As an entrepreneur who has just started a new business, you may be equal parts excited, enthusiastic, hopeful, and abject terror. You know you have a great product or service to sell. You know that people will be better off when they buy it. But how do you connect with these people? In other words, how do you find customers and how do they find you so that you can grow your business and take it from start-up to major success?
Here are 10 strategies to make your new business successful.
1️⃣ Be a Great Leader
This is your business, so the more planning you put into it before actually launching it the better. All great businesses start with a great business plan. This is your fundamental document that sets forth your core business values, activities, objectives, and how you plan to achieve your business goals. It also sets the tone for what will become your corporate culture.
At a minimum, your business plan should include the following:
Executive summary: an outline of your business, including its mission statement, leadership, operations, and location
Product and/or service: an outline of the product and/or service your business will sell, plus its pricing, lifetime, and customer benefits
Market analysis: an outline of your target market, how your product/service fits into this market, its strengths and potential weaknesses, its expected consumer demand, its competition (both locally and nationally), and how easy or difficult it likely will be to take market share away from your competition
Market strategy: an outline of how you intend to attract and keep customers, such as advertising, online presence, social media presence, promotions, marketing campaigns, etc.
Financial planning: an outline of your financial targets, financial projections for the first five years, current and projected financial needs, and how you intend to go about attracting investors
Budget: an outline of your anticipated costs for such things as a brick-and-mortar office and/or manufacturing location, staffing, research and development, manufacturing tools and equipment, marketing, etc.
However, keep in mind that as good as it is, your business plan is not meant to remain static. You’ll want to review it at least annually and possibly semiannually at first to make sure it’s still applicable. If not, update it as and when appropriate.
2️⃣ Surround Yourself With Great People
Even though this is your business, you can’t be everywhere and do everything. You need two types of people working with you: those who help you RUN the business and those who help you DO the business.
The first category includes such people as:
- Lawyer/outside general counsel
- Website designer/developer
- Website copywriter/blog post writer
- Social media designer/developer
- Graphic artist
Most if not all of these people can be independent contractors rather than actual employees. You’ll save money and reduce your overall costs by contracting with outside experts rather than hiring experts to whom you must offer employee benefits as well as providing them with their needed tools and equipment and a place in which to work.
In terms of the second category, i.e., actual employees, these could include such people as:
- Manufacturing line workers
- Office manager
- Retail sales associates
- Customer support personnel
Whether working with independent contractors or employees, make sure that both you and they have a clear understanding of their functions and duties. Then trust that they know what they’re doing and don’t micromanage them. The ability to effectively delegate is a hallmark of all great leaders. In addition, effective delegation allows you to “do only that which only you can do.”
3️⃣ Have a Great Website
Statistics show that 88% of today’s consumers research potential purchases online before actually buying anything. Consequently, you need a great website that converts looky-loos into customers.
At the very least, your website should contain the following:
- Your business name and logo
- A summary of what your business does
- Your contact information
- Your physical address, enhanced with a Google Maps link
- Your mission statement
- Customer testimonials as they come in
A blog wherein you, or more likely your content writer, discusses subjects relevant to your business to establish your expertise in the field and why customers should choose you
Make sure that your website designer/developer knows that your site must be mobile-friendly.
The vast majority of people today use their smartphones to surf the web. You would also do well to allow your customers to pay for your product/service online through PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and other services.
Also, don’t forget to include reviews on your site. You may also wish to consider using a business review site. Studies show that over 93% of today’s consumers take online reviews into account when deciding which purchases to make.
The top three business review sites are Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. While you run the risk of receiving an occasional negative review, close monitoring of these sites can quickly mitigate any damage such a review may cause.
4️⃣ Effectively Use Social Media
One of the quickest and most effective ways to build positive word-of-mouth for your business is to effectively use social media.
- Facebook Messenger
By establishing a positive presence on these and other outlets such as Twitter, you ensure that people will be talking about you and your business.
5️⃣ Provide Great Customer Service
You may have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t provide your customers with excellent customer support, they won’t become repeat customers. Research shows that 51% of customers say they won’t do repeat business with a company from which they received poor customer service. Others don’t even wait that long. A negative customer service experience can make them jump ship in favor of one of your competitors.
6️⃣ Expand Your Marketing
Not all marketing needs to break the bank. Consider doing one or more of the following:
- Create a promotion kit.
- Include a promotion with your invoices.
- Include short video workshops about your product/service on your website or YouTube.
- Advertise using a vehicle wrap on your car, truck, or van.
- Involve your local newspapers whenever your business has a grand opening, sponsors a charity event, etc.
- Network with others – even your competitors – by joining professional organizations.
Speaking of sponsoring a charity event, don’t forget that giving back to your community is one of the best ways to garner goodwill for your business. It’s also an excellent way to get your business’s name “out there” in an enormously positive manner.
7️⃣ Analyze Your Competition
Don’t hesitate to research and learn from your competitors. What are they doing to increase sales? Can you implement some of these ideas in your own business?
8️⃣ Stay Focused
Never lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. It’s easy to get distracted from your core product(s) or service(s) by all the other things inherent in running and growing a business. Try your best to stay focused on providing the best possible product/service. After all, if you neglect that, you likely won’t have a business for long.
9️⃣ Keep Track of Everything
Keep written records of what works, what doesn’t, and the cost of any business decision you make. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, thanks in no small part to your smartphone and the various apps available for it. If nothing else, send yourself or your office manager a quick text message regarding any new idea that occurs to you and any business expense you pay.
These down-and-dirty facts and figures can ultimately become your policies and procedures manuals that effectively train or retrain your employees. They can also serve as a possible new expense category on your profit and loss statement. In any event, they can help you see how your gross revenues transform into net income or net profit.
🔟 Stay Balanced and Have Fun
You hear a lot nowadays about finding a viable work-life balance. Don’t ignore or downplay the value of this. Whether you’re a Jack or a Jill, all work and no play does make you a dull person – not to mention an unhealthy one.
You need sufficient time away from work for the following:
- Family time
- Social time
- Exercise time
- Sleep time
Quiet “me” time to meditate, contemplate, review, reflect, think or simply vegetate
After all, you didn’t get married to be an absentee spouse. Nor did you have children to be absentee parents. Bottom line, you didn’t start your business to “kill yourself” working 24/7. If you’re constantly stressed and not having fun and enjoying your life, what’s the point?
Stress is a killer – literally and figuratively. You may have no affinity whatsoever for roses or a desire to stop and smell them, but you do need to take care of yourself and make sure you stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. It’s the only way to maintain your enthusiasm, especially when you encounter a setback that all businesses experience now and then.
Owning, operating, and growing your own business is a quintessential American dream. It speaks like nothing else to the American belief in individualism, entrepreneurship, creativity, and excellence. By implementing the above strategies, you stand a very good chance of achieving that dream.