So you decided to take the first step and follow your dream. You’re thrilled at the thought of your new idea, you know no one else has thought of it, and you are ready to become the master of your own business universe. You're fired up and ready to hold the title “entrepreneur”, and you know you were born for this moment.
Then reality hits you like a ton of bricks. Words like trademarks, patents, registrations, setting up an office and filing tax returns take the wind out of your sails.
You look around you and see that everyone running a business seems to know what he or she is doing, “Where do I even start?” you think.
Being a founder of a startup myself, I can relate to this feeling. Wading through the stepping stones of making your vision tangible can seem overwhelming at first, but having a clear understanding of what steps to take first, to get your business kick started can make a real difference and save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
So where do you start? As the new entrepreneur, you have to make every moment count to make your dreams a reality. To do just that, here are my top few startup essentials an entrepreneur must know to kick start their business.
1. Set up a good website
Setting up a good website and having an online presence is almost the unspoken rite of passage for anyone with a business today, as studies have shown that customers are learning more and more to research online before buying offline.
Creating a website enables you to be visible to the right people, encouraging personal customer engagement with your company.
A good website promotes personal customer engagement which in turn builds confidence in your brand. Your website should be your face to the world where people can seek out trusted information about what you do, additionally, Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms.
2. Understand the roles your team members’ play
When you as a founder or as a founding team comes together, one of the first things you will have to do is to understand the different skill sets within your team and decide who will do what in your new company. As a company, you should clearly set out the framework of roles and responsibilities, equity, and terms of departure with co-founders.
The objective of this is to have an open and honest discussion with your team members about their part in the success story you hope to build. It is key to avoid any miscalculations later on.
There are many advantages to having clarity in roles and responsibilities in the early stages of setting up a team. Firstly, it allows you to maximize on your strengths as a team, and having a clear understanding of the different skills sets each member has, can often be crucial in solving problem areas which may arise in the future.
The success of your startup rests as much on the whole team as it does on the founding team.
3. Register as a private limited company:
Before you look for funding registering a company as a private limited company is a must if you want to build a scalable business.
Many startups and growing businesses choose to register as a private limited company as it allows outside funding to be raised easily limits the liabilities of that shareholders and enables them to offer employee stock options to attract top talent.
By doing this your company can also ensure that it is viewed with added credibility and trustworthiness right from the get go.
4. Draft a founder’s agreement
As soon as the company is registered, type up a founders' agreement, based on your previous discussions on the roles and responsibilities each team member has agreed to play. A founders' agreement outlines the various roles and responsibilities of the founding members of a company, the equity vested in them, the ownership of intellectual property created by them and their roles and responsibilities. It is a broad agreement covering various aspects of the endeavor that the founders are about to undertake, including the consequences of their departure or death.
Drafting an agreement can clear the air, as often many matters tend to not be discussed between co-founders. This agreement gives the early team members the opportunity to discuss these matters, clearing any doubts and allowing for a better relationship in the long-term. This also gives members the opportunity to clarify their role in the company and also gives every founding member a good understanding of what the other founding members do.
5. Have a shareholders' agreement with the investors
A Shareholders' Agreement is simply an agreement governing the relationship between the shareholders of a company. These include their rights and obligations, transfer of shares, how the company is going to be run and how important decisions are to be made.
A Shareholders' Agreement clarifies all the powers of a shareholder and the rights you reserve as the issuer of such shares by defining the rights and liabilities of all. Moreover, it acts as a regulator of the relationship between small and large shareholders. Shareholders' Agreements are perfect for small, startup companies that don't want to formally amend the constitution every time there is a small change.
6. Trademark your name
Think Tide, Nike or McDonald's, do you also want your business have a unique identity? A trademark is an intangible asset that can be enormously valuable, should your brand succeed.
Your trademark is essentially the character of your brand, and as soon as your brand gains traction, or even if you're certain of using a particular brand name for the long run trademark registration is essential.
Having a registered trademark provides your company with legal protection from being infringed upon, particularly in sectors in which piracy is rampant, and it makes it easy to establish your right to it in court. Registering your trademark is also the first step toward ensuring your customers identify your products or services with only your brand.
7. Apply for VAT or Service tax registration
Often many start-ups who are simply too involved in building their brand to worry about their accounts, forget about their taxes. Now, you may argue that they’re focusing on what matters more, but many businesses ultimately fall under because they’ve run out of money when they needed it the most.
Filing your taxes can help you save money so it can be put to use when you need it the most.