The Art of Starting a New Company
How does a company begin? Where does the spark of inspiration originate? For many, the idea is sparked when a need is recognized. But a successful company needs more than just an idea. A company is made from an idea, a researched and proven gap in the market, and a team of people who are passionate and qualified to bring the idea to life and profitably fill that gap.
At times, the spark of a new company comes from a constant analysis of current market conditions and comparing which trends are converging, or are likely to converge in the near future. In the past, I saw the prevalence of social media and mobile service and created Solavei, which drove over 400,000 mobile service enrollments exclusively through social marketing in its first three years. In 2012, I saw a new gap in the market: a need for a discount consolidation program that gets users cash back without them spending hours digging through online coupon sites for discounts or scanning receipts by hand into their phones. Combine this with the fact that 68% of adults in the United States have a smartphone, up from 35% just 4 years ago, and it was obvious the ideal platform for a service like this would be an app. This spark turned into my current project, Dosh, an app that automatically finds cash back for consumers without the hassle of scanning receipts or searching for offers online. This process transfers the money spent on advertising back into the hands of the consumers and allows companies to more effectively reach their target market.
The basic steps I use at the start of a new company are:
- Determine the details of your idea:
- Analyze the current market condition, the convergence of trends, and determine where the gap is.
- If filled, would this gap lead to demand, to profit?
- Build out the company business plan:
- Determine exactly what the company will do.
- What resources will the company need? Financially? Technology? Expertise?
- Determine who you need on your team:
- What expertise do you need to hire?
- How many people will you need to bring your company to life?
- What company culture do you want to create?
Once you have these questions outlined, the start of your company is getting close. Still, it is imperative to remember that a company is dependent on the quality of the parts. This means, you need to find not only the right expertise, but the right people with that expertise. I always recommend finding people who are far better than the company founder in each of his/her individual areas of expertise, whether it be finance, marketing, operations, or technology. Then, ensure these people are passionate about the project and are ready to take ownership of their department. I have always found that giving people ownership of their area of expertise results in the best outcome for a company.
One of the most important components of a starting successful business is the necessary capital and the right investors who believe in your vision. Once you have the capital to launch your company and begin identifying your team, empower them to be the “CEO” of their own area. I have spoken in past blogs about the CEO Mentality and I consistently find that this creates better results, morale, and passion for the company. Another important piece is educating each of your team members so they clearly understand what the vision of the company is and know what is necessary to achieve that vision. It is deeply important to ensure that each person has the same understanding of the vision and priorities of the company. Without this clarity, individuals will have a difficult time reaching their objectives.
What other steps do you use when starting a new company? What components would you add?