How to Start a Startup

Learning how to start a startup is important to your success. In this article, you’ll learn the step-by-step process to move forward with your startup idea. And, we provide you with details and resources to help you within almost every step. This way, you’ll be able to advance more confidently after completing each phase.

There are a lot of steps to starting and building a startup, and you’ll see the table of contents below which gives you insight into what needs to get done. This post also acts as a startup checklist of things you need to complete so you can start and grow.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Before Starting a Startup
  3. Assess your level of expertise
  4. Figure out if you have the time
  5. Develop your startup idea
  6. Build customer profiles and buyer personas
  7. Create a value proposition and unique selling proposition
  8. Do market research
  9. Do competitive analysis
  10. Determine how you’ll build your product, platform, or service
  11. Distribution and acquisition channels
  12. Financing your startup
  13. Create your financial model
  14. Re-visit your idea to see if it’s plausible
  15. Perform a SWOT
  16. Find a co-founder or two
  17. Name your startup
  18. Get a logo made
  19. Build your website or landing page
  20. Set up your social media accounts
  21. Continue learning about entrepreneurship a little bit each day
  22. Building a minimum viable product
  23. Register your startup in your country
  24. Look for an accountant and lawyer
  25. Learn how to use Google Analytics
  26. Test your hypothesis with your MVP
  27. Hand-pick your first customers
  28. Market your service or product
  29. Get press for your startup
  30. Get a bank account
  31. Start charging for your product or service, get more traction, and make money!
  32. Continue to work to obtain product-market fit
  33. Conclusion


Let’s briefly discuss two facts about the startup industry so you can become mentally prepared for your journey.

1) 70 to 75% of venture-backed startups fail according to CB Insights.

2) Up to 90% of startups fail overall.

While these statistics may seem shocking, with a combination of this post, learning from our book called Startup Survival Secrets, reading Why Learning About Startup Failure is Critical to Startup Success, and by taking advantage of our online startup incubator platform, you can learn not only how to start a startup, but also learn how you can avoid mistakes, giving you a greater chance of achieving long-term success.

Secondly, before I dive into each step, I want to share the number one reason for startup failure is so you can try to prevent it.

Then, after this brief section, we dive into the 30-step process of how to start a startup.

The First Step to Take Before You Start Building

One of the most crucial things that startup founders neglect is they skip the first several steps to validate their startup.

Founders often start building a product that nobody wants and/or the founder(s) don’t have the background and expertise to start a startup in a specific niche.

Because of these things, 42% of startups create products that the market doesn’t need — and it’s the number one reason for startup failure.

That’s why it’s important to validate whether your startup idea is really worth pursuing by seeing if you’re making something people actually need, rather than what you think they need.

Keep in mind that your life is more valuable than a startup idea. So don’t get discouraged if an idea doesn’t pan out. You’re better off not wasting years of your life and many thousands of dollars from making a product or service that’s not filling a need.

That’s why we show you how to start a startup in this guide which includes how to validate a startup idea because idea validation is one of the most important steps you can take.

Step 1: Assess Your Level of Expertise and Passion

Mark Cuban on starting a company

Assess your ability to solve the problem that your target market has and your passion for your idea.

Passion is required for startup founders. Expertise in the target market and is also highly preferable. If your expertise and passion for your startup idea are low, then don’t quit your day job to pursue it. Be gladly willing to work on your startup for up to 10 years.

Moreover, expertise in the target is pretty necessary because you’re going to have a really tough time developing something you have little to no clue about.

Step 2: Determine How Much Time You Can Devote

Since it’s a better idea to keep one’s full-time job to be financially sustainable while validating an idea, determine how much extra time you can devote after coming home from work each day. Different roles have different responsibilities, but there’s always going to be work to do. The more people that work with you, the fewer things you need to juggle at once. If you have great business partners to start out with, then you can start up quicker. Having co-founders will provide a lot more flexibility, productivity, and speed to everything you do. Four founders is usually the suggested maximum. However, being your own boss does not mean freedom. Rather, it’s just a different lifestyle choice. Customers and the market become your boss and the job requires longer hours than “normal” 9 to 5 jobs.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Think about what your role would be. Would you be the software engineer creating your app or would you be the CEO and take care of the business-side of things? What other role might you have if not those?
  • Are there other people who want to start the startup with you?  What would be their roles and how much time can they devote?  Also find out how financially stable they are and make sure they are stable before starting up with them. Issues with co-founders is the #3 reason why startups fail.
  • Projects timeline estimates should be doubled or tripled. They always take longer than expected.

