An Essential Guide to Startup Success

Enterprising universities like Aston are renowned for being a breeding ground of business ideas. Countless success stories started with students. The problem is, you need more than just an idea for your startup to be successful. If you’ve got a great concept but unsure how to bring it to market, take heed of this essential guide from Innovate UK. Whether you’re bringing your business to life now or waiting till after graduation, these tips will put you on the right track. 

Evaluate Your Idea Objectively
You need a strong USP. This is something you can use against your competition. If you’re stuck for a USP, you need to rethink your concept. When looking at this, don’t just ask your friends and family. You need to be unbiased in your approach to evaluating your idea. Find some target customers, give them a trial and listen to their feedback.

We’ve outlined some tricky questions to ask yourself. Be honest with your answers:

•Is your product/service useful?
•Does it satisfy a need?
•Does the problem you’re solving actually exist?
•What’s in it for the customer?
•Will they pay for it?
•Why are you passionate about it?
•Why would anyone else care?

Research
Do your research. If you don’t you’re doomed to fail. You need a genuine understanding of your market size, audience, competitors, costs and price points. 

Here are a few questions to guide you in the right direction:

•What’s your demographic/niche?
•How big is your niche market?
•Will you see a return?
•Is the sector in growth or decline?
•What are your competitors doing?
•Is there any potential for indirect competition entering the market?
•How much will it cost? Consider development, operation and go-to-market costs here
•What’s a realistic price point?
•How does your price point compare to your costs?

Build Your Team
The success of your business largely depends upon your team. You need to recruit people who you trust will implement your plan effectively. Think about the employment structure you want to create. Don’t just go straight for employees, consider a co-founder, agency staff or freelancers too.

At this stage, the passion and drive of the people you work with will be superior to their qualifications. Remember, investors buy into the team behind an idea more than the idea itself.

Plan Your Finances
Most startup failures can be attributed to a lack of money. If you create a long-term financial plan you can avoid nasty surprises and anticipate the tougher times. 

When mapping your finances, consider these questions:

•How long will your money last?
•When will you need investment?
•When do you plan to start making revenue?
•Are these predictions realistic?
•What are your competitor’s finances like? 
•What production and staffing costs do you have?
•How much do you need to charge for your product/service?
•Is this price competitive?
•What do your margins look like?
•Can you earn repeat business?

Be realistic about early demand and remember that revenue is different to profit. Don’t try to force a business to work if the finances don’t add up – it will be a painfully tough lesson to learn.

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