Whether you’re in the early stages of your startup or getting ready for launch, your main focus is success. It’s the dream of every entrepreneur to bring their vision to life, and watch it succeed and grow. But there are many steps between the dream and the launch. These nine simple tips can help your startup get off on the right track. 1. Solve a Real Problem with Your Product You can have an innovative and exciting product, but if that product does not solve a real problem, you may have a hard time reaching your goals. The key most important thing is to find a real problem, find a way to solve that problem and adapt as those problems change. 2. Build the Right Team The business may be your vision, but you’ll need a team of people to bring your dream to life. The right team will help you reach your goals as if it were their own. The wrong team could potentially destroy your dream. Surround yourself with people who understand your vision, and fit into the culture and values you’re trying to create. Vet your team carefully. It may take longer to find the right people, but it’s a time investment that’s worthwhile. When you surround yourself with like-minded, driven people, your startup will stand a much better chance of succeeding. 3. Make it Official In the early days of startup, paperwork may be the last thing on your mind, but operating a business without any entity in place puts your personal assets at risk. Talk to a professional to determine the best entity type for your business and to protect your assets. Forming an LLC or a corporation will provide personal asset protection while allowing you to grow your team. It’s not worth the risk of doing business without any protection for your personal assets. Anything can happen along the way, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. What if a product tester is injured and wants to sue for damages? If you’re operating as a sole proprietor, you’d be on the hook for the bill. 4. Have Signed Contracts Most entrepreneurs don’t think about legal issues in the early stages of launching a start-up, but overlooking key important things – like having signed contracts – could harm your business in the end. Every agreement should be formalized in writing through a signed contract to protect all parties for legal disputes. Start with a standard contract and make changes with each new project. The exact details of the contract will vary and be dependent on the nature of the project, but generally, contracts should include the following: Names of all parties involved Terms and scope of the project Deadlines Timelines for payments What happens if deadlines and/or payments are missed Deliverables It’s worth the expense to work with a lawyer to draw up a standard contract for your business. It’s important to ensure that the agreement is legally binding and enforceable. 5. Address Design and Manufacturing Issues Now If you’re developing a product, establish a testing protocol. Frequent and consistent product testing throughout all stages of design and manufacturing will help prevent liability issues. If defects or flaws are discovered, take steps to remedy the problem now – even if that means having to find a new design. Otherwise, you could be held liable for outright negligence if the product is deemed unsafe and it is discovered that you knew about the defect. Address faults and defects now in the early stages of your startup. Otherwise, you may wind up having to recall your product in the future and may face lawsuits. 6. Don’t Ignore Web Development and SEO It’s never too early to start thinking about web development and SEO. It’s okay to start off with a simple website that explains your vision and message. You can always add features that customers want in the future. Right now, the important thing is to focus on optimization and creating effective landing pages. Keep in mind that SEO takes time and requires ongoing, consistent work to be effective. The sooner you get started, the easier it will be to rank for the keywords you want. 7. Start Investing in Content Marketing Now Content is the basis of all digital marketing campaigns. Whether it’s blog posts, video content or visual content, start creating your content now to promote your startup’s vision. It’s never too early to educate consumers on why they need your product and how it will benefit them. But it’s important to remain consistent in your efforts. If you begin promoting your brand and product now and then take a break for a few months, you’ll be wasting your time. Customers will forget all about your company and its vision. Flesh out a content marketing plan that stretches to launch day, and then you can begin working on a new strategy for post-launch. 8. You Don’t Need Every New Shiny Marketing Tool That Launches Keep things as simple as possible right now. Stick to tried-and-true marketing methods. Don’t run out and buy every new marketing tool that launches. Take advantage of free tools, like Google Analytics, at the start. Worry about expensive marketing tools in the future when your sales volume justifies the cost. Try out different approaches, measure their results, and find out what works for your business. Don’t make things too complicated, and don’t spend precious capital on expensive tools that you don’t necessarily need. 9. Take it Slow and Have Fun In the early days of a startup, passion and excitement can drive you forward. But it’s easy to get so enthralled and obsessed with the end-game that you rush the process and skip important things. Be cautious and get things right the first time. Work out the kinks. It’s better for the launch to take longer than to present customers with a buggy product or poorly-designed website. Don’t forget the importance of having fun. All of your hard work will be for naught if you are miserable every day. Strive to create a positive, fun work culture. There’s no reason you can’t have fun on the job as long as the work gets done.