How to Build a Startup from Scratch

How to build a startup from scratch
If you are here, you probably want to know how to build a startup from scratch. It means you are interested in constructing a startup or you want help to grow your existing business. Great, because this is what we’re going to see today.

At Growth Hackers, we are working with many startups from any sizes and stages. We feel that many founders don’t know where to start when building a startup. Even when we work with advanced startups, we still feel there is a lack of knowledge about the startup world.

Today, I want to give you the basics of what you need to know when you build a startup. If you know a lot about building startups, you probably won’t learn much here. This is a guide to help entrepreneurs know how to build a startup from scratch.

Detailed approach to creating a startup from nothing

Unlike regular businesses and ventures, startups have the uniqueness of growing at an exponential rate over a short period of time (If growth is not your goal, you’re probably not a startup then). This advantageous distinction is largely because startups have a heightened scale and exposure that cuts across a much larger market globally.

While startup companies offer an expedient road to business success, it must be equally reinforced that the likelihood of a startup company being successful is disappointingly low. It is convenient to look at successful companies like Facebook and leap into the conclusion that it is easy to create a successful startup. You must be aware that the number of failed startups overshadows the few celebrated startup successes. There are many warnings for first-time entrepreneurs and for startups to watch out for: entrepreneurship is not a flat ride to success.

Be passionate


If there is one rule to respect, this should be the only one. With passion, you will have necessary resilience to build your startup. Passion and determination are key elements to the anatomy of an entrepreneur. If you are not passionate by what you do, stop it because you will fail. Do something you are passionate about or work for someone else. It is important that you are enthusiastic about your startup initiative and not primarily motivated by profitability.

When monetary gains are the topmost consideration, the likelihood of the business succeeding becomes very low. Why? Because you won’t be able to address the fundamental need of the people. But other than passion, here are some important steps to creating a successful startup business.

Be passionate Follow your passion

Have a Business/Revenue ModeI


It is imperative that you create a returns model that aptly demonstrates the various ways through which profit would be generated by the startup to prospective investors.

When startups began, investors were not particular about where the income would come from. However, this trend has since changed. Having an astronomical number of users is not enough, it is equally important that your startup has clearly defined sources of earnings and monetary gains.

There are many considerations that are crucial to the success of a startup. Firstly, it’s advantageous to create a startup that appeals to a fair segment of the market. A fair segment would mean that you do not broaden your target market to include virtually everybody and you do not restrict you target market to a highly segmented market fraction as well.

Many startups make the mistake of having the goal to get millions of users with no profitability (Twitter). On the other hand, some startups are too targeted thus creating a very small target market with very limited revenue.
Even if before it wasn’t necessary, I now recommend to work on a business model when starting a startup from scratch.

Giving your startup business a brilliant name


The name of a business is an important consideration, is key for your startup branding and should be carefully executed. When it comes to most startup businesses, the challenge associated with naming the business is quite demanding, particularly with the shortage of domains.

Nonetheless, there are tips that can help you overcome the challenge while giving your startup an impressive name that buttresses your marketing objectives. When trying to name your startup you must first conceive a name that adequately communicates your startup initiative.
There are 2 ways really:
- Either you come up with an original name
- If you are not quite sure, use keywords

Next, you would have to look up if your name + .com is available. If you discover that the name has been used already, you would have to think up another name or you can buy another domain (.co, .net, .io, org…). Having the .com is not necessary if you a comprehensive SEO strategy to help direct customers to your platform.

Note: it is important that the name of your startup can easily be spelled and recognized by potential users.

Sharing initiatives with others


It is very common to find people being very reluctant to share the initiative of their startup business with others. Potential startup entrepreneurs are always terrified at the possibility that their idea would be hijacked and implemented by others. This fear is counterproductive and can prevent a business from kicking off.

Expressing this kind of fear shows that are you are not assured of the uniqueness and superiority of your vision. Business initiatives can always be hijacked by others even if it gets past the ideation stage. When you eventually launch your startup, it can always be copied and implemented by other persons hence there is no need to be overprotective.

You must realize that YOU are the business. What this means is that you are the essential ingredient for the startup initiative to thrive. With this at the back of your mind you should not be overly concerned with being the first to introduce a startup idea. being the pioneer will not make your startup a success. If you believe this, you will most likely fail.

