I can easily guess something about you. You have an innovative idea on mind and want to launch a startup in India but are not sure of the steps you need to take forward.
Let me tell you from the very start that launching a startup in India is easier than you think and the 2015 government scheme Startup India has only made it easier.
So that we are on the same page, I want to mention that there is a slight difference between a startup and a business. A startup means offering a product or service that has a unique angle and has never been offered before as such. Simply, startup is another name of innovation.
10 Steps to Launching Your Startup in India
1. It All Starts With an Idea but a Planned One
Grease your creative wheels and put your idea on paper. Just by writing down your idea on a paper, you will experience a better clarity and improved perspective towards your upcoming launch.
This step also includes a solid research. You must have an accurate picture of what you are to sell, who’s your ideal customer, how much fund will it take, how much time will it take to break even, and what would be the exit strategy.
Don’t skip this step and do your research really well. This research will come in handy when you would approach investors.
2. Find A Passionate Co-Founder
Although this step is completely optional but it’s always a good idea if you can get someone who is willing to put his skin into the game. Your workload, responsibilities, and most importantly stress get shared and the journey becomes a lot smoother.
I suggest to find a partner who can make up for your weaknesses. We all are good at some things and disaster at other things. So find your rough edges and look for a partner who’s naturally good at what you are not.
3. Incorporate A Legal Entity
I always suggest my readers to keep things straight from the get going. So, you must hire a Chartered Accountant and discuss with him what kind of business entity suits your startup idea.
Some of the common types of business entities in India are partnership firm, limited liability partnership, and private limited. Your hired Chartered Accountant will be able to guide you through all the types and the compliance requirements.
I would discourage you from doing the business incorporation yourself. It would add unnecessary delays, open the room for errors, and may make you go insane as well. Paying a CA is always well worth the money.
4. Raise Necessary Funding
You can’t rely on some future money or assumed business profit. You shall arrange all the necessary funds from the very start. Ideally, you must have enough funds to support your startup unless it reaches the break even point.
The first source of raising funds is always your savings. Next, you can approach your friends and family members. Crowdfunding is also an option but I haven’t heard many great success stories with it.
The next sources could be angel investors and venture capitalist. Usually, it is very hard to persuade them into investing into a new startup. The best idea is to launch it with your own savings and get some traction first. Once you have some numbers on your side, it’s a much easier road to get high-level funding.
5. Create An MVP Infrastructure
Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a known term in the world of startups. You rent only the minimum space that you need or start from home, you hire a new employee only when it reaches an absolute crisis point, and you yourself work in your organisation playing multiple roles etc. You got the idea, right?
Basically the idea is to cut down all the unnecessary expenses and running the business with bare minimum. During the start, it’s crucial that you keep your overheads low.
As you would be investing a lot of money into your startup your first goal should be reaching the break even point as soon as possible and one way is by keeping the cost low.
6. Hire a Star Team
You are only as good as people in your team. Around 75% of budget, especially in service based industry, is spent on employees salaries. You should also not be an exception and must not settle for low quality talents for the sake of saving some money on wages.
This is your team that can make the idea a giant success or a disaster. Your team must set you free so that you can do what you should be doing- taking the business to the next level. Always hire an employee with the right talent and right experience.
7. Market Your Startup Right
If your audience hangs online, I would say market your business digitally. Digital marketing is the best possible way to reach a very large audience with a fairly low budget. If you are into a consumer market, you can easily find digital platforms where your audience is present.
Moreover, you can always track the results of your digital campaigns and fine tune them. The same is not easy to do with offline promotions. You can hire the professionals or take an online marketing course. Even if you don’t do it yourself, learning it will still help you hire the right marketing team.
8. Improving Your Entrepreneurial Skills
There will always be a to do list with several items all screaming for your attention. You must learn to prioritize and keep yourself busy only with the things that matter the most.
Other than the to do list you will have to be on top of customer feedback, product improvement, pivoting your strategies, monitoring your feedback loop, keeping books etc.
That’s why my sincere advice to you is always keep improving your entrepreneurial skills such as productivity, sales & marketing, customer retention, hiring the right talent, making systems & processes etc.
9. Life is Not All About Business
If you don’t take care of your body where would you live then :).
The physical and mental stress that comes with any startup may take a toll on your health, social life, relationships etc. If you don’t have your people to share your success with or don’t have a healthy body to enjoy the fruits of your hard work, what success is all about. So prioritize your health, family, and friends as well.
Honestly, there are many tiny and giant challenges to overcome in order to launch a startup and make it successful. The steps laid out here is a good overview that is enough to get you started. To complete something you need to start it first.
As far as future challenges are concerned, you must never hesitate to ask for help or network with other entrepreneurs out there. As thy days, so shall thy strength be. Good Luck!