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The 4S’s of all startups

Here are the four basic elements of every startup business. Use this as a checklist for making sure your new venture is ready for a take-off.
By Peter Gasca |
The 4S’s of all startups

The task of launching a startup boils down to four simple considerations. If your business idea has been fleshed out to embrace these elements, you may be ready to launch--in theory anyway.


Related: 6 things they don't tell you when you leave the big corporate world for your own business


1.   1. Service.


Have you identified a solution to a problem or pain of your customers?
Will your solution improve the lives of consumers?

Whether you're manufacturing a product or providing a physical service, your company must deliver value to customers. Although new products are always being created, your startup does not necessarily need to reinvent the wheel.

Consider, for instance, that many amazing companies started because their founders had a problem, but there was not an existing solution in the marketplace. Or if the solution existed, it was insufficient, unsatisfactory, or too expensive.

Find a problem and fix it.


2.   2. System.



Can you produce and deliver the product or service you have developed?
Could someone else produce and deliver it for you?


Gain clarity about the system you'll use to produce and deliver your product or service. Sometimes an idea is so new or innovative that the capability to produce it is too expensive, limited, or doesn't exist. But an existing company or service might be able to make a product for you and bring it to market faster and more efficiently, perhaps through a licensing arrangement.


4s_2.pngPlus you must decide other important business matters, from the structure of your company to how you will manage finances and keep files. While you will be responsible for such administrative tasks at the start, eventually they could be delegated to the right team.



Your priority is to meet and build demand.


Related: 4 things entrepreneurs should think about that may not be in the business plan


3.   3. Strategy.


How will you land your first customer?
Do you know how you will find your millionth one? 
How will you scale up the business in size? 
Have you considered how you will exit the company and gain a profit?


So many entrepreneurs start with a great idea, launch a company, and then it fizzle after a short time when they run out of money. They may lack the ability to scale the enterprise larger or have diversified the business too much (or too little).


Having a vision and considering a short- and long-term strategy will help ensure that you are leading your company in a sustainable direction. Developing a business plan is great place to start, but these days flexibility is crucial for success.


Consider coming up with a strategy as being like preparing for a long sailing trip across the sea. Clearly, you would want a map and a destination, the proper tools for navigation and a plan for restocking--as well as the awareness you might have to deviate from the course in an emergency.



This early startup planning is a challenge for most entrepreneurs since many have little experience and don't know what to expect. This is where finding advisers and mentors and even experienced co-founders can be a tremendous help.


Always have a vision and a plan.


4.   4s_3.png4. Spine.


Do you have the courage to start?



The last element for planning a new venture is finding the courage to start. From experience, I know that if you have the first three elements of a startup in place, there's no reason to wait to launch. Understand, though, that a significant number of new startups fail.


It's possible that you won't be successful in your first business. I believe the best entrepreneurs are those who brandish humble confidence and remember the valuable lessons learned from a few early failed attempts.


Remember that launching a startup is like dating. The first date is always the most uncomfortable, with unknowns and insecurities gnawing. For certain, it only gets easier.


Related: 6 things that aspiring entrepreneurs must consider and do


Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.


Images from Flickr (Startup Weekend Leuven and Heisenberg Media)


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