Starting your own business is always a difficult prospect. You want to make it the best place to work in the world but that’s easier said than done. You have to build an online reputation and protect yourself from defamation. On top of that, you have to constantly increase the value of your sales to ensure that you can fund expansions and take your company to the next level.
Before I spill the 11 secrets, remember that every idea is not always original. Somebody has though of it before. What makes you stand out is how well you execute the same idea.
Every business sells to two groups of people, either consumers or businesses. Establish who you’re selling to before anything else.
It all seems overwhelming at times but here are some top tips to help you build a successful startup:
1. Create a solid business plan:
Every good company starts with a good plan. Writing a business plan for the first time can be daunting, but it’s really about just writing down what was in your head to start with. It should include both your short-term and long-term ambitions.
The short-term part of your business plan should include details regarding what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. The long-term plan for growing your startup quickly can be more flexible, but you should aim for it to be as accurate as possible.
Nothing beats a plan that you keep locked in your head than a written one. This is a professional approach to your business, regardless of the size. Whether one page or a thousand, write down what you want and need to do to accomplish a successful business entity.
The documents you keep enable you to stay focused on your aims, because we can’t always remember what we initially intended to do with a plan when you keep it as a thought. Also write down any new ideas you may come up with. These will help to improve on your original plans and help your start-up business grow.
A great business isn’t just about the goals, it’s also about the numbers. Calculate every little cost needed to run it, as well as your profit margin. These figures may help you make a strong case even when you need to pitch the idea to a potential ‘angel’ investor. Try to be as realistic as possible about these figures as well. Don’t wallow in fantasies!This will also help you to avoid having a burn rate of finances before your profits are maximized.
Take note that there’s no reason you can’t change the plan later. In fact, chances are you will change your plans going forward. That’s what pivoting is all about, and that’s what can make a successful startup.
2. Research clientele base: Find out what people around you really need/want. Is your business going to be the best solution to that need/want? You have to be relevant. The best businesses are those that have something to bring to the table that nobody has before, and that caters to very basic needs. Be original though.
Don’t just try to sell to anyone. Does your business cater to one organization or client base that needs the service/product, or does it provide for a wide range of consumers and/or businesses? Think about that.
Will your business be disruptive, one that changes the way the existing market works? Hopefully you will create one that does this positively.
3. Develop a profile of your customer base: Who do you want to sell/provide a service to? You have to create an image of the person your start-up is selling to. For example, if you’re going to start providing mobile money services, will you create a cheaper transfer rate because you want the average Joe, who gets less than a dollar a day, to still be able to send the little money that he earns at a minimal rate, so he does not have to feel the pinch of the cost of the transfer?
Then also consider the location that suits your customer base. Where are they found? Move closer! Sometimes, you may not need to even move, depending on what you are selling/service you’re providing. Working from home may save you rental costs.
4. Test the product/service to a small audience: After seeing your competition’s abilities, market the product/service to a test group and see the response you get about it. If it works out well, seek better marketing tactics and market the hell out of your business’s products/services.
The importance of this test is that you will be able to get feedback and work on what’s missing from your business before the cat’s fully out of the bag. This will give you time to work on errors well in advance, before you officially launch, which is the next step.
5. Launch: When you’re done ticking all 4 above, get that product/service out to your client base and get that paper! Use it wisely, grow bigger!
6. Keep innovating and evolving: Just because you’re out there doesn’t mean you stop creating new ways to improve on your idea. Get a team that believes in not settling for less. Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself…
7. Social Media, folks: Stay connected to your clientele. Not only through calls and emails. Even social media platforms. Most of them are more likely to check their social media pages before they get to their emails so get to them first.
8. Begin networking as soon as possible; Professional networking is the way forward. Business is about the connections you have because your network will push your company to the next level. Word-of-mouth marketing has never been stronger. Right now 88% of people trust reviews from online consumers just as they trust recommendations from family and friends. You need to start networking for all the right reasons.
You should also start networking because this can turn you onto a lot of great talent going forward. The big companies tend to have the best talent because that talent never reaches the open market. They are there to headhunt this talent and claim it before anyone else can.
So how do you begin networking?
Start by signing up for a LinkedIn account and joining groups there. You should also try to attend dedicated networking events in-person in your local area.
9. Surround yourself with the right people; Running a business is hard and you need to make sure that you have all the right people around you. Mentors and strategic partners will become crucial during this initial growth phase. The right team can help you to accomplish far more than you can do alone.
If you want to transform your business, you need the right team. Part of that comes down to networking, but it’s also about hiring the right people in the first place.
Build up an environment in which everyone participates so you can form a positive corporate culture. Together, you can achieve a great deal.
10. Stay ahead of everyone else; To be successful, you need to be able to pivot and keep up with the latest trends. There are so many companies that go extinct just because they couldn’t keep up with what was going on in their field. Make sure that you’re studying your competitors and the major trends in your industry.
You don’t have to react to every change, but when you come across the right change you have to embrace it to be successful.
11. Maintain a balance between work and life; The balance between life and work should be roughly equal. It’s difficult as a startup owner to disengage from your business. After all, this is your baby and it is hard to leave it alone for a single second. However, you can and you should.
Maintaining your hobbies and downtime will leave you feeling refreshed for longer and help you avoid burnout. Your business can run without you for a while, whether through auto-pilot or delegation of work.
How to avoid startup failure
Founders that want to succeed have to be able to change with the times, maintain a healthy balance, and surround themselves with the right people. Even with these five strategies in place, there are never any guarantees of success. Startup failure is extremely common, with 90% of startups failing within five years, but by adopting these strategies, you increase your chances of success.
What do you think is the most important thing to consider when launching a startup?