There are a number of ways to start a company but perhaps the best way is the one where you maintain all of the control. Starting from scratch with no outside funding is called bootstrapping. In order to boot strap a company you have to be prepared to live on kraft dinner for a while. When I say that I mean that you don’t bootstrap a company with 100K salaries. Every member of the founding team has to be prepared to live and work like a student for the first year of two in order to get the company on its feet.
Once the product has been defined and foundation accounts established, the success of the start-up can be measured by the sales. A successful start-up should be able to double its sales every year for the first five to ten years. If the sales don’t prove out, it may be time for a pivot or time to rethink the entire idea. Having been personally involved with start-ups for the past 15 years I can say with some certainty that there is no point holding onto a company that is not realizing exponential growth in that first five year period.
Like most things in life, there are always exceptions but be prepared to suffer long and hard if you proceed with an under performer.
Bootstrapping usually involves bringing together young minds with a good understanding of the latest technology and marketing tools. Today that means using the web to track key words for searches and modifying your marketing message on a daily basis if that is what it takes to draw customers to your message. I have seen this in action and it works!
Once the foundation accounts are in place you cannot stop. You have to partner with other companies and leverage their relationships and sales teams to continue to grow you brand and the associated products. Find companies that can benefit from what you do and use what they do to increase your reach.
The Koreans and Japanese have been grouping companies together for many years to build more complete solutions for end users. The partnerships feed on themselves with ideas being shared between partners and customers feeling like they are dealing with a much bigger organization.