Starting your own business can be a daunting task, and even more so if you’re entering a market with strict quality standards and fierce competition. Starting your own laboratory is quite a leap for a young entrepreneur, but not outside your reach. Others have started their labs, and you can do the same with just these six tips and considerations. Take a look at some of the ways of thinking the most successful startups used to get their own businesses going.
Product/Market Fit is the pinnacle of successful startups. Though not your first consideration, it is the ultimate goal of your endeavor. However, what is Product/Market Fit?
The experts aren’t sure on the correct definition of PMF, but, in its essence, PMF is the moment your product becomes the exact fit for your customers. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that your product will be a perfect match for the entire market – instead, it is enough for your product, i.e. your future lab, to appeal to your own niche of customers, your own Minimum Valuable Segment (MVS), as it is named my many experts dealing in market analysis.
In essence, this is what you’ll be building towards. All your efforts will be concentrated onto reaching that point where your customers start to like and depend on your product, so much so that around “40% of users saying they would be “very disappointed” without your product”, as Sean Ellis, entrepreneur and CEO of GrowthHackers puts it.
Now that we’ve got PMF out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about something concrete, namely, your budget. However, here you won’t be thinking strictly about the amount of money you have to spend on the space, personnel and equipment, but about your exit plan as well. Whether you’re planning to sell your lab, retire or are planning for contingencies beyond your control, having a good grip on your current budget, as well as your business’s value, is an absolute must. This will lay groundwork for any future endeavors, expansions, mergers or transfers of ownership that might happen along the way. Having a sound plan will protect your business, your employees, your assets as well as you and your family should the unexpected happen.
One of the major considerations when starting a lab is choosing the right place. But this, we don’t simply mean choosing the space in the right part of town or something simple like that, but more along the lines of choosing the place with the right conditions for your type of business. Considering you’re opening a laboratory, and considering what kind of lab will it be, and what kind of equipment you’ll use, you’ll have to check the place for plumbing, electrical outlets, structural integrity of the building, etc. A good way to go is actually hire a professional architect (if you can afford their services), and have them give you concrete advice on the condition of your future space.
In addition these considerations, you must also account for the needs of your clients and the proximity of your suppliers. In the case of clients, consider what kind of businesses/institutions will use your lab – some need bare-bones no-frill super-functional labs, while others can use labs as sort of pseudo-office spaces, with boardrooms, meeting rooms for customers, etc.
All in all, this can be summarized with four Fs – functionality, flexibility, feel and fit. If these four factors align, you will have certainly found the best possible location for your startup lab.
Okay, now that you’ve got your space, your exit plan, and you’ve got a clear goal in mind, it’s time to acquire the necessary equipment. Luckily, if you’ve got the previous steps down, this will be, perhaps, the easiest step toward building your laboratory. At this point, you need to start looking for suppliers and manufacturers in your price range and specialty, something along the lines of Thermoline, who offer a wide variety of equipment off of their own production line, as well as products from other manufacturers. Such suppliers are widely regarded for their flexibility and wide array of products on offer, and you can always contact and defer to them for advice concerning the best equipment for the job.
Plan as you might, once you’re put into a position where you have to actually get up and start doing something, you might just start feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. And this is natural – planning for every possible contingency is very optimistic, and it’s sometimes better to just start doing something. Build your lab, equip it, get a couple contracts under your belt, and manage on the fly. If you’ve got a good groundwork, if your plans are sound and your company growth well laid out, you’ll have no problem adjusting to your new leadership position. The important thing is not to dwell on decisions too much, and actually make a move. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as expected, you will, no doubt, learn from the experience and know exactly what to do to get your project back on track.
Finally, one of the most important considerations you need to make is lab safety. We are sure you’re already aware of how important this section is, but, let us reiterate just in case how big of a deal this issue can be. In practice, labs tend to cut corners, but the more corners you cut, the more you’re endangering your employees, your customers and clients, and your own business. To that end, it is of utmost importance that you have a detailer handbook explaining lab safety procedures to prevent loss of property and life, as well as invest in a wide range of safety equipment. This includes everything from gloves and goggles, to fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers and emergency exits.
And that’s about all the advice we have for you at this time. These considerations are the foundation of your future business – however, there are always more considerations and strategies to be perused by young and ambitious entrepreneurs, so make sure to expand your knowledge on this topic as much as you can before plunging into the thick of things