First you had an idea — now you have a business. You’ve put together a great team and begun to test your product for validity in the market (if you haven't yet, read our two previous blogs on team building and product testing). So what’s your next move? There are many different aspects of the business you still need to acknowledge and deal with: legal, accounting, HR, etc. These seemingly menial, less-than-glamorous aspects of the business world can make or break your business just as easily as your product design or sales team if they are neglected.
Once you know you've got a product with sticking power and a team committed to building your company, it's time to locate and lock down the resources you'll need to take your business to the next level.
Cultivate Your Resources
Luckily, there are many resources available to growing businesses, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is specifically designed to help small businesses take these crucial first steps. In addition to the USSBA, startup writer Nick Taranto highlights several other platforms tailored to small businesses in Forbes:
- Build A Web Presence — Buy a domain name and get a website up and running ASAP! Web design is no longer a dark art understood only by computer programmers: If you have a bit of web literacy and an eye for good design, you can build yourself a fully-functioning website for less than $50 using CMS platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace.
- Figure Our Your Finances — While it might not seem necessary to hire a full-service accountant at first, it’s paramount that you use some sort of software to make sure you are keeping track of your financial data and performance. QuickBooks and Xero are two of the most popular accounting platforms for startups, as both have built-in features that track key business metrics such as sales performance.
- Line Up Legal Help — LegalZoom is an “online legal solutions” site that can help you become incorporated, file a patent, or create a trademark, all at very competitive rates. Legal matters are a grey area for many entrepreneurs, which is why LegalZoom goes to such great lengths to break things down into a more digestible vocabulary. Remember: it won’t matter how great your product or business model is if anybody can copy it and claim it as their own.
- Read Up — There are tons of books by major entrepreneurs out there that can help you determine the right steps towards success, ranging from inspirational success stories to more informative and academic startup guides. If you're wondering where to start, check out our list of recommendations.
Accelerate Your Growth
If you're looking for a one-stop shop for gathering the resources you need, building relationships with mentors and investors, or preparing your great idea to scale, consider applying to an accelerator program. Startup accelerators and incubators have become an increasingly popular option for entrepreneurs, as they generally provide a full suite of resources that startups need to build a solid foundation. At SparkLabKC, we provide seed capital, office space, business advisory services, and access to the region's best mentors and investors, among other important resources.
In addition to those resources, accelerator programs offer another invaluable benefit to companies: membership in a group of fellow entrepreneurs who are facing the same struggles as you are. The community that forms between the participants in the SparkLabKC accelerator program continues to be one of the most important resources of all. A cohort of entrepreneurs with unique strengths and weaknesses can advise each other, provide fresh perspectives, and blow off that startup steam with a game of ping-pong or an after-hours drink.
Chase Your Dream
While many entrepreneurs fetishize the "big idea" that will catapult them to the top, the reality is this: your brilliant idea is just the beginning of the long road to success. Along the way, you'll need a dedicated and talented team supporting that idea, a product that truly solves a problem in the market (that consumers are willing to pay to have solved), and access to all the varied resources that give your business a solid foundation for growth. While your idea provides the excitement and the opportunity, it's your hard work and the support of your community that actually gets the job done. Don't take those resources for granted as you chase your dream, and don't forget to share the credit when you make it big!
What has been the most valuable resource to your startup company? Share with us by tweeting @SparkLabKC!