Again — don’t quit your job if you’re working full-time already. Put most of your spare time towards developing your startup idea and seeing if the idea is worth pursuing before taking further action. This is called idea validation. The reason behind doing idea validation while working is so that founders have money to live. They don’t want to go homeless because they can’t pay rent or mortgage.  Moreover, nor does one want your wife or husband divorcing them because they can’t pay bills. Once your idea is fully validated and you’re financially secure and have a runway of six to twelve months of money, then you should be able to take the risk and quit your day job.

Step 3: Further Develop Your Startup Idea

If you haven’t already, part of starting a startup properly is brainstorming. Write down your startup idea and describe the problem you are going to solve for your target industry or niche.

Think of your startup idea as a hypothesis so you can test it and see if it works. That’s because it really is a hypothesis until you have validated it by talking to potential customers to see if it’s something they need.

Brainstorm the different business models you can use. Write them down and keep them organized. You will need them for your idea validation when you’re talking to potential customers. You may also get new ideas on how to improve your idea when you’re talking to your potential customers.

Unfamiliar with idea validation? Start learning How to Validate a Startup Idea.

There’s also scientific method for building startups called the lean startup model, and it was created by Eric Ries. This method is talked about in detail in our post, Product-Market Fit: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How to Get It. Keep this in mind when you’re further developing your startup idea.

However, there are many bad startup ideas that even the lean startup model cannot save.

Your startup can truly be a good startup if you’re creating a solution to an existing problem that people experience in a sizable market. When you create this solution and you get significant traction, you’re on your way towards getting what’s called product-market fit. That’s like the holy grail of achievements for startups.

But what’s equally important is making money.

Do you know how you will make money with your potential startup?

Whether you don’t know or you do, I would suggest that you review the 10 major B2B and B2C startup business models to see what will work best for both your target customers and your business.

Make sure that you’re solving a problem that a sizable niche experiences, and that people have stated their desire to use your proposed product/service.

lean startup methodology; how to start a startup

Step 4: Build Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas

Find out who your ideal customer is because your company will be based on what your customers want and need. You want to know as much about that ideal customer as possible.

how to build customer profiles and buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals.

Source: HubSpot

Click on the following link to get the best understanding of how to build customer profiles and buyer personas.

When you build out your customer profile, you’ll need to write down their pain points within their industry or niche so you can better understand what is important to them and what isn’t. Pain is a feeling that creates emotion.

If you can help alleviate some of their pain or eliminate it all-together, then you are on the right track.

You’re creating this buyer persona by stepping into the shoes of your target user and you’re thinking about their life, how they act, what they’d want in a product, their interests or affinities for interests, the type of job they have, and so forth.

You’ll also want demographics, device usage statistics, market segment data, what types of websites they are likely to visit, and any other information you can learn.

Photo by Amy Wright. Source

This is a truly important step for when people are learning how to start a startup. That’s because 42% of startups die because they made something their target customers didn’t want or need. Therefore, really do your best to get to the root of their pain and frustration with your idea for your product/service and make sure they’d use it.

Step 5: Create Your Value Proposition & Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Develop your value proposition and unique selling proposition to show how you provide value to your target customers and what makes your startup unique, or stand out.

A value proposition states what value you are going to be able to provide your target customers.

This value doesn’t inherently mean what is your product doing for them, but rather it answers what problem(s) you are specifically solving for them.

Write down the benefits of your product or service to your target customer and not the features.

What is the pain you’re alleviating from their lives?

Write down how you’re helping your target customer solve a pain point they have.

Get into the root cause(s) of their pain psychologically.

Make your value proposition short but sweet where you tell the target user the main benefit of your product or service.

Need some ideas of some strong value propositions?

Check out this great article from Sumo! 26 Powerful Value Proposition Examples That Convert Visitors – Sumo

Step 6: Market Research

Perform market research to find out information about your market and its demographics.

Find out the market size by typing in your niche and then “market size statistics.”

It’s incredibly important to do your research because you have to find out if your startup idea is really worth pursuing.

Furthermore, if your startup idea is indeed worth pursuing, then you’re going to need all of the research that you did during this phase for other aspects of your business.

