Expect blood, sweat and tears in the early years of starting your own business. You will give it everything you’ve got – and then some more besides. Here are a few tips from seasoned experts on getting things off the ground.
Understand your market and find the gaps
Surviving is about more than a great idea. You will need to invest time and resources in market research to understand what products and services will work for your location. This isn’t as complicated as you might think; surveys (either in person or online) or focus groups are a simple way to get a feel for your target audience. What you are looking for is a necessity; if you can’t find a market need for your idea then it simply won’t work.
Don’t give up
The difference between a failing and successful small business is often the tenacity of the owner. A start-up is never easy, particularly if you have never been in the industry before, so you will need to be committed to late nights, plan changes, quick thinking and making the most of all of the resources available to you.
Understand your vision
What makes you different from every other business with a similar proposition? Without a unique selling point companies with an established reputation or service will edge you out of the market. Your market research should give you a good insight into building your offer; what did people tell you they were missing? How would they like to hear about new products or services? What would make them switch from their existing consumption patterns? Plan a way to stand out, like using custom banners for example.
Work with the right people
The staff and advisors you have around you will be key to your success. Bring on people you trust, but only if you think they can add value to your business plan. It’s fatal to surround yourself with people that won’t challenge you on what you’re doing – you will sometimes need a reality check if you’re going to survive.
Good social media pages can do a lot to bring attention to your business and build a customer base. You will need to use a combination of paid-for advertising, fun content, incentives and responsive customer service to get people coming back to your pages but this commitment to customers, together with a splash of personality, will pay off. Remember this isn’t a one-way process so regularly check your reviews and visitor posts for constructive feedback on what you could be doing better.
The most important thing, beyond everything else, is to stay focused. Remind yourself daily why you’re doing this, what you’ve already achieved and the plan you have for your next big step. You will be the key to making your small business work. Now get out there and do it!