You've probably heard plenty of advice from outsiders on how to develop your startup idea, even if there probably isn't any one guide that's 100% accurate. Every industry is different, so what one person says may not work for you—that’s a given.
This isn't to say you shouldn't follow a basic outline, which includes taking on the tough realities of today’s competitive business landscape. Competition is more intense than it ever has been; everyone has the Next Big Idea, which means that you're likely going to have hundreds (if not thousands) of competitors trying to sell the same things as you.
In this regard, you have to find ways to stand out by doing some research, convincing backers you're unique, and thinking about how your website looks. All of these intertwine into a form of branding that can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors, even just a little.
Let's take a look at how you can get started fleshing out your startup idea so it can grow from a crazy idea into something with a real chance at success.
Researching the Potential Market
Far too many people with startup ideas don't study the market to see how they can differentiate from others out there doing the same thing. No idea is 100% original, as much as we’d like to tell ourselves otherwise. Some people with startup ideas prefer to keep their eyes shut in the beginning out of fear they'll feel defeated knowing how much competition they have, but it’s a hard reality that must be faced early on.
If you study your competitors carefully, you can better define what makes you different. This may take some tweaking from what you initially planned. Yet even a slight difference can make a big difference in getting consumer to choose you over anyone else.
As you define your ideas, use words that are clear, especially when attempting to find backers. Don't be vague about what your product does to help solve a particular problem. That clarity will make all future messaging and pitching a whole lot easier.
Finding Your Financial Backers
You've probably seen enough of ABC's "Shark Tank" to know how challenging it is finding financing for startups. Granted, you probably won’t be pitching to Mark Cuban any time soon, but it’s still a hurdle you must clear. Finding venture capital is never easy, yet when you seek what Inc. calls a "business incubator," you can at least gain some valuable business advice.
This doesn't necessarily have to mean someone putting up money so you can get started. Sometimes it just means finding business mentors you trust who can get you on the right path. Nevertheless, you should look toward whether investment capital is available in the event you need it.
Once you find capital, you'll have to present yourself in front of an investor. It's here where you need to refine your startup pitch by tapping into what you’ve already researched (as mentioned above) and showing how you stand out from the herd.
Branding Your Website
Branding is a major part of what distinguishes you from competitors. A distinct look and feel to all elements of your online presence and marketing materials will catch people’s attention. It’s what helps them remember you long after the first impression, and what will solidify your startup’s identity through all the stages of its evolution and growth.
Think of how easily you can identify certain companies just by seeing a single letter styled in a certain way or a certain shade of a color? That is branding at its best.
You don't even have to use your products directly in your branding to bring a sense of familiarity to those visiting for the first time. And you can reflect your startup’s philosophy by making your website look simple without looking like you cut corners. Styles like flat design (with some variations) can help you streamline things while still looking professional.
There is obviously a lot that goes into developing a startup idea; the above is only a sliver of what lies ahead. But starting with these basic concepts will get you moving in the right direction toward not only covering all your angles, but making sure people know you mean business from Day 1.