You’d be surprised how many new business owners make simple mistakes when they’re trying to get their startup off the ground. Launching your own venture can be a stressful time—and while many still fail, you still need to make sure you’ve got the basics sorted to give you the best chance of success.
A great idea is all very well and good, but you’ve got to drill down on every aspect of your business to give it the best chance of success. In this article, we’re going to look at a few tips to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Some of these might seem simple to you, but many business owners neglect them. Let’s have a look…
1. Make sure your website is ready to go
Even if you’re not starting an online venture, your website still needs to be in a good state. While you might have been able to get away without a web presence a few years ago, you can’t anymore. It’s often the first thing people will check when they hear about your business. You can take advantage of services that can take your PSD file and convert it into an awesome fully functional responsive WordPress website. It’ll say a lot about you and your business if you either don’t have one or have a poor quality one.
Simply having a website isn’t necessarily enough; it needs to be a good one. While you don’t have to spend thousands on a high-end bespoke page, you need to make sure your site is good quality. Make sure you’ve tested it for bugs and that the copy is well written.
As well as having a good quality website, you also want to make sure you’re promoting it properly. That means having the right SEO, targeting the right keywords and driving enough quality traffic to your site. If this isn’t something you can do yourself, you might want to consider a local SEO firm to get you up and going. However, if you’re trying to start your business on a tight budget, this is still something you can do without spending much money if you’ve got the time and inclination.
2. Make sure you’ve got your social media sorted
Far too many business owners are still ignoring the power of social media. While it might not be your thing, it could be hugely beneficial to the success of your startup. Social media is a hugely powerful marketing tool that gives you a direct marketing channel with both existing and potential customers. The sort of reach and communication benefits that platforms like Facebook and Twitter have created for small businesses were previously unheard of.
If social media isn’t your thing, you might have a member of staff you can “promote” to the social media manager. Simply make sure you’re active on all the big platforms and that you’re always trying to promote your business effectively. Make sure your customers know about your social media profiles and offer incentives for following you.
Offer contests and special deals to your followers and they should reward you. Every time one of your existing followers likes something you post, they’re expressing loyalty with your brand and spreading the word with their own friend’s network. An effective and active social media account can help grow your potential customer base as your followers do the marketing legwork for you.
Make sure you deal with any complaints quickly and effectively, as this can say a lot about your business, too. Try and create informative and entertaining content that people will enjoy sharing in the hope some of your posts go “viral.” Offer special discounts to your online followers and you could see your business grow.
3. Make sure you promote your business relentlessly in the local area
Far too many small businesses simply set up shop and expect people to know about them. People won’t come into your business if you don’t go and get them. The first thing you should do when you open your doors is promoting relentlessly, not just online, in the local area. Print flyers and hand them door-to-door. Give them out in busy thoroughfares. Poster any wall you’re allowed to.
If you’ve got a shop, stand outside of it for the first few days and actively engage with customers. Signpost clearly and effectively. Make sure everyone in your area knows about you, including other local businesses.
Another great tip is to attend local network events and other business events. Make sure you’ve got lots of business cards and be a champion for your business. You can even start to sponsor charity events or have a presence at other relevant functions.
4. Make sure your staff are fully trained
You might think you can simply start operating and your staff will learn as they go. While this is possible to some extent, you need to make sure they’re at a good enough level to start trading. Many of the people who come into your business at the start won’t return if they see a lot of unprofessionalism or mistakes from your staff. Have a few rehearsals and mock days to get your staff to the right level.
5. Make sure your accounts are in order
If you start a business without a good accounting package (or a good accountant in place) you might be making a big mistake.
6. Make sure you’ve got a business plan, and stick to it.
Loads of small businesses simply start up without a business plan—and they could be setting themselves up for failure. Other businesses have a plan but as soon as they start trading they forget about it or ignore it. Make sure you’ve got a clear and concise plan and stick to it relentlessly. You should always know what your goals are and how they relate to your plan. If you have to, make reminders and stick them on the walls or around your office. Refer back to your plan every couple of days. Memorize your plan, and work towards it every day.
7. Chat with other business experts
You don’t have to go it alone when starting your business. There may be other relevant business people in your area who can help. Try attending local networking events, not just to market your business but also meet people who can help. While your main competitors might not want to help you, there are many other businesspeople who could be willing to give a new business-owner like you some help, either for free or a fee. Some of their experience and advice could be very useful to you in the early days of your business.