First-Time Founders (Almost) Always Forget These 6 Things

You’re a well-organized founder with a killer solution, a comprehensive business plan, and a clear vision for the next 24 to 36 months of your life. What are you forgetting?

Only you can answer that question for sure, but chances are good you’re not devoting the requisite attention to at least one of these six things.

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1. Low-Strings Financing

Uh, how can you forget something that’s too good to be real? There must be some mistake here.

No mistake — just an often-overlooked source of precious startup capital.

Once you’ve tapped out your friends and family, it’s natural to look farther afield: to angel investors in your hometown, VCs in Boston or Silicon Valley, private equity firms in New York and Chicago.

Pump the brakes for a minute and look instead to a lower-key source of capital: startup accelerators, entrepreneurship contests, and public-private grants.

Enrolling in an accelerator program or contest can quite literally change your startup’s trajectory. In most cases, you’re guaranteed to come away with at least some low- or no-strings funding; even if not, you’ll work in close contact with experienced founders and industry wags, some of whom you’ll surely keep on speed dial long after the program ends.

2. Rapid Prototyping Support

If you don’t have a rapid prototyping framework, the greatest product design in the known universe might not be enough to save you.

Efficient additive manufacturing services can dramatically shorten the iterative cycle and condense the R&D timeline down to a competitive length. Your competitors are already 3D printing — don’t be the late adopter that wakes up one day to find the world passed by.

3. A Unique Logo

A killer logo is no afterthought — it’s your ticket to a great first impression.

Logo design is a competitive niche with no shortage of worthy operators. Look for a designer that offers the right mix of affordability, timeliness, and design sense. And don’t forget to include the finished product on every piece of digital and physical collateral you produce.

4. A Calling Card

Yeah, literally. Like pen and paper note-taking, business cards remain a thing. Double-dip with your logo designer, or use a turnkey business card design service that allows for full customization. If you plan to network your tail off, you’ll need a lot of these suckers.

5. Ambassadors

Even before it has a marketable product, your startup needs enthusiastic brand ambassadors willing to go the distance for your solution.

The nature of your product and your stage in the startup lifecycle will dictate your ideal ambassador acquisition strategy. You’ll likely find yours in some combination of real-world consumer communities, digital interest groups, and pools of social media followers and influencers.

6. An Exit Strategy

You don’t want to do this forever, do you? No matter where you are in life, you need to have a plan to head for the exits — whether that means a successful acquisition that seeds your next startup, or a “this time I’m really done” exit that takes you out to pasture.

What’s Your Startup Missing?

Now that you’ve got these six things in place, are all your t’s dotted and i’s crossed? Not by a long shot. The startup life is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s on you to conserve your strength for whatever hills may come. You’re surely missing something else — even if you’re not yet sure what it is.

FG Editorial Team
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