The research will help you when you write your executive summary, your marketing plan, your pitch deck, and for writing blog posts, too.

Want to see how to do market research?

We recommend this great article by HubSpot: How to Do Market Research: A 6-Step Guide – HubSpot

Step 7: Competitive Analysis

Perform a competitive analysis to find any competitors and write them in the competitive analysis spreadsheet.

Search by keywords (1 to 2 words) and long-tail keywords (3 to 7 words) in Google, Bing, as well as in social media outlets.

The keywords would be the same keyword combinations someone would use if they were looking for the services or product your startup would offer.

You also want to find out:

  • Where they’re located and how many locations they have.
  • Their social media metrics (such as followers on Twitter, likes on their Facebook page, if there are a lot of people retweeting and liking their tweets, and a bunch of people liking and commenting on their Facebook posts).
  • And if they have any AdWords or Display ads on Google when you’re doing keyword searches.
Moreover, if the market is too crowded with competitors who are established in the market and your startup idea doesn’t have a major differentiator with a unique selling proposition, then you should not move forward with your startup idea. They will easily outcompete you.

Another excellent article by HubSpot shows you how to do a competitive analysis: How to Start a Competitive Analysis: 57 Questions You Need to Ask [Free Kit]

Step 8: Determine How You’ll Build Your Product, Platform, or Service

Determine if you can personally build your product or service and website or if you need outside help.

If you can’t build it or find anyone else that can, then there are, at times, workarounds to create mockups.

Mockups are the most useful when you’re in the process of validating your idea to potential users and/or for investor presentations.

Mockups can help you define how you want to make your app or product so you can show investors and potential customers in order to get funding to build your app, product, service, or site.

Three great sites for creating mockups, wireframes, and digital prototypes are:


If you’re a programmer and you are able to build the software and site for a tech startup, then that’s great.

You will have a lot to learn on the business-side to build it up operationally and to market it properly.  Luckily, our startup development kits can help you with that.

However, if you’re not a programmer or web developer, then you will obviously need some help.

Moreover, finding a good developer to work for equity is rare, but it happens.

Learn how and where to find a technical co-founder via this guide: How to Find a Co-Founder and What to Look For.

However, without a technical co-founder, you usually will have to pay someone or an agency to build your website and/or software/hardware.

In that case, then you could check out the many talented programmers at sites you can find in this post: 13 Best Freelance Websites to Hire Top Talent.

Physical Products & Prototyping

In addition, for startups making physical products, you’ll need to make a prototype.  This article from Entrepreneur called Creating a Prototype from will help you understand physical product development better.

Also, check out this guide to the best 3D printers from 3DHubs.

Step 9: Distribution & Acquisition Channels

Determine where and how your product or service will and can possibly be sold (physical &/or digital).

Think about the physical geography, the digital landscape, if the product needs packaging, or if the product will need to be sold in stores, or online stores, or just your website.

Distribution channels for physical products:

  • Your own store
  • Delivery
  • Chain stores and independent stores
  • Buying via your website
  • Purchasing your product via Amazon

Distribution channels for digital products:

  • Your website
  • Your app
  • Mobile app stores
  • Online retailers
  • Partnering websites

Acquisition Channels:

  • Anywhere your target customers gather
  • Joint-venture partnerships with influencers in the industry and getting them to email the subscribers on their list to market your product or service. Usually, affiliate compensation is provided to that influencer.
  • Social media
  • Facebook groups
  • Paid Ads
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Connect in groups and with others via searches or introductions
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Google +
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Product Hunt
  • Public Speaking
  • Featured articles about you by press
  • Your website — using great copy and lead magnets

Step 10: Financing Your Startup

Determine how much money you can devote to building your startup and if you need outside investment to build and grow it.

Devote between $2,000 and $15,000 USD of your own money.

Be frugal in the sense that you should only spend money on things that are absolutely necessary.

Try to be self-funded as long as possible.  Seeking money from investors implies that you’ll be giving up equity in your startup and that’s okay. You just have to weigh the opportunity.

Investors should ideally be providing more than just their money. For instance, the best investor will be able to provide their resources and network to help you grow as fast as possible. The best investor will invest in startups within the same industry focuses, so try to find investors that match that description.

If you have no expertise in product development or software/web/database development, then you will need to pay a manufacturer or developers to build it. But you need to fund its development, too.

