Now might seem like a crazy time to launch a business, but in fact, there’s never been a better time. With the ongoing pandemic introducing no shortage of problems, new problems demand new solutions. Therefore, many new businesses have been launched this year than ever before in the United States. Data from the US Census Bureau shows about 1.4 million new startup applications filed with the government through September 30, 2021, compared with 1.14 million during the same period in 2020. The following is a step-by-step guide to launching your startup this year.
1. Start With a Problem
When it comes to launching your business, forget everything you ever heard about “chasing” your passion and instead, chase a problem. Venture capitalist Paul Graham (and early investor in Dropbox, Stripe, Reddit, and more) put it best when he said that the best startups have three common features: they’re something the founders themselves want; that they, themselves, can build; and that few others realize are worth doing. Solve an actual problem that you’re facing in the world.
2. Research the Market
Before you begin fine-tuning your concept, you’ll need to research the landscape and understand the current marketplace. Every minute you invest in researching online saves you 10 minutes of building your startup blindly, only to find out that customers are flocking to a different solution to the problem you’re solving. Know what’s out there and how your business will propose to offer a different and much-needed solution.
3. Consider Starting as a Side Hustle
Starting small and growing organically can also ensure that your product is addressing the problem you set out to solve—before you infuse the company with your and your investor’s money. The quieter route of bootstrapping may be a better option for prospective founders. And as long as your idea is solid, your business can grow just as big.
4. Don’t Play the Waiting Game
Entrepreneurs tend to be perfectionists. With so much on the line, you want your product to be perfect before releasing it to the world. But the truth is, the only way to know if people will like and use your product is to get it out in the world. It is always better to start your journey with a largely unfinished or unpolished product or service and allow its early adopters to help you make improvements. Don’t play the waiting game. If you do, a competitor might swoop in and offer the same (or better) solution to your problem.
5. Focus on the Customer—Not the Competition
One of the biggest mistakes I see in new business owners is focusing so much on the competition that they short shrift to the most important stakeholder: the customer. Criticism helps us to locate our pain points and figure out how to innovate and improve. This first customer experience is invaluable to the direction, focus, and success of your newly formed business. Ask early customers what they like, what they would change, and any other insight about their experience.
6. Share, Share, and Share
If a tree falls and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? If you’re working on an awesome new product and no one learns about it, does your product even exist? Answer: it does exist (and it does make a sound), but it may as well not if no one knows about it. There are so many easy ways to share what you’re working on. Tweet about it, blog about it, create a YouTube video about it, or write about it in a Substack newsletter.
7. Get Ready to Delegate
One final tip for launching your business: learn to delegate, and fast. The most successful entrepreneurs know that hiring talented people to whom you can delegate decision-making will free you up to focus on bigger picture items like growing your business. Growth requires learning to stop micromanaging and trusting your leadership team to implement your vision.
Launching a new business may be nerve-wracking, but it’s also profoundly exciting. The seven tips on how to start your own business have helped many people to run and expand their businesses over the years, and hopefully, you’ll find them helpful, too. Remember to start with a problem, research the market, consider starting as a side hustle, don’t play the waiting game, focus on the customer, share what you’re working on, and get ready to delegate.