are building and launching businesses on Bubble—many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even raised $365M in venture funding. Bubble is more than just a product. We are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs who are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.