So you’ve decided to start a business.

Or, perhaps you’re looking to improve a business you already own? No matter you professional situation, we’ve compiled 5 ideas that will ensure your startup flourishes – from start to finish.

1. A responsive audience

There’s nothing more fundamentally useful than a responsive audience for your startup.

Ensure that you have established just who your business idea will impact; who is your target audience? Will they have a real motivation to respond to you, or to be converted into a sale? Why or why not?

There are plenty of resources out there for all categories of businesses. Even if you intend to start a coffee shop sites like kickstartmycoffee.com can help you get started and attract the right audience.

Build excitement by engaging with your audience before you launch your business. That way, you can have a potential customer base already at your disposal before you even start trading!

2. A unique selling point

Hopefully, the reason you’re beginning your startup journey in the first place is because you have a unique selling point. There’s no point opening a startup that mimics an idea that has already been sold and resold again.

As well as this, how are you going to sell this idea? What is your unique angle? Do you want to follow the rules, or do you want to break them? Are you wanting to create a community, or simply sell a product or service?

It’s also important to remember that, although being unique is important, try to refrain from being different just for the sake of being different. What separates you from your competition must be something that is noticeably beneficial to your audience.

3. Realistically planned goals

A vital element in any successful business’ startup, you need to create a clear (and realistic) business plan, with everything from your budget, to a timeline, to a mission statement, to goals. Not only will this help you and the other people involved in your start up, but this is a surefire sign to potential investors and other organisations that you are legitimate.

However, it is also a good idea to note in advance that your plans and goals may evolve as your business idea plays itself out. Plan well, but also plan to adapt.

4. Scalability and potential for automation

This point is regarding digital businesses specifically.

These days, however, most businesses have a digital element. If you evaluate your business idea for automation potential from the very start, you can ensure that on the other side of all initial hard work is a happy-fun-land filled with success.

As well as this, be sure your business doesn’t depend on your time and money to grow in the long run, or else it’s growth will be very limited. You must have a plan to scale your business up in a cost and time effective manner.

5. Personal excitement

The last idea that can set your business apart is personal excitement.

It’s important that your articular business or operation gets your heart racing. If you pursue your passion, this will be obvious to all those that come into contact with your business.

Your idea should absolutely excite you; you should be able to see yourself throwing 110% into the operation and then some. If you’re not passionate about your idea, if you don’t see how you can change something, then you should probably go back to the drawing board.

If your business idea includes all five of these ingredients, it may be time  to embark on the business of your dreams. Chances are you’ll create something that there is a true demand for, and you’ll enjoy the process along the way – and that’s what starting a business really is all about.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.