Blog Tips: 10 steps to a successful startup

As Albert Einstein said "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new". In fact, being an entrepreneur and working in an ecosystem of startups involves making mistakes and learning from them, both with ours and others. And if we think about it, sometimes it is from certain failures or certain problems from the past that great ideas are born and great businesses are formed. Naturally, it is better when we identify errors before we fall into a mess, isn't it? That's why today we bring you another "Blog Tips". The purpose of this text is to mention some tips that, for us, as a startup accelerator with 10 years of experience, make all the difference to the success of an enterprise.

1. Your idea seeks to solve an existing problem or need

It doesn't matter how creative or imaginative an idea is if it’s not useful. It may be something that doesn’t exist yet, but what will really determine the success of your business is to simply check “why should people care?”. Before developing your startup, it is advisable to answer these questions: what is the real need that I am serving with this idea? Is this idea innovative and relevant to someone? How many people would actually buy? If your invention doesn't add anything, it probably won't be successful. Also, it helps a lot if you start by doing a market study, to understand the needs of the target audience and the possibilities you may consider. Interview people, call companies, talk with your customers. Market study is key! So don’t be afraid, search on linkedin and in your network, pick up the phone and ask!

2. Specify your area of expertise and your value proposition

A value proposition is extremely necessary and it is related to the previous topic. This serves to differentiate you from your competitors as a brand. Nobody will buy you anything or request your services if they don't know you or have a good image about your company. Defining your area of expertise and creating an USP - Unique Selling Proposition - helps you to create your position, that is, the perception of your brand in the minds of customers and consumers. To define this, think "what does my business have that distinguishes it from others?". Porter, the “father” of strategy, used to say that you can be differentiated in two ways: you have a set of valued characteristics that others don’t offer, or because you are cheaper. Please, don’t just shoot your shoots based on a low price. Supermarkets have proven that is a really bad strategy in the long run. If your product is really what you say, people will purchase it for a fair price, you don’t need to be the cheaper, especially if you are faster, more efficient, easier or anyhow better.

3. Great team, great work

A good team goes through a good leader. A leader with attitude, determination, ethics and a visionary eye. But what is a leader with no one to lead? Make sure that you have a good team that understands the company's mission, vision and culture and that has the necessary knowledge to bring the idea to success. Don’t forget, you need different skills. Hiring just managers, or just engineers won’t do it. Most of all, if you want the best people to work with you, you need to offer them something irresistible: a dream, a career, a life purpose. So think twice before hiring, and making a job offer. Maybe ask for a trial period and if you see the person really makes a difference, set KPIs and consider offering equity. Even if the dream comes from only one person, we never get anywhere alone, right? So, make sure your dream becomes a team’s dream, in order to build a dream team 😉

4. Look for guidance

Nothing better than asking for help to those who most understand the subject. We advise you to have mentors and surround yourself with people who know how to advise you on the best steps to take, in order to achieve success. Nobody is born taught and that's okay. Remember that mentors themselves have also learned from other mentors and are often happy that you seek their advice. Look for well-connected people and high-level people within companies that could be your target, or look for entrepreneurs who have done it in your area, once again with a really good network. Also, if you want high level people involved you might have to consider 0.5-1% equity once your company reaches a certain valuation. Maybe provide a % of the sales or fundraise they help you conquer.

5. Paperwork makes a difference

When we talk about paperwork, we talk about creating a commercial entity, signing contracts to close deals, registering your intellectual property, patenting your brand. All of this to defend yourself and avoid serious problems in the future. This may seem unnecessary at first, when you are still working “in the garage”, but when your business starts to grow it is a good idea to start thinking about it. Make sure you have a good lawyer to resort to. You’ll need it in every single contract and business deal you do. Believe us, we have seen startups “sinking the ship Titanic style” because they lack good lawyer advisory in all steps of the way.

6. Define a goal and not ambition less than success

Never lose your focus. Have you ever heard of the expressions “go big or go home” or “dream big”? Of course we don't say to stop being realistic. Try to set an attainable but ambitious goal and work towards it. Sometimes it is easy for things to change course, but having a clear goal in mind will certainly help you make the best decisions. Remember that society largely joked with Walt Disney's idea of making an entire movie out of cartoons. Even his wife thought it was madness to think that adults would sit through a full-length cartoon musical based on a fairy tale. But Disney ignored the naysayers and pressed on with his ambitions — and the rest, as we say, is history. So follow this great man advise:

7. Develop a marketing and communication plan

What is a business without a plan? The marketing plan has a leading role, as it anticipates, formalizes and articulates the decisions to be made. It guides the company's strategies in order to obtain greater efficiency and effectiveness. It is also essential to have a communication plan because what’s the point of having a startup if no one knows about it? Also, a good communication plan is the key to preserving a good image of the company. It is a good idea to think of a strategy and the best tactics to achieve it, which involves defining a message and choosing the right channels to disseminate it. We can talk about this in future posts, if you like. Remember you will only succeed if you make sales. So more important than an investor pitch, is a sales pitch 😉

8. Create relationships and don’t be afraid of competitors

Help others and they will help you - If there is something BGI has learned with Bostonians is this. Being the most concentrated, and most probably, more successful entrepreneurial hub in the world, they truly believe it's a result of cooperation and mutual support. A relationship is never one-sided. Try to create good relationships with other companies and yes, even including your competitors, maybe even try cooperation, or complementing each other. Trust us when we say, there is no one billion dollars idea, but rather a one billion dollar execution. If you are committed to making it happen, sharing your dream and increasing your network will always help you open doors and raise awareness. Make sure you have a mailing list of trusted people you share a monthly newsletter with later developments of your business.

9. Get investment and be patient with the profit

At the beginning of our report, our CEO Gonçalo Amorim quotes an expression from our mentor Prof. Cooney: “there is no point in launching an endeavor in technology-based innovation if you are not patient - you will be lucky if you have any meaningful results in less than seven or eight years ”. We know that sometimes it is difficult to invest and not see the return right away, but patience while working hard is key. In addition, if you are looking for financing for your startup there are many options to get it. Check out our programs and find out how you can get funding and many other aids to successfully complete your project!

10. If it doesn't make you happy, it's not worth it. Have fun!

Like everything in life, if it doesn't make you happy, it's because you're not doing the right thing. Starting a business from scratch is not an easy task. On the other hand, it is easy to fall into demotivation. You have to like what you do, otherwise you will be miserable every day of your work and believe us... it’s not worth it! At BGI we always try to ensure that our work days - whether at home or at the office - are always productive and always in #BGIWay, which means that at the end of the day we always have something to make us smile, to fulfill our hearts: Making your dreams come true.💫💭

Don't forget to read our previous Blog Tips: How to Register a Company in Portugal.

BGI is always #TakingYouFurther! 💪🏻