Your focus should be on creating a startup business with the view of introducing approaches, techniques and features that would not only ensure sustainability, but would give the business an unprecedented advantage over competition when they eventually emerge.

Also you should realize that your startup can evolve and diversify into other related aspects. This is an important consideration for any startup to remain relevant and profitable. Facebook is one of the biggest social networks successes but it certainly wasn’t a pioneer. Google is the most successful search engine but wasn’t the first. These companies stayed at the top by continuously improving and evolving, not by hiding.

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Have a rough draft


How to build a startup from scratch without a draft? This could seem like a stupid question but I see founders that start building a startup without even having some bullet points on what they want to achieve.

While this may seem like an obsolete practice, it is still very relevant and applicable particularly when creating a startup. You must be able to draw a considerable number of the web pages and features that site would have. This technique helps you create some important features that would create a distinction for the business while illustrating how the site would function.

Think of it as a hazy algorithm, this process helps expedite the creation of the site as well as helps tailor the site to align with your initiative. On this draft, I recommend you to write the problem(s) you want to solve, your solution(s), who will be interested by purchasing your solution, who are your competitors, how much would it cost, what/who do you need to build it…

Getting approval for your initiative


It is important that your startup initiative gets the approval and contributions of potential customers. Customer development is an important factor when creating a startup as it helps you tailor the business to meet customers’ needs while eliminating various features that make the business too complicated for customers to use.

Essentially, getting approval for your initiative would require that you carry out a survey based on you target market to identify various areas in which the product can be modified to increase acceptability and usability. While it is very easy to assume that your business has all of the solutions and features fitting customer needs, it may surprise you to find what customer preference and requirements would be. Always make sure that you test to find out customers’ opinion on the startup before you launch full scale.

Of course, the other way is to apply the lean startup principles by launching a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) as fast as possible. However, I think you should validate your idea even before working on your MVP.

Getting partners and collaborators


The importance of collaborators, associates, team members, partners’ co-founders, remote freelancers and the likes to a startup business cannot be overstated. For staggering success of a startup business you would need the help of others.
You may require help in the form of technical capabilities, a friend for motivation, a digital marketer with insight, a growth hacker or someone with a lot of financial resources to help fund various business operation and support specialized activities.

Bottom line remains that it is important to forge relationships and partnerships that would help you make the most of your startup initiative. It is nearly impossible to undertake every aspect of the startup business and if you are capable of doing so you would never be able to achieve desirable results.
While this may seem like a dangerous idea, identifying collaborators, technicians, marketers and so on is very important to helping your startup grow. Essentially, the person or persons that you would bring into your startup should be experienced, driven and also passionate.

Building business partnerhips partnering puzzle hands strategic alliances

Getting a (technical) co-founder


Getting a technical co-founder is an important consideration for your startup business to become successful (Especially if you are not a ‘techie’). You must search for areas in which you are deficient and compensate for it with a technical co-founder that is apt in those areas.

You need to understand that there are a lot of processes involved in creating a startup. I say to have technical co-founder but it is not entirely true. If you are a tech guy, you might want to find a designer, a marketer or a recruiter as a co-founder. The most important factor is that your co-founder complements you. If you are an Android app developer, you might not want to have your co-founder being an Android app developer. If you are a web back-end engineer, you probably don’t want your co-founder to be one as well.

While it is important to get a cofounder who is driven, motivated and skilled to strengthen your weakness and help propel the startup business, it is equally imperative that you demonstrate your uniqueness, enthusiasm and contributions to the business and not be entirely reliant on the co-founder.

Even if stats have shown that startup with more than 1 founder have a higher chance of success, don’t only focus on this. Focus on your product, network and you will find the right fit.

Getting investors for your business


Although getting an investor is not compulsory, it is often crucial for startups. Money and resources are fundamental requirements for the proper introduction of any business. There are two broad categories of investors that can invest in a startup business:
- An active investor knows about the business and may be actively involved in most of the processes, particularly areas of the business that would involve revenue and profitability.
- On the other hand, an inactive investor knows nothing about the business. The downside to this kind of investors is that they may not be able to help facilitate the implementation of logistics or other forms of resources that can expedite the success of the startup initiative. They would be less likely to help out in other necessary areas because they do not have the expertise or knowledge about the business.

