The Startup Checklist: What You Need To Launch a Successful Business Idea

Do you have a great idea for a new startup?

It’s easier than ever to get a business off the ground. Though the overall rate of business formation is declining, per CityLab, businesses that do form today are more dynamic and growth-oriented than their predecessors. Young companies valued at $1 billion or more remain vanishingly rare, but plenty of budding entrepreneurs nevertheless scale their ideas into profitable enterprises.

Even in today’s entrepreneur-friendly business climate, turning a great idea into a roaring success requires smarts, discipline, hard work and patience. It also requires organization—in particular, a checklist of resources and action items necessary to the success of any budding business. Here’s a look at the most important elements of that list.

Business People and Creativity Concept

Clear, Realistic Action Plan

For starters, you need an action plan that turns your ideas into action—and holds you and your team accountable as you pursue your early-stage goals.

“No matter how good your idea, you need a clear, realistic action plan to translate it into results,” says Miami-based entrepreneur George Otte. “This should be a step-by-step outline of action items to be accomplished, with hard deadlines and progress benchmarks for larger goals.”

Seasoned, Tough Board or Advisory Team

Even the most capable, experienced founder can’t anticipate every new development that will arise to challenge their startup in the early stages. Before launch, you therefore need to build an advisory team (if not a formal board) of seasoned experts with a range of professional and personal backgrounds and experiences. These people need to be strong-willed and confident enough to tell it like it is, even if you don’t appreciate what they have to say. Used properly, a strong advisory team helps navigate challenges and pitfalls that would swamp founders committed to going it alone.

Flexible Space

Your startup needs space. If you’re on your own or part of a small team, a cut-rate co-working package (or even temporary camps in coffee shops) may be perfectly fine. If your team is larger, you’ll likely need a dedicated office suite. Though costly, a physical address and “nerve center” will make your team more efficient and professional.

Effective Legal Support

Starting a business presents myriad legal challenges. Unless you’re a lawyer yourself, you’re simply not going to be able to address (or even anticipate) all these challenges on your own. Though you’re unlikely to have the resources to hire in-house counsel off the bat, make sure your advisory team has some legal expertise, and use third-party legal resources to plug any gaps. On the legal front, it’s better to be overly cautious than to be forced to clean up a costly mistake after the fact.

Minimum Viable Product

Before your company can see any meaningful revenue, you need a minimum viable product, or an early version of the solution you envision—one that’s good enough to release to the public, but that will inevitably change and improve with feedback from users and testing by your team. Over time, your minimum viable product will hopefully turn into a minimum lovable product, but you need to start somewhere. And your action plan needs to include a framework for evaluating your product at every stage of its life cycle.

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