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21 Steps To Start-Up Success


Starting a business doesn’t have to take months or years. Follow these steps and ha

Published 11 months ago on May 1, 2018


By Tim Berry !

" Are you looking for the fast track to starting your business? You want to make
all the high points but don’t get bogged down in too many fine points that lea
! nowhere, right? Then read this guide, and get your business running in no tim

# The following topics are covered in this guide:

$ Start with a viable idea

Determine ownership
%
Get the agreement in writing

Name the business

Think about the initial sales forecast

Create an initial expense budget

Estimate starting costs

Plan your marketing strategy

Develop your look and feel


Start building your website

Think about how you’re going to get paid

Try making a sale

Get an insurance policy

Build your dream team

Think about your business’s location

Set up your accounts

Create the legal documents

Start hiring

Get funding

Think about opening day

Start your business

1. Start with a viable idea


Start thinking about whether your core idea makes a viable business. How do y
Well, honestly, you don’t always. It helps to take a step back, try to be honest a
with yourself, and ask these questions:

Does anybody need (or want) what we’re going to be selling? How bad is the need
do they want it? Think about it in common sense terms. Vigorous market researc

Will they pay for it? While they say people will beat a path to your door for a bette
that’s not always true. Think about it in your case.

Are they paying for something else, now, already? Can we go from that to honestl
they’ll pay for what you’re going to offer?

How will you focus? Do you have a strategy, or are you planning to do everything

The answers to these questions may seem obvious, but the point of this exerci
yourself a reality check. Essentially, you’re asking whether there’s a market for
or service. If you’re laying out a lot of money, and especially if that’s somebod
(like investors), it’s worth it to do the background research.

Start with some of these business ideas to help get you rolling.
2. Determine ownership
There are no formulas for ownership, and it may seem awkward at first, but if
partnering with someone, it’s a thousand times easier to do it now than to wai
the money starts flowing.

Determine the percentage of ownership, who do


what, whose idea it was and how much that
matters. There are no formulas for ownership. T
closest thing to it is money spent, especially if
add in time spent (so-called sweat equity) and
work that into a money value.
It’s extremely hard to value the original idea – I say the idea has very little rea
because it’s the work that matters. You have to talk through this. For now, talk
and leave it to settle for tomorrow. Now that you have mulled over the potent
surrounding ownership, it’s time to get concrete. Today, get a draft of the agre
writing.

3. Get the agreement in writing

We don’t mean go to the attorney, but we do me


write down the main points of your agreement
with the other people involved.
You don’t need formal legal language. That will come later (actually, Step 17).
want is a simple, plain agreement: Percentage of ownership, money invested,
and who owns what.

4. Name the business


That might be just using your own name, but usually it’s more than that, inclu
coming up with the ideas, but also checking them for availability, and register
to make it legally yours.

You don’t have to make it final, at least not yet


(you will later, Step 17 again). Start with the ide
though, and start thinking about it.
Many people misunderstand what you can and can’t do with names. You can w
time with those misunderstandings. Some people dread the forecasting, but yo
won’t succeed without it. How can you estimate expenses without knowing sa
you estimate your initial cash needs, as part of your starting costs, without kn
lot of people think sales forecasting is some highly sophisticated scientific thi
know how to do.

Related: Checking the Availability of a Company Name with CIPC

5. Think about the initial sales forecast

Don’t worry; back here in the real world, a sale


forecast is an educated guess. How can you
forecast something brand new? Break it down
pieces. Lay it out onto a spreadsheet over 12
months and make your estimates for each mon
Think about how many tables, how many stalls, how many hours? How much p
Multiply those units by the rands per unit, and you have a sales forecast. Like
forecast, lay out a spreadsheet with rows on the left, months along the column
the bottom to come up with an initial expense budget. Think about rent, utilit
costs and payroll.

6. Create an initial expense budget


Note: remember to include what you’re going to pay yourself.

7. Estimate starting costs


Start this with two simple lists: Expenses you’ll incur before you start, and t
(assets) you’ll need to have. Expenses are things like legal costs, fixing up the
setting up your website and so on. Assets are the things (inventory) you’re goi

The harder part is estimating how much money


you need to have in the bank, to support the
company through the normal drain period durin
the early cash-negative days.
You have to lay this out month by month, comparing your sales to your expen
the way the money goes in and out. Remember, in most business-to-business
have to wait to get paid.

Think about your target market. Imagine a hypothetical, ideal customer. Dete
her age, gender, job, favourite media and family situation. It’s important to kn
customer well.

8. Plan your marketing strategy


What’s your message? Can you say it in a single
sentence? What if you have just one sentence t
your customers will listen to? Where would you
send that message? How would you reach them
Think about your marketing strategy and implementation details. Take the tim
through a short but focused marketing plan to make sure you understand wha
market your business.

9. Develop your look and feel


Start developing a sense of the look and feel of your company as your buyers w
What will your logo look like? What sense will it have to convey? Old-fashione
Trustworthy? Leading edge? Everybody has a brand. What will yours be? How
that idea across to customers and potential customers? Develop your look and
logos, signs, letterhead and graphic standards. These are your branding essent
need to have them in place before you get much further.

10. Start building your website

Have you started your website already? Have you been thinking about it? Toda
get going with that. If you’re building a Web 2.0 application or any website tha
your business, then you might have to settle for simply having begun by the e
weeks.

For most businesses, you can have a website bu


very quickly. Think about the basic elements of
your website, and at least get a site up with bas
information about you, your business, your
products and your services.
These days there are some good shortcuts available: Take a look at TypePad,
and blogger platforms, for example. These were built for blogging but can app
small sites, with little to no formatting work. Think about how your customers
If you’re going to be selling to consumers, then you probably want to establish
account so you can accept credit cards.

