Starting a small business is a big decision. Now you’re a little way down the track, is there anything you would do differently? Were the sacrifices and challenges worth it? What do you wish you had known back when you were starting out that may have helped make the falls a little less spectacular and the wins a lot more frequent?
Let’s imagine for a moment you’re back at the beginning, just starting out on your business journey. You’re full of excitement, optimism and grand ideas. What do you need to successfully launch and run your new business?
It’s never too late to begin implementing a new idea. How many of these top 10 can you tick off in your business right now and how many still need a little work?
1. Know your ‘why’
In his best-selling book ‘Start with Why’ author, speaker and organisational consultant Simon Sinek said “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” In today’s market, it’s not enough to have a great product or service. People buy passion. They want to know what you stand for.
But first, YOU need to know why you do what you do.
Sinek went on to say “There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” Would you rather ‘sell’ to your customers, or inspire them to buy from you?
Make the reason why you’re in business your main focus. Keep it front and centre of everything you do. Your passion will be the fuel that keeps you going when it all seems too hard.
2. Research, research and research some more
It’s one of the biggest mistakes start-ups make. They have what they believe is a brilliant idea. They spend a fortune on manufacturing their product or designing their service They get their branding, sign a lease, invest in stock, staff and advertising. They open their doors and nobody shows up!
Researching is so much easier today with online platforms such as Facebook and Google. You can research the demographics and psychographics of your potential customer base and understand their buying habits – literally down to what they eat for breakfast.
You can also glean valuable information by researching your competitors. Mystery shop them, visit their websites, see what they do well and find out on review sites what makes their customers happy and unhappy.
3. Become a master of marketing and sales (or work with someone who is)
‘Business as usual’ doesn’t cut it today as clever marketers spring up seemingly overnight in a market that moves very quickly. Fortunately some clever marketers are keen to teach you how to become a clever marketer. Learn and apply what you can and keep on top of your social media marketing. It will give you the edge if you can master it. If not, work with someone who can.
4. Don’t try and be everything to everyone
One-stop-shops are slowly being replaced with niche, boutique, hand-crafted, bespoke. That’s not to say you can’t offer a range of products and services, just stick to what you know you can do well. Carving out a niche will make it easier to find your market and easier for them to find you.
Ideally you want to be the only one selling what you’re selling. Nobody wants to compete in an overcrowded market. Find the twist, the oh-my-goodness, the outstanding point of difference that will have people seeking you out. And refer back to point #1.
5. Start small
You don’t need to compete with the big boys from the get-go. Find your niche, build your base, give great service and continue to evolve. If you sit still for too long you’ll be left there... still sitting! Keep your business fresh and appealing. Talk to your customers. Find out what they want and give it to them.
Starting small also allows you the time and space to learn as you go without huge overheads weighing you down. You can certainly aim high and plan to be a monumental success story... and still start small.
6. Don’t go it alone
It’s the era of collaboration, co-creation and strategic alliances. Start-up businesses need to network, share resources, outsource and most importantly ask for help. If you have a solid understanding of your own strengths, skills, resources and available time, you can fill in the gaps by working with others. Once you establish where your business requires help, you can cut down on expenses by outsourcing much of it.
7. Educate yourself and find a good mentor
Author and small business icon for over 50 years, Charlie Tremendous Jones once said “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” You can now add to that the workshops you attend, the webinars you join and the video tutorials you watch.
Dive in to learning and find yourself a good coach or mentor. How do you find one? Look for someone who has been where you want to go, someone who inspires you. They’ll be worth their weight in gold.
8. Keep on top of all aspects of your business
You’ve no doubt heard a story or two about an unsuspecting business owner who didn’t know his accountant was syphoning off funds until it was too late. It’s vitally important to have a solid understanding of the specific metrics associated with your start-up business and keep your finger on every pulse.
Get on board with systems, services and platforms that can save you money. It’s better in your pocket at this delicate start-up phase of your business. In fact, cash is always better in your pocket, no matter what phase of your business!
9. Take care of you
Being a small business owner is one of the toughest jobs around. Many sacrifice holidays, time with family and sadly, even their health. Don’t underestimate this final point. You will work hard for business success, yet nothing is worth it if it tears apart your family, or lands you in hospital, or worse.
10. Grow your business with Bartercard
For more tips and tricks on how to grow your customer reach, download Bartercard’s FREE eBook: 8 Ways to Attract New Customers
From start-up to well established, some ideas just keep getting better
The rules of business have changed and continue to do so. Thinking outside the square has become an essential tool for business owners who want to keep ahead.
Bartercard, the world's largest cashless business networking platform is designed with one goal in mind - to expand your business and your profits.
Bartercard is a simple, flexible system that converts slow moving stock, downtime, spare capacity or vacant seats into extra sales. Using a currency of trade dollars you can trade conveniently with up to 24,000 members worldwide.
It’s a secure, flexible way to manage your business more efficiently while saving your hard-earned cash.