Start-Up TicklistStart-up Hub: A Handy Checklist

Entrepreneur. What does it mean exactly? A person who starts a business where there was none before? In the 60s Drucker described it as “an entrepreneur searches for change …  exploits opportunities”. I think change and upsetting the status quo are key. And then making some targeted, well spun NOISE. These days it’s no good being a great inventor if nobody hears about it or wants to buy it. So my definition is a simple formula. Entrepreneurship = innovation + marketing.


The biggest failure with start-ups is usually in commercialising the concept and in not finding enough customers to justify the business. There may be a business, but is it really sustainable? Is your interest in the project clouding your judgement?

One good way to address the subjectivity issue is to set down your plan on paper. This is not for the bank or investors. It’s for you to decide if your idea is good enough. Don’t try to do this in your head. Get a piece of paper out and write down the answers. Try to complete it out in one sitting. If you can’t complete it or are you missing key information update it when you can. Keep this page and refer to it.

 10 things to think about before setting up

  • Do you believe in this project enough? Are you really passionate about it? It’s a lean path at the start and one that requires drive.
  • What are you afraid of? And why?
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • What is the problem in the market that you are setting out to fix? Or the customer desire you are looking to satisfy? Make things that people really want!
  • What are the top 3 benefits your product/service offers customers? No industry jargon – the words of your customers if you can.
  • What is this business to be about? What will you not compromise on? Don’t be safe – pick areas you can really own. This is about uncovering your distinct competitive advantage.
  • Who is your customer? What are the segments groups within your target market? What do you know about them? What do they love/hate? What media do they consume? Is your information recent? Have you actively researched it?
  • What are the channels to market or the paths to the customers?
  • Who are key influencers, gatekeepers, authorities?
  • What’s your story? What’s your background? What inspired this business? Your vision, your ethos? What do you really value in terms of the goods/services you supply?
  • What does success look like? What’s really great? What’s good enough?
  • Who are your competition? Where are their strengths? What are they weak on?
  • Financials: What are your projected revenues and what are they based on? Costs: Distribution costs, costs of acquiring one customer? Are these one off purchases or likely to repeat? What is the lifetime value of a customer?
  • What does failure look like?
  • What improvements could you make? (ie after looking more closely at your market would you change your distinct position?)
  • What things could you take out or add in that would improve your product/service?
  • List the items still to be decided and put some timelines to them
  • Last but not least, breathe. You’re what’s unique behind this idea.  Keep it up!

If you are interested in reading more about advice for start-ups check out my Marketing Over Coffee resource here which has a section for Start-Ups. I mentor business start-ups for Enterprise Ireland. I have key experience in launching digital platforms, consumer goods brands across Confectionery, Chilled Dairy, Chilled Foods, Ice-Cream, Grocery, Soft Drinks.

If you are interested in some clarity about where to start making key marketing decisions, start here.