So where can you get outside money to fund your product development at the beginning?

  • Friends and family fundraising
  • Crowdfunding campaigns including equity crowdfunding
  • Sponsorships
  • Seed-stage venture capital firms
  • Angel investors

Step 11: Create Your Business Model

Build out business models using Excel to see exactly how you’re going to make money with your startup.

Include any overhead and fixed costs you have in that model, including a marketing budget, and roughly project future salaries.

Create several pricing strategies so you can see how the different financial models work.

Remember that this business model is exploratory so you can find out if your startup idea is worth pursuing.

It’s an essential element in how to start a startup, but you don’t need to have an insanely detailed spreadsheet.

Gross profit is how much money in sales you get.

Net profit is how much money you have left over from sales after subtracting all of your costs.

Your startup idea needs to sustainably make money and create net profit.

You want to have at least a 40% net profit margin so you can continue to expand. 50% margin or more is the rule of thumb.

Ad revenue is unsustainable for a startup 99% of the time unless you have hundreds of millions of users.

Don’t even worry about how much market share you should aim for.

What matters is how you can improve your growth rate week over week and month over month.

However, you won’t convert every website visitor into a customer, so you have to take that into account.

You should aim to convert between 5 to 10% of your new visitors into leads, and around the same percentage range for your overall leads because there’s attrition.

Depending on your pricing strategy, if you can consistently reach those conversion rates or do better, then you’ll probably have a sustainable business.

Moreover, when projecting revenue for the first two years, factor in how many customers you expect to get per month, based on percentage ranges of your traffic. To learn more about what assumptions to have for a startup financial model, check out this article.

I recommend you check out the article on Medium called SaaS Financial Model: Simple Template For Early-Stage Startups.

To gain a more detailed understanding of financial modeling for startups, check out this article by SlideBean and download the spreadsheet provided by them. Warning: their spreadsheet is complex.

Step 12: Re-Evaluate Your Startup Idea

Re-evaluate your idea to determine if your idea is plausible after the competitive analysis by seeing how saturated the market is based on market share and market size.

If your idea holds up, then find your target customers through social media or other places you know they gather and ask for their opinions on your startup idea.

Ask if your target customers would buy the service at the costs you mention.  Ask them if it would be indispensable to them if they had it.

An internet SaaS startup that targets small market sizes less than 10 million people are much less likely to be worth pursuing, especially if you’re looking for angel or venture capital financing. Moreover, it’s important to be able to make money with your startup, though, without investors.

Step 13: Perform a SWOT

Conduct a SWOT analysis of yourself and the business idea to better understand yourself.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

To do this on yourself it requires you to be open to analyzing yourself, but it’s very useful. Can you constructively criticize yourself? This is especially useful when you’re starting your search for co-founders, which you will learn more about in the next section.

However, a SWOT is only applicable for your startup when you have market data on your competition because they represent the threats.

SWOT analysis infographic showing strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats

Source: Wikipedia

Step 14: Find Co-Founders

Look for co-founders with complementary skill sets and with minimal skill overlap.

If you’re a business developer, look for a technical co-founder, and vice versa. This concept is the same if you’re a marketer because you’ll then need a technical co-founder.

You don’t want to find people to build a startup based on an non-validated idea.

It’s better to validate your startup idea first, and find co-founders after that, because finding the right co-founders is a very serious thing.

Check out this post How to Find a Co-Founder and What to Look For which goes into more depth than anything else.

You can look for co-founders on several sites which are listed in the above link. And there may be people you may already be friends with that have the expertise you need to be a co-founder of yours.

However, don’t just jump into a business partnership. Rather, take some time to make sure you are both on the same page with expectations, company culture, equity allocation, company direction, etc.

It’s important to make sure they have a good personality and are someone whom you could get along with well and spend a lot of time with.  Be prepared to work with them for ten years.

In addition, the values you have and set up for your startup will help you find a co-founder that’s the right fit for you.

In our article How Startup Culture Can Make or Break Your Success, we also discuss finding co-founders who have the same value system because it affects your startup’s ability to stand the test of time and thrive in the long-term.

Step 15: Name Your Startup

Pick a name that has something about your product/service’s core offering within the name.

The process of naming a startup can take a several hours or can span over a period of days, but it’s quite worth it when you find a startup name that fits perfectly with your startup description.

