Startups are often founded when a business idea inspires a founder who can’t stay put until that idea is realized. As a founder, you might have a twinkle in your eye, an inexhaustible resource of energy and a will that literally helps you move mountains. These are the vital ingredients which get the ball rolling. But once you start really working on concept, ideation, and execution, you will have to consider a lot of other things as well.
This goes especially if your startup is a digital business. Doing some pre-launch research and ticking off certain things can help you immensely along the way. The digital landscape comes with many challenges and opportunities. And if you play your cards right, you will be able to use a boatload of these opportunities to the advantage of your startup.
Every startup encounters speed bumps and bottlenecks along the way. However, taking care of these five points can help ensure smooth sailing—or at least reduce potential delays—from ideation to launch.
Determine Demand. No matter how excellent an idea you are implementing and what a brilliant product you have conceived, if the market isn’t ready for it, you may not succeed at all. So before you launch your business, you should do your due diligence and obtain specifics on market demand.
Are people likely to use your products or services? Are there other competitors in the arena offering similar products or services? Are you offering the same products or services with a unique twist or innovation of your own?
You can easily determine the answers to these questions. Bring together a list of close contacts such as friends, acquaintances, old classmates, relatives, professional contacts and other people. Organize these contacts into difference audience categories according to your intended market audience. And serve them with a well-designed, brief and to-the-point survey meant to gauge market demand. This will give you a good idea of the market before you actually venture into it with your offerings. You can also use tools such as Google Trends to see if the product you are offering is being sought after by people online.
Bring together a capable team. You may be tempted to go solo with the whole startup thing but it is highly advisable to have a co-founder or a partner. Launching a startup is no easy task. You will be tested physically, mentally, emotionally and rattled before you make it to success.
Having a partner who can weather the storms with you, risk time and money alongside you, be there to give you a back-up when you feel disheartened at a temporary failure, and overall understand the vision, goal and philosophy of your startup as well as you – it can be the single most important decision for an early-phase startup. And yet, your co-founder and partner must be exactly on the same page as you. Any differences here can wreak havoc on your team dynamics.
It is also useful to have such partners or team members who bring valuable technical and operational skills to the startup, possibly against shares in the equity of the company if you can’t afford to pay them a regular salary.
Build a Reliable Infrastructure. Your digital startup will rely heavily on vital infrastructure, which may include on-premises servers, cloud hosting, data storage capabilities, and so on. It is absolutely critical to make note of your infrastructure needs and attend to them as a priority long before you launch your product.
There’s probably nothing worse for a digital startup than to reach a tipping point in demand, only for your infrastructure to fail due to overload. Thus, make sure you have a solid infrastructure in place which, which can rapidly scale following your product’s launch.
If you expect to cater to a global audience, one particularly useful solution is a content delivery network or CDN. While a good majority of publications and digital products already leverage CDNs to improve page loading and access speeds, one added the benefit of using such a distributed infrastructure is that a CDN can also improve the reliability of your product by helping manage the flow of incoming requests such that overloading is reduced or mitigated.
Implement top-notch security. Your digital business will routinely gather data from the users and store it in your databases. Malicious hackers may be tempted to try and access this data or otherwise disrupt your business activities. And they can easily accomplish this using a wide range of tools if you haven’t sufficiently secured your infrastructure. Digital businesses are particularly prone to data breaches, which makes security an essential consideration before even launching a product. So as a digital startup, you should have a solid data and infrastructure security in place as well as a contingency plan in case you suffer a data breach.
In addition, most modern CDN providers also double as delivery platforms for security solutions, which include web application firewalls (WAFs), DDoS protection and bot filtering. Thus, deploying a CDN will enable your business to address these two concerns at once: reliability and security.
Have a long-term plan. Do you aim to make your startup one of the leaders in its respective industry? Or are you seeking to grow it to a certain point and then be acquired by a bigger company? If the startup really takes off well, do you have plans of going public subsequently? These are questions which are not to be answered later but now. You should have a roadmap for your startup before you have even launched it. A roadmap means that you are certain of where you and your startup are going – and this certainty is of premium importance to angle investors as well as potential customers.
Launching a startup is one of the most exciting experiences for any entrepreneur. That is simply because startups are built on inspiration, hard work, diligence, hope, and teamwork. Building a startup involves thinking out of the box and offering the customers something unique, creative and curated diligently by the startup team and its founders. All this is interspersed with challenges, risks, and setbacks, which you must weather to make it to the top.
Building a startup does not mean you should not expect any hard times. Rather, it’s about being prepared to weather the storm. As a startup founder, the big question for you is: are you prepared well enough?