Building a business from the ground up is not for the faint of heart. Many companies fail for a multitude of reasons — inadequate management teams, unsuccessful marketing initiatives, unsustainable growth, or just simply poor planning. The world of business is ruthless, but there are ways to succeed, and persistency is the key.
1. Improve on the Old or Develop Something New
Customers most likely aren’t too interested in a product that’s already been on the market for years. If something’s not broken, don’t fix it—but it can’t hurt to improve upon it! For years television was only in black and white until RCA Laboratories invented the first electronic color TV system in 1953 which resulted in a spike in RCA’s sales, leaving competitors who only offered black and white picture TVs in the dust.
If a business bursts into the market with a newly invented product (especially one that meets the needs of a large group of people), they are immediately at an advantage. If there’s no other company that sells the product there’s no competition to battle over the interests of the consumer—they’ve already won.
2. Determining and Defining the Right Market
Before moving forward with anything after developing a product idea, you need to consider who your consumer base is and how large their market segment will be. There’s no use for building a business around a product that there is no demand or market for, it’ll fail right from the start.
3. Work Out a General Plan
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy but developing somewhat of a plan or attack for taking your business to market. How will you deliver your product? Where and how will your product be sold? Do you want to sell it in retail? Direct market it? What and/or who will you need to make this all happen? You don’t need to write up an entire thesis, but at the very least you should create a rough draft to get your company going.
4. Sell Your Heart Out
The art of making a sale is one thing that every successful business needs to get down pat. Any business quite literally depends on selling their product, but those that excel on the market do it and do it well. What are your current customers attracted to? What works for competitors and how could you do it better? It’s all about honing your sales structure and continuously improving upon your strategy.
5. Understand the Ins and Outs
To be a successful business owner, it’s imperative to understand exactly how your company operates in order to make it more resilient and efficient. More often than not, you’re going to need some guidance. Reaching out and engaging with experts can benefit you greatly during the early stages, but also as the company grows. When you can understand how different aspects of your business works, it will be easier to tweak and adjust things that might hinder efficiency, and subsequently success, in the future.
6. Solidify Your Message
Regardless of what product or service a business is supplying, they still need an outward-facing message for consumers to engage with. It’s not about your vision of the company, it’s about what the company can do for the consumer—that’s where the money is after all, right? While hearing about a business’ story is nice, but it’s not doing anything for the consumer. The ultimate goal is to tell consumers about how your company can service them.
7. Keep on Top of Your Finances
This one seems obvious, but surprisingly it’s the greatest downfall of many companies. Proper financial management can make or break your business, so it’s important to stay on top of where your money is going and how it’s spent.
Marketing is a continuous effort, a costly one but an extremely important one. Constantly monitor your marketing avenues to make sure that the strategies your business is using are still working. If not, find another marketing strategy and reallocate the money to that avenue.
In many small businesses or close-knit companies, the founders tend to get a bit greedy with their newfound influx of income. It’s understandable to want to give yourself a generous salary as a business owner, but it’s irrational in a real-world business context. Your business can’t grow if you take almost all the profit. There will always be a need to retain revenue for things like product/service development, marketing, to aid growth, and of course to pay fellow employees a reasonable salary. Remember a business is nothing without its constituents.
8. Build Strong Alliances
Look for other companies that provide products or services that could be complimentary to your own. These products/services don’t have to be directly related, but enough so that customers of either business could benefit from the other. Take Starbucks and Target, for example. After partnering up in 1999, they’ve since become one of the most well-known examples of a strategic alliance. They know that once customers see the Starbucks counter after they step in the door, that they’ll most likely be thinking of grabbing a drink after checkout—and it’s been working for years!
Building strong strategic alliances not only allows your business to cross market, but it makes doing it a lot cheaper and a lot easier. It’s a win-win for both companies as long as you pick alliances wisely.
9. Continuously Advocate for Your Business
If you want customers to believe in your business, you must believe in it yourself. Deliver exactly what your company offers but push to give more. When or if there’s a faulty product or service experience, fix it promptly and compensate the customer for any trouble. Always speak positively about your business and what it can do for others, sport your company logo, hand out gratis—anything to show your commitment to your company’s message.
10. Never Stop Innovating
A product or service can only stay relevant on the market for so long before another company creates something better. To keep your market share strong, you need to be continuously striving to innovate the things your business provides. If you’re always ahead of the game, it’s easier to stay on top of current trends and to adjust your products/services accordingly. When rival companies release new products, your customers are more likely to stay with you if you can show them something better. Keep innovating, and your business will keep growing.