The most basic way to explain how to name a startup is through brainstorming words that match your industry, startup description, customer profile, and all synonyms for them. Then, try to mix and match. In addition, you should obviously make sure that your startup name will be available as a domain name.

However, I suggest you check out this short post to help you figure out how to name a startup: Naming a Startup: How to Name One and Why It Matters. The post will give you a more complete description of how to go about naming your startup.

Step 16: Get a Logo Made

You can make your own logo via Canva’s Online Logo Maker or via Logo Maker (this is not the same logo maker).

Canva’s Online Logo Maker can help you build your brand identity the quick and easy way, thanks to its intuitive, easy-to-use drag-and-drop design platform that’s online and free to use.

If you don’t want to make your own logo, then we suggest you check out this post with the 13 Best Freelance Websites to Hire Top Talent.

There, you’ll discover several websites that feature countless designers who can create a quality logo for you.

Tip: Get two versions of your logo – a square logo and a 16:9 logo for different purposes.

Step 17: Build Your Website

Build a basic website that describes your future product offerings and make a landing page with an email signup.

WordPress is an amazing free website-building tool that has its own comprehensive content management system. However, you’ll need to use a web server hosting company to host your website and there is a learning curve for WordPress & for hosting servers.

You can pick from thousands of free website themes to style your website and hundreds of thousands of plugins to enhance the usability of your website.

Or, you can use landing page builders from places like Mailchimp, HubSpot, Clickfunnels, and more.

Check out this post: How to Structure a Startup Website. It will help you learn about the formatting you need to have for your website and get your mind locked into the mindset to build a great site.

Step 18: Social Media Account Setup

Set up social media accounts so you can reserve your account names before other people get the same idea and snatch up the usernames.

If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, then find a freelancer that can make social media banners for you.

Alternatively, you can use one of the other previously suggested sites to find someone else to make these banners.

Step 19: Learn More About Entrepreneurship and Startups

Start reading books on entrepreneurship for one hour a day or watch videos, listen to audio interviews/lessons, listen to podcasts…just always keep learning.

Learning keeps you grounded and constantly on the path to improving yourself and your startup. Without learning, you become stagnant.

And, as a founder, you need to constantly do other tasks that you’ve never done before.

Visit StartupDevKit daily or weekly to learn more.

Read our e-book: Startup Survival Secrets: Why up to 90% of Startups Fail and How to Make Yours Thrive.

In addition, a pro-productivity tip is that you can “kill two birds with one stone” by listening to pertinent podcasts or audio interviews while exercising or doing things that don’t require brain-power..

Step 20: Build a Minimum Viable Product

Your minimum viable product is meant to be something that will assist you in validating your product/idea with customers early on.

You’ll need a minimum viable product (MVP) to start out.  This basically means it’s a barebones version of what your full idea is supposed to be.

Go to the following link to learn How to Build a Minimum Viable Product.

However, in short, you:

  1. Write out the framework of your product or service.
  2. Write what the main aspects of it are.
  3. Detail how you want it to work.
  4. Then, find out how you can make that happen in a stripped-down way to test your hypotheses further.

Remember, your hypothesis is going to be about solving a pain point for your target customer.

Step 21: Register Your Startup in Your Country

You should register as a corporation, LLC, or LLP (USA Only) once you start seeing lots of users signing up and talking about your product/service.

Legalzoom offers basic services for registering your startup, but they’re not as comprehensive as you might want it to be.

Clerky: The easiest way for startups to get legal paperwork done safely

Clerky has more than just company formation documents. They also have fundraising, hiring, and commercial categories that they provide their services to, as well.

Stripe Atlas: The Best Way to Start an Internet Business

This package gives you just about everything you need legally to start your startup, starting at $500. That tagline is Stripe’s, however, they’re an inexpensive alternative to forming your corporation and provide lots of help and resources. We definitely recommend you consider them.

Cooley GO

Cooley GO is a great free resource for startups to learn about the legalities of starting a corporation, LLC, or LLP. It was created by the law firm, Cooley LLP, and they have extraordinary lawyers for startups. Cooley has 900 lawyers across 12 offices in the United States, China, and Europe.

However, Cooley GO has one-upped LegalZoom and other incorporation services and made this free Incorporation Package Generator.

