As many entrepreneurs know, starting a business is always a true roller coaster ride. First, it presents opportunities to grow and test creativity with the market. At the same time, the chance of failure is very much a reality, and it takes a certain individual to stick with a business until it develops successfully.
In this article, we will give you pointers to make the adventure of having a business less unstable and more worthwhile. These pointers will help you navigate the start-up phase of a business.
- Start Very Early to Build a Community Around a Mission and Vision.
You may notice that the best brands usually have people that continue to buy from for years and years. A business is not simply the products it offers, but a mission and vision that people believe in. Decide this quickly in the beginning, even though you may evolve such a vision as you move forward.
It is important here to also provide value to a community as quickly as you can. The business should try to understand what the community around your mission and vision want to accomplish, the goals they have, and what truly inspires them. To do so, interact with them, talk to them, send out surveys, continue to network and collect information. This is your base for market research.
After building a product that sells is much easier as you understand exactly what people need.
- Receive Training that is Applicable
An individual is not an island, and a business shouldn’t be stranded on one either. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of working alone. Now, this does not mean that you need an actual business partner. However, in order to truly improve and escape from the inside of your head, it is important that you have someone or something that can mentor you.
Obviously, a mentor is a very good choice for this. However, mentors can be very expensive. This is where business courses come in, especially online ones. Depending on the nature of your company, you may find affordable courses for business training or corporate training.
It is also important that the training matches your circumstances. Most of you are trying to start businesses in this country, and thus are bound by regulations. In this case, business courses in Australia are available on online learning institutes like the MCI Institute.
This sort of training will help give you access to a community of experts who can help guide you. Also, as the courses are very customized, they are targeted toward your start-up situation. You can receive feedback on what you are doing very quickly so that you do not walk down unprofitable paths for too long.
- Ongoing and Continuous Market Research
Another common weak area of many entrepreneurs is that they tend to focus more on product development and their vision without an adequate amount of market research. It is important that market research informs the product development, which is why Pointer #1 is crucial.
What is market research? Simply put, it includes approaches and tools to understand your potential clients and community. You are trying to understand their needs, their desires, what they envision their lifestyle and goals to be and more. Such information helps you decide how to develop your product so that you are actually meeting a need.
A product may seem like a great idea to one person, but if you are not meeting the needs of many, it is very hard. Many entrepreneurs end up developing full products, and at the end of the day, they are not able to sell it.
Market research does not just include researching your potential clients but also competitors as well. Understanding where you are in a market place is important so that you can differentiate yourself or offer better products. An effective way to decide what type of product to offer for example, is finding a niche in the market and then developing a product that meets a very specific need.
However, in order to find this niche, getting out there and talking to potential clients and seeing what other competitors offer is invaluable.
- Make Constant Adjustments
This pointer seems too obvious. However, let us frame it in a different way.
Many entrepreneurs are afraid of making mistakes. However, instead of viewing mistakes as some sort of failure, it is important that mistakes are something you use to make adjustments. That is, it is important to learn to make and accept mistakes and how to adapt because nothing will ever be perfect. This is especially true because the needs and desires of your market will constantly change due to factors that you cannot control.
Thus, use your mistakes to make constant adjustments. A mistake in one context may also not be in another, so viewing the concept of correct and wrong in a black and white fashion is not desirable anyway.
Here is a more concrete example. Suppose you launch a product in the beginning and the numbers seem dismal. This may be construed as a failure, but it gives you an opportunity to test a few factors. For example, can you tweak your marketing and get better numbers the next week or month? Could you improve your product so that the reviews become better? Can you add an extra service to your product or limit your product to a certain population to make it more exclusive?
After you make your adjustment, again take time to re-evaluate and see what else you can do. In this way, mistakes become key performance indicators that you have to try to improve by changing different aspects of your product and business.
- Know your own abilities and what you can accomplish
This pointer is crucial as people usually underestimate the work it takes to start a business. Knowing your own abilities and temperament will help you. Some questions you can consider for example:
- How productive can you be in a day?
- How is your energy levels at certain times of the day?
- Do you spend a lot of time daydreaming and coming up with too many ideas?
- What skill areas are you weaker at and stronger at?
- What ways exist for you to address any issues that you identify from the same questions?
Knowing yourself is crucial; everyone has strengths and everyone has limits. Moreover, we all have a limited amount of time.
After, you can address some of these issues. For example, you may find that you are not as productive as you thought or that you lack certain skills that are key to your business development. Here, education may help, including business training and business courses.
- Set up Clear Processes
Our last pointer is to set up clear processes. In small start-ups, processes and procedures are not yet clearly defined and making sure these get defined as soon as possible will help alleviate many other problems down the road.
For example, many entrepreneurs who begin a business find themselves working on too many fronts at the same time. There seem to be so many things to do, and nothing seems systematic. First, identify the two or three most valuable goals you can do to make revenue as soon as possible. After, set up a plan and process to work toward these goals.
For example, you might find that writing a great sales page is valuable. That is the overall goal. After, break down this goal into extremely small manageable pieces:
- Gather some qualitative data about how people talk about their needs
- Use the above data to draft a sales page
- Get feedback on the sales pages
- Write a new draft
- Get feedback from a different person
- Incorporate the new feedback to finalize
- Add images and videos
And even some of the steps above can be broken down further. With such a breakdown, you will be able to operate more efficiently and track progress more quickly.
These 7 key pointers will help you have a plan when you start a business. Sometimes, it is easy to feel like you are flailing around just trying things in a non-systematic manner. When you have this experience, just come back to the list and try to apply one of the pointers.
For example, you might be finding that you are not achieving as much as you want and you may have a sense that it may be your ability to concentrate over long periods. Implement Pointer 6 and see if there is anything you can improve. Or perhaps you are finding out that the goals that you have are unclear. Implement Pointer 7. What is important is that you keep believing in yourself and sticking to it, making adjustments as your business grows. Such grit, as well as flexibility, will ensure that you will serve your customers and clients in a way that grows your business’ revenue.