As a start-up founder, your day does not start at nine am and finishes at five pm. Nor does the day consist of wearing only one hat. A piece of advice for all founders: the day never ends, and something always needs to be done. No matter what your start-up does or what sector the company is in, do not jump head-first into starting a business, only to be blindsided by actually running it. Having worked with countless founders, here are five factors that I believe make a great early-stage business:
1) Great founders
Founding members can make all the difference from what makes an average early-stage business compared to a great early-stage business. The founding members are the people who make the decisions and establish the vision that impacts it for years to come. Having a skilled and experienced leader provides effective decision-making and morale, turning even flawed ideas into successful ones.
2) Persistence and hard work
Start-ups and early-stage businesses are a lot of work, and if you’re not ready for this, you might as well quit before you start. As I stated earlier, your day never ends, there is always something that needs to be done, and there will be many things you are required to do that you’ve never done before. You need to be ready not to let any obstacles stop you, and there will be many obstacles. Be prepared to put in the work if you want your business to succeed, and be ready to fail and get back up again.
3) A good idea
Great marketing and a great management team will only get a business so far. You need to decide what makes your business and its product different from what’s available on the market. Your business should offer something unique and different; you need to not only reinvent the wheel but make it better.
4) A transparent business plan
As a founder, your business plan is your road map; it's where you lay out your business, from your mission and objectives to the actual product or service specifications. A business plan is one of the most critical tools a founder has to build a business. For an early-stage business, the business plan does not need to be professionally written. This document will evolve and change as the company grows and begins to establish itself. I recommend writing your business plan yourself as you know better than anyone what your company intends to do. Keep it simple, as you are communicating to many different readers.
5) Funding, funding, and more funding!
It is never too early for a founder to start thinking about funding, and it is a significant factor for all great early-stage businesses. Start building relationships with potential investors who demonstrate an interest in your business and know about potential funding schemes (public and private) to attract investors. You should avail of any governmental support that is out there, such as R&D Tax Credits or Regional Development Agency assistance. For UK incorporated companies or companies with a UK branch, you should consider SEIS and EIS as this can assist in helping you raise investment from UK investors.
Considering these five factors will help you build a great early-stage business.