When it comes to getting investors, you must be able to impressively pitch the idea in order to gain their interest and investment. More importantly, interacting with entrepreneurs that have gotten investors is also a good way to getting investors.

Selecting a great team


Selecting a great team is very important to a startup company – no matter if you are building your startup from scratch or not. First, you can use your network, go to incubators to meet fellow entrepreneur or to startup events. getting permanent staff can be challenging but it is undoubtedly an inexpensive option.

One of the difficulties that you may likely encounter with getting a permanent staff being able to assemble a complete team to cater to all of the startup business’s technical needs for an extended period of time. Additionally, getting permanent staff of designers, digital marketer and all other technical expertise could be very expensive, which means that you would have to generate a lot of investment funds to sustain a permanent staff. While paying with funds could be stressful, you can also explore the equity option.

Paying employees with equity vesting can be a brilliant way to remedy money shortage. Payment with equity vesting is usually based on the period of time the employees spend working for you. Other factors that could influence how much employees get from equity vest are the level of expertise, how far the startup business has come and how much the startup has generated.

You could also give your job to an agency to help you out with various processes such as outsourcing digital marketing, web design, product development, etc... Using an agency is not always advisable if they are not holistically committed to helping you grow. More so, they can be expensive and usually occupied with many other jobs which could starve your job of attention. Finding the right agency is not easy but when you do, it has many benefits such as quality, risk-free, etc...

A freelancer offers a very unique opportunity for you to get technical touch on your job and they can incentivize with little for plenty effort. However, they often lack the tools for sustainable operations. You can also get technical individuals on freelance professional sites like fiver, freelancer and so on. There are many respectable technicians on these platforms with a dedication to offering topnotch services.

Having / Recruiting mentors


To succeed at startups and innovation, you need great mentors. This is a fundamental requirement when trying to build a team for your startup. Having mentors is often overlooked by startup founders but I can ensure you this is your key to success. Identifying mentors would certainly help expedite the implementation of your startup goals. More so, having mentors would assure you of active participation and involvement even when remuneration is not up to requirement.

Mentors are not obviously focused on money, they are inspired by the initiative and the idea that their contributions and expertise would help in the realization of the goal while creating a positive impact in the lives of many. The key to recruiting mentors would be to leverage the altruistic benefits of your startup. Also it would help to take advantage of social networking.

Staggering benefits of design


Design is an intricate aspect of the startup plan that must not be trivialized for any reason. Design is the bedrock of the branding process and one of the major determinants of success. Taking a cue from many celebrated sites, you would find that design plays a crucial role and should be given top priority.

Design helps you increase brand awareness and retention which is a precondition for a successful startup. Having a brilliant design helps you stand out from the clutter and registers firmly in the minds of customers and users. When a brand is instantly recognizable then you would have created a powerful brand.

Simplicity


Simplicity is key to success. You do not want to create a platform that is difficult to use. Once you are able to do this, then you would have created a startup that can catch on very easily. It is important that you avoid the inclination to include too many features and applications at the same time as this could make it difficult for users to utilize the platform.

Also when you are trying to upgrade the feature of the site, make sure to introduce features gradually in order not to confuse users. This will also allow you to get customers opinion on various areas in which you make modifications. This will help you improve or remove unnecessary features.

Simplicity is key Simple Line maze Design

Focus on sales and marketing


Sales and marketing are important aspects of your startup, particularly if you want to be profitable. While this is the case, you must take cognizance of the fact that there are many intricacies involved in promoting sales and marketing of a startup.

The marketing and sales stimulation approach you would adopt is largely determined by the nature of the industry your startup falls into. You cannot apply the same approach in all cases as the marketing approach has to be tailored to meet the requirements of the industry.

The first step to define a marketing strategy for your startup is to obviously study your target audience and then you have many options at your disposition like starting with an easy social media strategy for your startup. You can collaborate with companies and businesses in order to introduce your service to their already existing customers. Implementing an inbound marketing strategy, applying content marketing tactics or even adopting a growth hacking approach could be great ideas. Inbound content marketing is an effective way to reach out to your target market. Similarly, social media offers an incredible opportunity to broaden your reach.
You can also explore other forms of marketing like advertising on major social platforms and sites with very big customer base for maximum exposure. The power of email marketing can also be exploited to reach a considerable number of target customers. Creating great email marketing campaigns by using the right marketing and growth hackings tools can help increase conversion rates dramatically.

