A lot has been said about how to successfully get a business up and running. Yet still, succeeding as a startup is never guaranteed. Despite having the necessary capital and an impressive business plan, not too many entrepreneurs survive once they bring their product to market.

If you are planning to start your own venture, you might ask yourself, “What can I do to avoid failure and ensure profitability?” Well, the logical answer would be to learn from the most successful entrepreneurs today.

The business game has changed, and today starting a business is being done backwards. Here’s how you can do it too.

  1. Start by determining your clientele

Entrepreneurship is a full-time job, which essentially means you wake up every day to serve a specific niche of customers. So the first step in starting a business would be to identify the people you want to trade your life to serve.

Put in another perspective, entrepreneurship is adding value to and enriching the lives of these people you care about while getting paid to do it. So it’s up to you to decide who these people would be. Serving the people you care about the most will ensure you will feel fulfilled and rewarded as you take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

  1. Get ideas from your customers

The reason most startups fail is because they base their business on assumptions of what their customer wants. They think people have a need for their product, without actually understanding their target customers.

Save yourself the guesswork and the potential letdown by reaching out to your customers. Ask them what problems they have that are deep and painful. Chances are you will find a pain point that’s consistently shared among them. If you’re lucky, your customers might even tell you the exact solution to their problems. Often, the ideas you will receive are far better than the ones you can come up with yourself.

By letting them help you shape your business, you will eventually create a better product that your customers are emotionally tied to. You will also be able to set the right expectations and build brand loyalty right from the start.

  1. Test your product in a smaller market

Take your product to market early so you can test its viability and determine how much you should charge for it. Again, talk to your customers first. Ask them how much they would be willing to pay for the product if you were to bring it to market.

There are several ways to do this. For instance, you can start a crowdfunding campaign to get early validation of your product concept while raising capital at the same time. You can also incentivise customers with a special introductory rate.

Remember it is easy for people to say they would pay for your product, but you want them to actually pay for it. If they are willing to put their money where their mouth is, then you have not only locked in a customer base but validated your business as well.

  1. Launch and then scale

Once you have raised enough capital from pre-selling your product, you can start building your business. Since you are not funding the launch out of your own pocket and already have an interested customer base, you are able to reduce your risk significantly.

It’s important to start small and then scale later, rather go big the first time. Aside from investing in marketing, consider joint ventures and affiliate relationships to start growing your business. You shouldn’t have a problem with these areas because you already have a product that works.

It’s not easy to start a profitable business. But if you take the right steps, you can lay a strong foundation for a venture that’s built for success.