How often did you hear about a startup that started and failed after two or three years? Do these failures have something in common, and can we avoid them from the very beginning of the startup journey? Many entrepreneurs are lost and overwhelmed these days by having way too much access to content. Educational resources can sometimes confuse the entrepreneur by having too many opinions to choose from and different strategies to plan and tackle. To ease the entrepreneur's mission at the beginning of their business journey, David S. Rose has identified the 25 most essential steps to a scalable high-growth business in his book The Startup Checklist.
Phase 1: Prepare to Launch
Translate Your Idea into a Compelling Business Model
Ideas are easy, and everyone can think of your idea, but how you translate your idea, draw up its business plan, and knowing the "how-to" for generating revenue for your startups is what counts.
Craft a Lean Business Plan to Serve as Your Venture's Road Map
Building a business plan is not as complicated as expected by new founders. It merely is the sentence of how you think you will run your business, so you can then turn it into a continuously updated plan to create responsibility for team members. The business plan includes target customers, the added value, costs, channels...etc.
Translate Your Idea into a Compelling Business Model
Despite the lack of accurate and reliable data in our Arab world to study the market, there are many ways to research competitors. For example, reading online reviews, talking to existing or former employees, meeting competitors' clients, paying attention to advertising campaigns and competitors' marketing plans...etc.
Build Your Dream Team
The first ten employees have the ability to drive your business to the top or kill it. Choosing competent people is not enough. Be sure to have the right person in the right position at the right time. The startup goes through several stages, and with these different stages in mind, the vehicle (startup) leaders must change. Also, be sure to diversify the team members' capabilities and competencies; the startup can not bear the cost of human resources. Maximizing resources is a must for every startup.
Allocate the Equity in Your Startup
The founders need to divide the shares according to the value that everyone brings to the table. You can measure the amount of value-added for the founder by the time spent on the startup or the cost that the startup will incur if the person is replaced.
Build a Minimum Viable Product and Validate Your Plan With Customers
Building a simple prototype to quickly assess the customer experience and improve customer interaction with the product is critical to future project success, and it saves many costs.
Establish Your Brand with Online Public Profiles
Being active on social media even before the official lunch will make the clients more curious about your brand.
Network effectively within the entrepreneurial ecosystem
Attending seminars, exhibitions, and conferences specialized in the field of your business will help you in the process of forming relationships with clients, investors, and strategic partners.
Phase 2: Launch & Build Your Company
Incorporate Your Company for Protection and Investment
Incorporating your company protects you and your personal property when the company goes bankrupt.
"Lawyer Up" the Right Way
Integrity, competence, and closing deals are what distinguishes a great attorney from a good enough attorney.
Recruit Your Boards of Directors and Advisors
Board members must be able to provide one or more of the following values: wealth, work, or wisdom.
Select an Accountant and an Accounting System
In your startup's early days, you cannot bear the costs of mistakes in financial inputs. Choosing a good accountant and an easy-to-use accounting system will help you in making decisions more quickly.
Establish and Manage Your Credit Profile
You must manage and schedule your debt in order not to have any trouble paying future debts.
Open bank, Credit Card, and Merchant Accounts.
Choose your bank, selling points, special account services, electronic payments activation...etc.
Choosing Your Key Technologies, Platforms, and Vendors.
Choosing a set of technologies, systems, suppliers, and building relationships with vendors will help you delegate tasks to your team in the future.
Measure Your Business with Data Analytics.
"You can't manage what you can't measure" Peter F. Drucker
Round out Your Team with Employees and Freelancers
When hiring, consider the soccer team. The soccer team players are hired based not only on talent but also on how the player's talent will enhance the team's performance.
Establish a Stock Option Plan to Incentivize Your Team
Consider issuing stock options for key employees to keep them motivated and engaged.
Phase 3: Raise Funds, Collaborate with Investors, Plan for Your Exit
Understand the Funding Process and What Investors Want to See.
It is crucial to understand your startup phase requirements and how much is needed to scale and move to the next stage.
Nurture Your Investor Pipeline.
Make sure to network with local angel investors and VCs in your hometown because investors rarely invest if they don't know you personally, or if another investor hasn't referred your company.
Crowdfunding and online platforms.
If you're going with crowdfunding, make sure to have a very well-designed marketing campaign. Include a video to engage your audience and get the help of a copywriter to assist you in storytelling.
Survive the Term Sheet Negotiation and Investor Due Diligence
If you find problems that cannot be solved immediately in the due diligence phase, make sure to communicate them proactively to investors with a plan, rather than hoping that the investor will not find them.
Get the Most from Your Investors, Now and in the future.
Investors can facilitate upcoming investment rounds. Building relationships early on can help you to scale your startup.
Understand Your Company's Valuation
The investor wants to evaluate the company according to the current valuation. Still, the entrepreneur wants to assess the company based on what it can be after the investment and the growth potential.
Keep Your Eye on the Exit and Reap the Benefits of Success
An exit strategy is a strategic plan for entrepreneurs to sell their shares to investors, get acquired, or in extremely rare cases, launch the company into the open market through an initial public offering (IPO). Planning an exit strategy from the beginning and reverse-engineering the process is very important to guide and direct your company on the right track.
These steps act as a compass to lead you in your entrepreneurial journey.