As per Cooley’s website:

The Cooley GO Docs Incorporation Package Generator allows you to generate any or all of the following documents:

  • Action by the Sole Incorporator
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Bylaws, which automatically includes: Certificate of Secretary confirming adoption of Bylaws and Indemnification Agreements for each named Director
  • Employee Confidential Information and Inventions Assignment Agreement
  • Initial Action by Directors (Unanimous Written Consent)
  • Restricted Stock Purchase Agreement, which automatically includes:
    • Technology Assignment Agreement
    • Stockholder Consent to Receive Electronic Communications
    •  If the stock is subject to vesting, the following will also be included:

Gust Launch

Gust Launch helps serious startups with company formation, legal matters involved with company formation, and even help with some of the financials. Their service starts at $99/mo. Moreover, Gust’s service is pretty good and a decent option if you have the money to spend on their service.

Step 22: Get an Accountant (CPA is better) and Lawyer(s)

Find an accountant and find one or more lawyers for the type of startup you have.


Look for an accountant who can help you keep your books in accordance to the law. You’ll need to track: operating cash flow, profits and losses (P&E), assets, taxation, return on equity or capital gains, net margin, gross profit margin, accounts payable, accounts receivable, EBITDA, etc. You’ll also need to keep track of your burn rate, run rate, and cap table, to name a few.

CPAs are better than regular accountants because there are people with quickbooks experience or something similar who can do many accounting functions, but not all. Ideally, you use someone who became a certified public accountant rather than someone without a license.


Find a lawyer that specializes in the needs a startup has, such as for business formation and corporate law. If you operate in one state of the United States, but are a registered Delaware corporation, then you’ll need someone with that type of experience.

As you scale, you’ll need attorneys that can also protect your company by keeping you in compliance with human resources practices.

In addition, you may need other lawyers for anything else that’s really important, such as for patents, intellectual property, and copyrights.

Patents and Intellectual Property

Look for any existing patents that may prohibit your product from being built.

You might want to schedule a free consultation appointment with an intellectual property, patent, and copyright lawyer (most first-time appointments are free of charge).

See if your product/service violates any intellectual property and patents or if you need specific licensing rights from other companies in order to sell it.

Do the research because you’re better safe than sorry.

Step 23: Learn How to Use Google Analytics

Sign up for Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for your website.

Google Analytics is going to be an integral part of your strategy to obtain product-market fit and growth hack your company to success.

Why? Because the only way to scientifically growth hack is to use analytics to measure and analyze the results of your campaigns. You want to make sure you’re measuring as much as you possibly can.

You will want to measure:

  • Bounce rate
  • Pageviews per session
  • Returning visitors
  • Time on page
  • Content drilldown
  • How many button clicks you get for your videos
  • Landing pages they arrived on
  • Demographics
  • How users found you
  • How many email conversions you get and the conversion rate

Also check out this post: 34 Key Performance Indicators to Measure Your Startup.

Here’s another golden nugget for you:

You can learn all about how to use Google Analytics through free courses by Google!

It’s called the Google Analytics Academy.

If you’re using WordPress, you can download a plugin for Google Analytics and it will place the code on every page of your website.

However, if you’re not using WordPress, then you can search on YouTube or Google “How to set up Google Analytics on your website/android app/iOS app” or about any other questions you may have regarding it.

Step 24: Test Your Hypothesis Using Your MVP

As you start marketing, this is going to be considered the first real test of your hypothesis of whether or not your MVP is going to get traction for you.

The traction is going to be considered how many signups that you’re going to get as well as the number of users that are signing up per day/week/month.

To get signups, you need to have an email list to subscribe them to. Try MailChimp. It’s free for up to 500 subscribers and the price scales up based on the number of subscribers you have unless you want advanced features such as automation.

However, to get signups, you also need to have opt-ins and other ways to get leads.

Check out this post to help you: 10 Lead Generation Strategies to Help You Grow Like Crazy.

You’ll get strategies, tools, and tips on how to make it happen.

Your goal is to get product-market fit where 40% of your paid users basically say that they “can’t live without” your service/product or it becomes indispensable.

When you have reached this goal, you’ve successfully growth hacked your product to product-market fit.

Usually, the process of getting to attaining this 40% goal is also called growth hacking, by experimenting with your marketing activities to make it work.

Step 25: Hand-Pick Your First Customers

Hand-pick your first customers. You can find them on social media or through their websites and contact them via email.

