What Is an Early Stage Startup?
Early stage startups focus on product development, building a customer base and establishing a strong cash flow. To learn strategies for starting a business and growing past the startup phase, keep reading.
Early Stage Startup Meaning
Every business goes through four stages:
Early stage business models often involve finalizing your product or services and gathering market data. This is also called the seed stage of a startup. In many cases, it also includes getting enough funding to support product development.
While early stage companies are laying the foundation for success, they also face a unique set of challenges including:
Tough competition: It can be hard to make a name for yourself and compete with existing companies in your industry. You’ll have to strategize to find ways to gain competitive advantages.
Finding the right employees: You’ll want to hire people who are action-oriented, dedicated to their job, enjoy teamwork and know how to treat customers well. You also want employees who share your brand’s vision.
Balancing finances: There are a lot of upfront costs with opening a business. At first, it can be hard to find enough funding. To avoid unnecessary debt, you’ll want to do your research and always make informed decisions.
Gaining customers: To build a strong base of customers, you’ll need to make sure your products align with their expectations and needs. You’ll also want to market your products effectively and offer quality customer service. Keep in mind that establishing all of these elements can take some time.
How Do You Assess an Early Stage Startup?
Many people consider the startup phase to be the riskiest stage of a business. In fact, 42% of startups fail because there’s no market need for their product of service.1 If you’re not sure how to move forward with your business, ask yourself these question to gain more focus and understanding:
- What problem does my product or service solve for potential customers?
- Who is my target market?
- How will my startup standout from its competitors?
- What kind of financing do I need?
- How will I test my product idea?
- What skillsets will I need to hire into my startup?
- What are the short and long term goals of my business?
- What taxes will I have to pay for the company?
- Do I have a startup marketing strategy for promoting my brand?
- Do I have enough time to devote to the startup?
Early stage startups will often face these barriers:
- Operating with less than 10 employees
- Paying competitive salaries to its workers
- Securing funding from angel investors or venture capitalists
- Having a small customer base
Despite these obstacles, early stage startups are more adaptable and receptive to change than larger businesses.
How to Grow Past the Early Stage Startup
If you want to turn a great idea into a strong business, you’ll need to strategize. Some ways you can advance your startup include:
Placing urgency on all your tasks: You’ll want to get as much done as you can. This increases your productivity and helps your company grow.
Focusing on customer retention: You can do this by providing excellent customer service, high-quality products and delivering more than expected. For example, if your client expects your delivery in one week, make sure it gets there sooner.
You can also increase your customer conversion rate by using content marketing strategies like creating a blog that engages your targeted audience. You can also interact with potential customers on social media to gain more business over time.
Not overspending: It’s important that you stick to your budget. Overspending can put you in too much debt. This only hurts your short- and long-term profits.
Promoting a continuous learning environment: Encouraging your employees to take training, engage in collaborative opportunities, and mentoring can help your business innovate at a quicker speed.
Use the lean startup methodology: This strategy is all about adapting to changing markets. It relies on testing minimum viable products (MVPs) with customers to learn more about their expectations. These MVPs are cheaper than developing final products to test with the market.
Secure Early Stage Startup Funding
A steady cash flow is essential when your business first opens. You’ll need this to keep your company competitive, fund innovative ideas and help finalize your products.
Some common startup costs include:
- Office space
- Product marketing initiatives
- Your website
You can get the funding you need by:
- Getting a bank or Small Business Administration (SBA) loan
- Joining a startup incubator, which give resources (and sometimes funding) to budding businesses
- Working with venture capital firms or investors, who look for business models that can prove they’ll be successful
- Finding angel investors, who give money to startups that fit their interests and can show a strong business plan
- Asking your friends and family for a loan