If you're starting up a business, it might not necessarily be classed as a "startup." We've heard this term many times before, but if you're setting up a coffee stand in your local mall, then you're technically just starting a business. A startup is a term that is loosely, but not entirely accurately, applied to Internet based operations and organizations that deal with technology. In its correct usage, the term startup applies to a business that creates an entirely new product or service, or takes an existing product or service and applies it in a new, often revolutionary way. Video conferencing software had existed for quite some time before a trio of Estonian software developers made it more accessible and user-friendly with Skype in 2003 (which was subsequently sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011). Google was originally a startup (amongst other search engine type startups), and grew to become the global juggernaut it is today. Social media was hardly a new thing, but a new way of interacting with friends and acquaintances was developed by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard cohorts and became Facebook (and the startup days of Facebook were interestingly documented in the excellent 2010 film, The Social Network). Here are some things to consider if you think you've identified a new and exciting way to deliver a service, and are considering a startupâ€¦
Great Idea For A Startup But Don't Know What To Do With It?
You might have an idea of a revolutionary new service, or a fantastic new way to deliver an existing service, but you might lack the technical prowess to know how to go about doing it. This is not necessarily a problem, as you can align yourself with someone who can assess the feasibility of your idea and can actually design the relevant program needed to make it a reality. This person's input would mean that they would probably be considered a co-founder of the startup (looking at the management structure of a startup, you'll see that there are often a number of these co-founders who have brought the idea from an initial concept to a working, marketable entity).
How Much Is This Going To Cost?
Fortunately, in the early stages, a startup won't cost much, as it can just be a couple of people working on computers in their bedrooms. Once the idea progresses, some funds are generally needed to bring it to the next level. At this point, you might need an investor. You might have enough available cash amongst yourself and your current co-founders, but to develop an idea to the point where you're ready to launch and make your product accessible to the public, you'll need an office and additional staff, and of course these things cost money.
Where To Find Money For The Marvellous Idea?
Even if you were able to start your operations and have the first one or two clients, you might experience some difficulties: it's not easy and certainly not cheap to find the perfect members of staff to help develop your business, and printing a couple of outdoor banners are not going to do it as marketing for your startup either. The question arises: in the unlikely event that the lottery doesn't work out, how does one get their hands on the necessary amount of money?
There are a number of investors who actively seek up and coming startups and invest (hopefully) large sums of money if they think the idea has merit. Actor Ashton Kutcher has invested in the popular Berlin based Soundcloud, an online cloud storage music website. Kutcher has also invested in the accommodation search database Airbnb. There are also websites such as Kickstarter (which is a startup itself), where you can list details of your project and ask for donations, usually in exchange for some kind of acknowledgement, such as a share of profits, a membership to the proposed web based project, or even a co-founder credit, depending on the amount given. Some government bodies also give loans specifically for startups, and Berlin has become known as the city of startups due to the generous loans the city authorities grant for new web based startups.
Important Things To Remember
An effective business plan is essential. Is there a market for your startup idea, and can the idea be easily marketed? A defining characteristic of the startup is fast growth, and the Internet certainly makes this possible. To grow the company quickly also greatly increases risk, and many small businesses and startups ultimately fail because their founders have attempted to grow too fast. A slow but steady growth is preferable, as it gives ample time to plan the next step of the business.
While your startup idea might not grow to being a global powerhouse that has entered actual language ("I don't know the answer, so I'll Google it"), a great idea can develop into a useful service that can turn a tidy profit for its founders, many of whom dream of one day selling to a multinational corporation and then retiring to a private islandâ€¦ until they get bored and start an entirely new startup.