Be warned – there are a few mistakes start-ups make when it comes to d


their websites. Find out more about them here.

11. Think about how you’re going to get paid

These days, because of the online suppliers, the


are a lot more options. In the old days you had
go straight to your favourite bank, which had a
detailed and time-consuming process.
These days, you have the option of setting yourself up with some web stores (l
Yahoo! and others) that can handle that part of it for you. If you’re selling to b
then think about invoices and credit policies for business customers. There’s n
underestimating how important getting paid is.

12. Try making a sale


This is where you get to make sure that people want to buy what you’re selling
can’t make a sale, because things aren’t ready, talk somebody through it.Have
to make a sale yet? Maybe you should take today to peddle your goods. Even t
not fully established yet, lots of businesses (maybe most of them) start selling
fully launched.

The selling will continue for as long as your business is open, but we wanted t
here as well because so many businesses are born at the moment the first cust
“yes”.

13. Get an insurance policy


Take time to talk to an insurance broker and get your business insurance start
days, you can do a lot of research or even do the whole thing online. And if no
the old-fashioned telephone style of finding the right people.

Talk to any insurance broker you can think of,


some questions, and if he or she isn’t the right
one, ask who else you should talk to. Find the
right person by asking the wrong person who e
you should talk to.
In the doing, you’ll find out what kinds of insurance are appropriate for the ty
you’re starting.

14. Build your dream team


Have you been thinking about how to build your team? Do you know the peop
bring on? It’s time to start ironing down the team and the employees, and star
recruiting process. Depending on your specifics, you’ll probably need job desc
you’ll need to place ads on the right websites.

Start thinking about your employee list. Who w


you need to help you out when you actually ope
for business? Will it be just you and your busine
partner? Do you need to hire service people?
Drivers? Designers?
To get started, take another look at the financial planning you did in steps 1-7
can afford to hire and start looking. Most people know they’re either going to
their home or they know where their office will be. They’re considering the rig
how it should look, where it should be, what else is nearby, and so on.

15. Think about your business’s location

Even if it’s a home office, you’ve probably been


thinking about it. Now’s the time to make sure
you’re set up. Desk, computer, telephone,
Internet, quiet if you need it, view or not, the
whole nine yards.
For a retail shop, workshop or office space, if you haven’t done so already, star
almost time to make a decision.

There are brokers to help, and they won’t charge you because they get their co
from the landlords (which you should keep in mind as you deal with them bec
always good to remember who’s paying). Find a broker who’ll work with you; o
to you about what you want and don’t want.

Today take steps to establish the location, whether it’s simply adding desks an
your home office or making calls to revamp a restaurant or manufacturing pla
people and businesses, this takes more than three weeks. Sometimes you can’
the location you want in that time. But start planning the office space in whic
work, as this can create the most lag time.

Related: How do I choose a location for my business?

16. Set up your accounts


With some good accounting software, you can keep track of every transaction
cheque, each invoice you receive and those you send out.

Keep careful track of spending and invoice


categories, and before you know it, you’re doin
the bookkeeping. The best way to choose your
accounting software is to check with your bank
your systems will be compatible.
That will save you endless frustration with inputting records.

17. Create the legal documents


Way back in Stage 1, you got together with the others involved and wrote dow
agreements on who is supposed to own how much of the business, who does w
is putting in how much money. And you started looking at possible names for
Today, get it locked in by creating the legal entity online talking to an attorne

Do yourself a favour, though, before you start the attorney’s meter running: M
understand the basic trade-offs, so you can spend the billable attorney time m
right choices, rather than just understanding the options. We don’t recommen
your business without an attorney (online or not), but if you get informed first
the expense.

Related: 3 Key Law Areas To Know When You Launch That Start-up

18. Start hiring


You’re nearing the end of your three-week start-up. Just three steps left, so if y
have employees, it’s time to hire them or at least begin hiring. You started the
process last week, so you should have some people in mind. Don’t do job inter
first going over a simple review of what you can and can’t say.

A lot of what would at first glance seem like common sense is technically illeg
example, you’re not supposed to ask someone his or her age or marital status
information can lead to the appearance or suspicion of discrimination.

19. Get funding


This is another one that depends on the details. It can be as easy as deciding t
thousand rands you already have or as hard as raising millions of rands from p
investors.

Your simple start-up, involving a home office an


a computer, might need nothing more than wha
you can get at a retailer like Dion or Makro in a
afternoon.
If you have to raise more money than you have, you need to write a detailed b
find potential investors and do a lot more work. If you’re looking for professio
investment, you almost certainly won’t get that in three weeks (although ther
rare exceptions). You can still get your business going with the money you can
that you look that much more attractive to investors.

20. Think about opening day


This should be fun: Imagine the big party, the searchlights beaming into the
band. Well maybe not all that, but opening day is a good event to start your bu
marketing right.

Plan your opening day and make sure everyone knows about it. Write a press r
local or trade reporters and generally let people know about your business. Yo
build buzz so that when you open, people are aware of you.

You’re up and running, and in 21 steps, just as we had hoped. That makes toda
of the rest of your business. Today you’ll want to take another day to make the

21. Start your business

Focus today and see how many customers you c


get in the door, figuratively or literally, depend
on your business. On your first day, remember
observe what’s going right, what’s going wrong
and to note what could be better.
Your business will quickly become different from what you expected, and that
is to record what’s different and why, and make course corrections. In the real
planning should become management. So review your plan vs. actual frequent
your business better.
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Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder of Palo Alto Software, a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognise
business planning. He makes several notable appearances in Fire in the Valley, Swaine and Freiberge
of the PC industry, and is the originator of plan-as-you-go business planning. He has an MBA from St
degrees with honours from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame.

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