A great article to illustrate what’s meant by hand-picking your customers is by a famous entrepreneur, Paul Graham, called “Do Things That Don’t Scale,” check it out.

Tell your target customers what you’re doing with your startup and why. Show value to your target customers and get feedback on your product/service from them, as well.

You can often get them to pre-order your product if it’s a good match for them.

As discussed in 10 Lead Generation Strategies to Help You Grow Like Crazy, I also mentioned doing things that don’t scale and finding your customers the old-fashioned way.

You can also join startup directories, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and find people through meetups.

If you want to find out who the startup directories are, check out 31 Startup Directories That Can Explode Your Visibility and Growth.

Step 26: Market Your Product or Service

Start your marketing and focus on marketing on one channel very well, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

When marketing, tout the benefits your target users will receive more than the features you have with your product or service. Show them how you’re going to improve an aspect of their life.

Facebook converts the best and has the most users on it.  Your goal should be to bring as many people back to your landing page to sign up to your email list/newsletter as possible.

Provide as much value as possible to your target market and they will be much more likely to sign up to your email list, especially in exchange for an attractive offer.

Or, you can build a community on one of the major social media platforms! Facebook groups, Slack, Clubhouse, and Discord are great for this.

In addition, you can market with paid ads by using Google Adwords, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads.

Step 27: Get Press For Your Startup

Contact members of the press to feature your company to their audience.

Make sure you’re writing information that’s going to be relevant and interesting to the audience of the publication.  Don’t do email blasts with your press release!  This is NOT how to get press.

Instead, you should email each reporter individually.

Communicate like a human being and show value to the reporter that you’re contacting. Show them that you have relevant information that their audience would like. If they ask for more information, then give it to them, but keep it concise.

Step 28: Get a Bank Account

Go to the bank that has the best combination of convenience and account perks.

To do this in the United States, you will first need to file for an EIN, or employer identification number.

You can do so quite easily online and get it within minutes.

You can find the link to the page here.

Whatever bank you pick, remember that you’ll usually have a minimum account balance and monthly maintenance fee.

Don’t worry about checks for your business bank account because you can buy those anywhere for cheap.

Step 29: Start Charging for Your Product/Service and Gain More Traction

Charge money for your minimum viable product and/or do pre-orders for your product/service.

Email is the best converting medium for sales. That’s because your subscribers have warmed up already, assuming you have had consistent email marketing and have built up trust with them.

This means you’ll want to convert your website visitors into leads. Your minimum baseline should be a 2% conversion rate, but you should work towards having at least 5% to 10% of your visitors converting into leads. More than 10% is above average. 15% is great. Any higher is stellar!

The best way to achieve better conversion rates with subscribers and making sales is through better copywriting and A/B testing.

An email drip campaign will help you enhance your chances of making a sale, even if it’s a pre-order.

However, be aware that there are three phases of the buyer’s journey:

  1. Awareness stage
  2. Consideration stage
  3. Decision stage

Moreover, you want people to be as comfortable and informed as possible so that they’re fine with making the decision to buy from you.

Even though email is the highest converting medium to get sales, you'll still need to do a combination of different activities such as:

  • Paid ads on Facebook or Google or wherever your niche is
  • Social media
  • Community building
  • Webinars
  • Joint-venture launches (as affiliates)
  • Influencer marketing
  • Selling it on marketplaces
  • And more

Step 30: Work to Obtain Product-Market Fit

If you’re not hitting your target marks, keep tweaking your content, features, customer experience, and UX/UI.

Measure those tweaks via analytical testing methodologies such as A/B testing and multivariate testing.  Experiment to find out what is working and what is under-performing. Experimentation is the act of growth hacking.

If you change everything at once your data will be skewed.  The best approach is by tweaking and measuring one thing at a time. Learn more about how to growth hack, check out this post on How to Growth Hack Your Startup.

Also, continue to reference Product-Market Fit: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How to Get It.


The single most important thing you can do for yourself and your (potential) startup’s future is to make sure you have a good idea that fills a need or gap in the market.

Work hard, stay positive, be focused on your goals – one by one, and you can be victorious with your startup.

What are some of the insights you’ve had from your startup development?

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One Response to “How to Start a Startup

  • Aaron Vick
    2 years ago

    A truly great blog, love the information you provided on startup success factors!

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