Utilizing traditional media advertising is very effective when trying to create publicity for your startup. You can also utilize mediums like newspapers to reach audiences and create a lot of buzz that is required for your startup to be registered in people's mind and to engender brand familiarity. Comparatively speaking, this may be quite expensive nonetheless traditional media still has its effects and it can be leveraged to get across to a large target audience.

Public relations campaign is also a good way to increase brand awareness and engender public good will. Public relations have the distinctive advantage of not being perceived as a marketing strategy. People are more likely to be unsuspecting of public relation activities and this can be leveraged to gain public trust and brand loyalty.
Also, public relations are an effective tool when trying to create an image for your startup business. When utilized effectively, you can create an unassailable reputation with PR. It is important that you do not get carried away by using PR for self-aggrandizement as this can be counterproductive and harmful to the business.

Word of mouth advertising is always the best from of advertising because it has an unrivalled level of credibility when compared with other forms of advertising. Once people begin to spread the word about you’re the features and functionalities of your startup business, you can expect to notice a tremendous increment in the number of customers and sales.

Challenges are inevitable


The startup business will always have its challenges and you must learn to manage and solve these challenges without breaking down or making it obvious to the public. Challenges are an inevitable aspect of startups and all that is required of you is to identify the various challenges and tackle them head on. Keep up the façade and be composed while you address these issues and improve your startup outlook.

Manage down times


Just as challenges are inevitable, downtimes also are totally unavoidable and as such you must learn to cope with down times. When implementing a startup, it is important that you do not focus your entire life around your startup. You must learn to engage in other diversions and not be totally consumed with the success (Or failure) of your startup.

Engaging in sport activities, music, hobbies, hanging out with friends (Not fellow entrepreneurs or you’ll just talk business), creating time to mingle and interact is very important for overall wellbeing and health. Do not engage yourself in your startup from dawn to dusk everyday as this could be bad for you.

When things are not going as planned (And it will), it would help to talk to people about how you feel and get their opinions and support. You must learn to manage your health properly with regular exercise and rest.
Even when you have implemented all of the steps required for success, it is important that you acknowledge that anything can happen. Startup business is particularly unpredictable so you must learn to be stable and firm. When there are downtimes do not feel stressed, learn from the situation and implement corrective and remedial measures. Always remember, that implementing a successful startup is not a ‘do or die affair’.

Perseverance to achieve success


You must understand that not every startup business succeeds in the first try hence the need for perseverance as it is a precondition for success in this line of business. Indeed, resilience is the main factor to startup success.

Do not be overly concerned with the success of your startup. If this is your foremost consideration, then you would most likely be frustrated at the smallest inconvenience. Think of your startup as a lifelong process and learn to deal with downtimes without losing your head. Enjoy the good times and try as much as possible to constantly upgrade the startup business. Failure to update your startup and incorporate relevant modifications would make the startup business to lose its competitive edge and appeal.

You must persevere and continue to look for innovative ways to achieve success. Most people fail at startups because they are too concerned with monetary gains and profitability. Once your goal is focused on creating a better world, you would not be discouraged and you would have the required tenacity to keep pushing for success.

To sum-up: how to build a startup from scratch

Let’s be honest, there is no right path to startup success. All I can do is give you guidelines of what you need. I want to guide you how to build a startup from scratch but the post is not entitled ‘The secret recipe to build a startup success’.

What I can tell you is that you need to be prepared. Building a startup will not be a flat ride. The most important thing is to be passionate. Passionate about what you do, what you want to achieve. If you have this; then, you should start to build your product/service and get to know people. People is the most important factor after passion.
You will need people to help you build your product, finance it, market it. guide you and more. You will also need people to help you when things go bad (Because, at some point It probably will).

So, if I have to resume very simply how to build a startup from scratch: you need passion and people.

At Growth Hackers, we help startups, SMBs and entrepreneurs grow, no matter how early or advanced they are in their journey. If you believe we can help you with growth through growth hacking, inbound marketing, fundraising or product development, contact Growth Hackers now.

Jonathan
Jonathan
I am the co-founder and CEO at Growth Hackers. We help startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs with growth methods. I am passionate about startups, growth hacking, inbound marketing and entrepreneurship. You can follow me on Twitter: @GrowUrStartup

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