Everybody dreams of running their own successful business, but sometimes the fear of the unknown stops us from taking the plunge
We're going discuss some of the key focus factors that make a successful start-up in order to help you get onto the right track. Hopefully we'll be able to put some of those fears about starting a new business to bed.
1. Find the gap and plug it
Does your idea or business provide something that is not already out there? Does it fill a gap in the market?
If so, you’re onto a winner. Probably the most important part of any business is its unique selling point, or USP. If you discover an area or niche which no other company is filling then you may well have a strong starting point for your new business venture. Some simple ways to look at opportunities in the market:
- Can I provide a superior quality product or service than is already available?
- Can I provide as good a product or service at a lower price?
- Do I have something totally unique to offer customers?
These should offer you a starting point if you’re struggling for ideas. If you've already got a winning idea, then what's stopping you? Back yourself, take the plunge and you could go all the way.
2. Get your business noticed
A business is only as good as its marketing. If you want your marketing to work you need to know exactly what you’re all about.
Spend time and focus on the key points of your business. Write a business plan and really pin down your brand – What? Why? Who? These are the key questions you need to answer.
Once you have the answers, start advertising wherever possible. Use fliers, newspapers, and attend networking events; aim to speak about your brand to as many people as possible. You never know when making that connection will end up being incredibly beneficial in the short and long term.
3. Internet presence is king
Where is the biggest marketplace in the world? Where do millions of people spend hours browsing every day? Where do your customers expect to be able to find out information about what you do?
The Internet, of course. Your first goal should be to set up a high quality website that puts across the right image of your business.
“What is the right way?” I hear you say. Imagine you’re going to a job interview. You rock up in your freshest suit, greet your interviewer with a robust handshake, and elaborately reply to his questions backed by research and preparation. You know how important first impressions are.
Your website forms the first impression of everyone who finds your business online. If your website is to drive your business, it needs: to look the part; have substantive content; and apply a touch of marketing.
To build a website that actually improves your business takes hours of time and commitment. You could build it yourself, or get it done for free. However, if there's any part of your business you need to get right, it's your website – the exposure it offers your business is unparalleled.
We recommend leaving it to those who know web design best – it will save you time, and could ultimately prove a lot less costly.
4. Don’t fear social media
Picture your website as your central hub, and your social media platforms as spokes on a wheel.
You only need a few key accounts to attract high levels of traffic to your business, via your website. There's no such things as too big a social media presence, however there are some essential platforms; you’ve probably heard of them before – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter would be a great starting point.
Of course, once you have these set up you need to post regularly, and offer concise information, offers, or insights to keep your brand on people's screens.
Another path to take is blogging.
It goes without saying that blogging is a phenomenon that has exploded across the Internet in recent times. The fact that some people have businesses based purely around blogging shows just how popular it has become.
Attaching a blog to your website will keep you higher up on search websites (Google recently changed their rules, pushing blogging websites to further up its rankings), and provides a more personal experience for customers, which is always well received.
5. Don’t be an unrelatable faceless robot
Keeping your customers happy is the key to growing your customer base. If they leave your business satisfied, they will be more than willing to let the next person they speak to know just how good you are.
One way of keeping your business' positive public perception is to engage with your customers. Let them know who you are as an individual, offer them contact details, and talk to them like they’re real people.
If they can put a face to the name and brand, they will be far more receptive to your offering, and far more accepting if you make a mistake or don’t perform as well as you should have. Human beings are more understanding, receptive, and happier when interacting with someone like them.
Of course, running a successful business is far more complex than we can cover here. However, if you focus on these key areas you will be well on your way to building a business that has a unique offering, is easily accessible, and makes your customers smile - you can’t ask for much more than that.