The Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg was 20 years old when he launched the social networking site ‘Facebook’ in 2004. Now with 840 million registered users, Facebook is the biggest social networking site on the planet, making Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in the United States.
If you are planning on a start-up and dream of coming out with the next Facebook, then prepare yourself for the greatest adventure of your life. Your decision might make you successful, or it might lead you nowhere. However, the strength to walk along a path less walked makes you different.
When you plan to start a new startup, there can be five phases through which you must proceed. Anyone eager to make it a big need to know these five phases.
The Idea Phase
To come up on top, first of all you need to have an excellent idea. Without an idea there is nothing. This idea is the soul of the business that you want to build. What is a body without a soul? Such is the case of a business without an idea.
Unique Idea: However, the idea must be unique, practical and can be sold. The uniqueness of your idea must be in any perspective of your product or service. It doesn’t matter if the core idea is already used. If you can come up with a modified version that is more marketable, then you can hit the jackpot.
The idea of social networking was already there and many provided this service to users before Zuckerberg came with Facebook. However, Mark Zuckerberg found a way to be unique by making it a site where you could share your pictures. He developed the basic idea of social networking, and the rest is history.
Different Aspects of an Idea: The idea could be a new way of selling a product or service. The product might be as simple as a pen, bag, or service like paying utility bills for those in your neighborhood. If you have a new way of selling these products to attract new consumers, you cash on it.
Sometimes your idea might not pertain to how you sell it but rather to how you make it. If you can come up with a new way to manufacture the product at lower costs, you can make money.
This is how you need to come up with ideas. If you can come up with a whole new market. Most of us are not as genius as Einstein, so try to build upon what already exists and build it up using all your creativity.
The Planning Phase
Yes you have a great idea that is waiting to take on the world. After the initial euphoria and jumping around, shouting, “Eureka,” you settle down and reach the Planning Phase. Without a plan nothing ever succeeds in this world. The same is true for your business idea as well.
Blueprint: The planning phase consists of how exactly you go about starting your business. It is a blueprint of what you are about to do in business. It involves a lot of research, meeting with people, learning, discussing and some hard thinking.
Now you have no office, no name, no secretary, no business, nothing. All you got is an idea. You got to start from scratch. Only detailed planning will show you the route through which you need to go in order to build upon that idea and do a full-fledged business out of it.
Your plan must consist of obtaining the licenses, registering your company, setting up an office if needed, etc.
Finance: The major obstacle on the way for any start-ups is finance. Without adequate funds to finance your business, all your dreams will remain just that dreams if you do not have an investment. You must plan well where to arrange finance for your business.
The various options for funding are your savings, money collected from friends, relatives etc., and now there are Venture Capitalists who are willing to invest in promising start-ups.
On the other hand, try not to depend too much on Venture Capitalists and make adequate arrangements so that you do not drain all your savings. Remember, if you fail in this endeavor, you got to survive to fight another day.
Work as a Team: As they say, ‘two is a company’. Tag along with someone who can assist you in your business. It can be your best friend, relative or even your spouse. Great things come out when thinking as a team. Besides, you cannot do everything all by yourself. Assign your work so that it becomes easy for you to concentrate on other more pressing things.
The Achievement Phase
It is the most important phase. This phase decides if your idea sells or not. This is the period when the idea in your head gets transferred into the business empire that you want to build up.
Work on Your Blueprint: Now you are working on the blueprint you made in the last phase. You need patience, hard work and perseverance. Itis the toughest part of all the phases and you must survive.
This phase consists of getting all the needed government documents, setting up your office, buying raw materials, hiring your employees, marketing, getting the first contract, and doing the initial business.
Clear Vision: Your aim must be clear and definite at this juncture or it is easy to lose your way around. This is exactly where you put into action the idea that you have in your mind. This phase lasts from the point you begin work on your business until you know how your product is selling in the market.
Never Say Die: There is no rest during this phase. It is like a fight unto death. You cannot fail here. Your attitude must be not to quit at any cost. The initial period will be pretty hard because of fund shortages, low market penetration and high costs. Once the business kicks in you will see your sales going up and access to funds will be easier. Besides, people will come to know about your product and it adds to your business.
The Plateau Phase
Most start-up business entrepreneurs ignore this phase and go to their doom. This is the Plateau Phase, the most dangerous of all.
Fading Growth: After your business has kicked in you get to a level where you are stuck with the same sales, same returns, same old customers, and same old car. The initial expansion is dented and the enthusiasm seems to wane.
Ghost Phase: This is a Plateau or wilderness or can even be called a Ghost plain because it keeps you satisfied with what you have or clouds your mind with a feeling of uselessness. It is easy to get confused at this juncture, and you might end up winding up your business.
How to Escape this Phase: The best way to avoid this phase is to be aware you are in one. Once you get the feeling that you are on the Plateau find out ways you need to get out.
Your business’s main problem is getting stuck here because you have depleted your capital, labor, entrepreneurial abilities, etc. There is nothing more to put into the business but the same old amount of capital-labor and entrepreneurship. Therefore the outcome or sales will also remain the same.
For this you must come up with a new market, or more capital, more labor, entrepreneurship etc. Go back to the Idea Phase and come up with new ideas to boost your sales further. Work on it and execute your idea or else you will get stuck up in the Plateau. You must kick yourself really hard to escape this phase.
The Phase of No Return
You have defeated the ghost of the Plateau and your sales are kicking again. With the new capital, ideas, labor, marketing and entrepreneurship, you are ready once again to conquer the world. You explore new markets and new customers are attracted to your products.
Once you break free you enter the Phase of No Return. Your profit keeps mounting, which can be reinvested into your business for further growth and returns. Now you are on your way as you always dreamed about and there is no looking back.
If you have the heart to succeed, then there is nothing stopping you from becoming the next Mark Zukerberg. All you need is a good idea, a lot of will power, a mind to work hard, and an undying faith in yourself. For this you must constantly prepare yourself for any situation. This article is just a signpost for those of you preparing yourself to guide you to your goal.