• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

How to Start a Startup Business

ByLinda W. Smith

Jul 1, 2022

While the image of perfecting a pitch deck and then pitching your concept to investors and VCs is central to our shared understanding of being a founder and an entrepreneur, many of the world’s largest and most valuable technology companies – from MailChimp to Shutterstock to Hewlett-Packard – started its path to success.

While funding obviously provides additional resources and risk mitigation – not to mention an established support system of experienced industry veterans – getting started is not without its upsides, especially in terms of freedom and control. to run your new business as you see fit.

Among the local businesses that have forged this path to success in Los Angeles, one of the most notable is digital marketing agency GR0. We spoke with co-founder and CEO Kevin Miller about his own bootstrapping journey and the advice he would pass on to his fellow founders.

While he concedes the natural drawbacks of funding your startup yourself — particularly regarding the strain on a founder’s time and personal resources — for Miller, the seed process itself was his own reward.

“Watching your business grow, seeing new hires every week, and building office space is so rewarding,” Miller said. “I can’t believe I can now go into my own office and the employees there work hard and take their careers seriously. The fact that we are now a company that people turn to and learn from is so satisfying. »

Here are some of Miller and GR0’s best suggestions for starting and growing your own business from scratch:

Set priorities

For startup founders, it is absolutely essential to keep expenses low in order to conserve resources. “When you raise $10 million in equity, you can hire whoever you want and invest in the platforms and tools you need,” Miller pointed out. “But with startup, every dollar counts.”

He recommends dividing expenses into two groups — must-haves versus “nice-to-have” expenses — and then ruthlessly focusing on only the must-haves. As an example, Miller cites having office space as only “nice to have” for the first few months of GR0; instead, he worked out of his own salon, which freed up funds to pay for “essential” legal counsel.

While missing out on important resources like a full-time designer or other key hires can end up costing the founder time and aggravation, it eventually pays off in freeing up future budget restrictions.

Don’t sweat the small details

It’s probably not possible for a startup founder to stay cool, confident, and relaxed all the time. It’s a summary that’s hard to even imagine. Still, Miller suggests “looking at the big picture and flying 30,000 feet” as an important overall mindset and strategy.

“Just focusing on the big picture and knowing you’re working towards something bigger will help you pull through,” Miller advises. “Are you getting closer to the biggest dream you have? If so, don’t worry.

Finding the right co-founders and early recruits

When looking for collaborators for a new startup project, it can be tempting to look for complementary skills, to ensure that the company has a balanced and experienced team. But for Miller and GR0, an individual’s personal outlook is just as important as their background and qualifications on paper.

“The most ideal traits are honesty, reliability and integrity,” Miller said. “There will be times when you and a co-founder will have differing opinions, but if you approach each situation with integrity and honesty, you can get through those times.”

He recommends seeking out new hires based on their positive attitude, enthusiasm, and willingness to dig into the relevant details at hand.

“The most important trait you can have is a positive attitude,” Miller noted. “At the start, we didn’t yet have the budget to build a full team. So having someone come in with a positive attitude and ready for any challenge is so impactful.

Achieve your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The minimum viable product (or MVP) was first introduced as part of the “Lean Startup” methodology devised by Eric Ries. It’s basically a no-frills version of the product or service your startup will provide, allowing the team to start working with customers and learning more about the industry and the company, with the less upfront effort and cost.

While it’s important to develop and launch an MVP as quickly as possible, it’s also important that the offer speaks to and aligns with overall business goals. If it doesn’t attract the users that the company hopes to convert into long-term customers, and if it doesn’t provide specific and valuable feedback and data to the team, it doesn’t provide comprehensive benefits and solid to the company as a whole.

Miller suggests waiting until the company has an MVP who can handle a full sales cycle independently.

“If it can go through all the stages and take in a customer,” he said, “then it’s ready to go.”

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