10 Surefire Startup Secrets to Grow Your Business
You have it. It’s the next great idea, and it’s going to change lives.
Problem is, you have no experience starting or running a small business, and people won’t stop throwing the statistics at you. The truth is, starting a small business is no small undertaking, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to succeed.
Startup Secrets to Avoid Slow, Painful Business Death
The cause of death for most small businesses is simple: They run out of money, and no business can run without money. But no business dies in a day. Small businesses don’t suddenly begin hemorrhaging money for no reason. If we look, it’s evident that the eventual failure begins long before the doors are closed.
So how can you make sure that you are different? How do you ensure that your startup is successful and profitable? It isn’t easy, but with a few startup secrets, it can be done.
Do Your Research
Yes, this seems obvious, but its vitality cannot be overstated. If you aren’t already, you must become an expert in the field you are trying to break into. After all, you want to sound like you know what you are talking about to investors and customers.
This applies to everything from potential investors to financing options to possible competitors, but those are just the surface of the informational iceberg.
Even things like the name of your company must be thoroughly researched. Even if you are completely in love with the name you’ve picked out, if it’s too close to someone else’s business name you may run into trouble. You can check out your business name using our free NUANS Preliminary Search.
When you are an expert in your field, or at least well on your way to being one, you are another step closer to a business model that defies the odds.
Know Your Target Customer
This startup secret goes hand in hand with doing your research. You may have a product you are passionate about, but do you know who is going to buy it?
Use part of your research time to define the key characteristics of exactly who you are creating your product for. Be as specific as possible. Consider:
- Shopping method (Online vs Brick-and-Mortar)
- Social factors and needs
No product is truly for everyone, and identifying your customer base will help you determine everything from product packaging to storefront interior to marketing campaigns.
Take the time to pay a visit to similar businesses and take a look at their clientele and how the business caters to them.
While imitation is not necessarily the sincerest form of flattery in the world of small business, you can use what you see as a springboard for your own business model.
Remember all the research you did in step one? Don’t stop. Ever. No matter what industry you are in, chances are that it is constantly changing and evolving, and to avoid business demise, you must grow and evolve with it.
Never fall into the trap of thinking you know everything there is to know about your industry. Attend conferences, take classes, and be willing to identify your own weaknesses so that you can work to remedy them.
This constant learning may seem time-consuming and at times tedious, but it will keep you ahead of your competition and help you to innovate and continue to meet the needs of your customer base.
Be Careful with Discounts
This seems counter-productive, no? Lure customers in with your killer Buy 1, Get 8 free deal, and hope they’ll stay for the long haul?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work as planned, for a few reasons. First, it cuts into your capital, which, as a small business owner, there is almost never enough of, especially not at first.
Second, this kind of behaviour early on sets a precedent and affects how your customer not only views your product, but how they value it.
Customers should value your product enough to want to buy it full price. Discounts shouldn’t be a driving force behind your client base. If that becomes the case, when the discounts dry up, so will the profits.
Instead, take the time to cultivate a loyal audience and customer base through networking, interaction, and a quality product. Then you can think about offering discounts.
Utilize Social Media
Even if you don’t consider yourself very “good” at social media, it is an essential element of your marketing strategy (or should be), and it is, by and large, free.
Social media gives you the opportunity to meet your customers where they are, to receive their feedback instantly, and to market yourself constantly.
Rubbing shoulders with others in your industry is a sure way to continue your education about where your industry is going, as well as make useful connections that will help you keep your business afloat.
Seminars and conferences are great places to network, not just to find peers in your industry, but potential mentors and even investors. Take the time to invest in opportunities like these, as often as you can.
Networking opportunities often double as educational opportunities as well, allowing you to maximize your time and energy in your company’s interest.
Have a Solid Financial Plan
“Open business…make loads of money” may sound like a master plan, but you won’t find many banks ready to finance you without a few more details.
A business plan is going to include all the tiny details, from product details to marketing budgets to financial projections. It’s important to be realistic here. A business cannot thrive on home-run sale days alone. You must plan for a steady pattern of growth over a long period of time, and provide the details in your plan.
Consider the cost of production, marketing, and rent vs projected revenue. Calculate month-by-month revenue projections and identify variables that will affect these numbers.
The more detailed and thorough your financial plan is, the more solid your business plan will be to potential investors, and the fewer surprises you will have in your bank account as your business gets going.
Manage your expectations
In your head, the launching of a new business plays like a montage out of a movie, complete with sunshine and folk-rock in the background.
The reality is not quite so glamorous, and understanding this as a matter of course is vital for the overall health and wellbeing of not just your business, but yourself and your family.
It is important that you have some idea of what to expect as you launch and run your business, but also how it may bleed over into your personal life. Be prepared for the early days to be full of business and busyness. There may be days when you are sure that it shouldn’t be this hard, but it is.
Few startup secrets are as vital as this one. Broken or unmet expectations will sink new businesses.
Know Your Brand
Just like people, businesses have personalities. The beauty here is that your brand can often be crafted from things you already know: the general personality of your target customer base, and the personality of you, the creator.
Take the time to write down what sort of feel you want your brand to have, what kind of emotions you want your brand to invoke. This is going to help you decide the bits of your business that the public sees.
While this might initially seem stifling in terms of creativity, knowing and sticking to your brand helps to streamline the marketing process, ensuring that you reach your intended audience in the most effective way possible.
Don’t Hide Your Passion
Never allow yourself to be embarrassed by your passion for your project. If you are going to spend the time and money to grow this business, you should be enthusiastic about it.
Your love of the company is going to bleed over into every part of the business, from the way you hire and take care of employees, to the way you treat customers, to the quality of your product. Company culture is a direct result of the passion and attitude of the business owner.
Your passion will drive your company’s success, but it will also give you the stamina you need to stick out the hardest times in the initial days of your business.
Starting a new business is hardly an endeavour for the faint-of-heart. It’s a grueling, complicated process, but the rewards in store at the end of the road are innumerable.
Along with passion and perseverance, these startup secrets to success are your tools to ensure that you have the best possible chance to turn your small business idea into a thriving and profitable enterprise.
If you’re ready to start your new business, try out our Free NUANS Preliminary Search to see if your business name ideas are available for registration in Canada.