You’ve been thinking for a while about launching your own startup. Through your job, your volunteering experience, or by spending time with your family, that light bulb has gone off. You’ve been mulling over a product or a service you think a lot of people could benefit from.

How can you start? It isn’t easy, but there are some basic steps you can take as you’re thinking things over to put yourself in a great position for the long run. Keep in mind that turning your lightbulb moment into a thriving business won’t follow a linear path, and you’ll likely fail before you succeed. However, if you’re ready to work hard and put in the effort long before you make your first sale, you’re already ahead.


Begin to Identify Yourself as a Professional

Before anything else, you’ll need to adjust to the idea of viewing yourself as an entrepreneur. Your product could change lives and reach thousands of people. Be proud, own your idea, and practice telling others about it. A good first step is to get down your pitch—being able to explain in 30 seconds or less what your product or service is and what makes it unique.

Pay attention to how you conduct yourself, and treat people in a professional and courteous manner. Invest in business cards and establish an official email address and phone number for your upcoming business. Ensuring you’re ready will make the launch smoother.


Compile Information

In today’s world, it’s not enough to simply sell a product; businesses thrive when they also function as a resource. If you’d like to succeed, you need to become an expert on your product, your industry, and your target audience.

To establish yourself as an authority, utilize content marketing. Take careful consideration of the tone and voice you want your business to have. Practice creating this through blog posts, videos, webinars, podcasts, and guest posts. You can write guest blog posts to be featured in other publications, which means your business is introduced to a wider audience.


Build Traction

Before you officially launch your startup, it helps to have some customers lined up and waiting. Start building a customer base by promoting your business on social media networks. Ask for opinions, and start establishing solid customer support and service. Soak up what people are saying, both the good and the bad, and incorporate that feedback.

If you have a blog on your website or a newsletter, encourage friends, family, and social media followers to subscribe so they can stay up to date. Update your content regularly so it stays fresh. If you’re speaking with someone in person, this is the time to break out those business cards. The professional phone number and email? This is when that preparation starts to come in handy.


Make Sure All Your Finances Are In Order

This step may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s essential to calculate whether you actually have the financial resources to be able to handle a startup. There are many hidden costs of starting a business, and 82% of the time, failure is caused by cash flow problems.

It’s a good idea to begin while you’re still working full time. While this means that you might be pulling all-nighters, it’s worth it to have money to live on until your startup takes off. In the meantime, start figuring out how you can fund your business: investors, peer-to-peer lenders, crowdfunding, or securing loans from a bank.

On top of that, you should get all your tax and legal issues in order. In this case, it’s best to speak to professionals and find out what your taxes are going to be like once you launch your startup. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money down the road if you set your responsibilities straight from the beginning.

All great startups begin with great ideas. If you have one of your own, take some time to nail down these steps. This way the launch of your startup leads to the success of your dreams. For some more tips be sure to check out 5 Morning Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs


Written by Laura Myers