Getting operations off the ground may seem like a thrilling endeavor and initially, it tends to be. Alas, enthusiasm quickly fades away after a clash with external conditions and challenges. That is when most entrepreneurs start struggling to translate their bright ideas into reality.
They are not prepared to wear so many hats and handle everything from strategic planning to invoice. Well, instead of giving up, they ought to remember one thing: a business owner can always rely on the power of smart planning and organization.
So, forget about overnight success stories. Show perseverance and move forward with confidence, one step at a time.
Develop your idea
It all starts with the inception of an idea, but it must not end there. Make an effort to validate it in the light of hard evidence: facts and figures. In other words, conduct research and find the unaddressed need in the market. You can also ask potential customers about what they would like to see.
Interviews and focus groups are the two most common methods for doing this. While at it, you can also consult industry experts and heed their advice. Upon obtaining the insights, proceed to sketch the product. Ideally, it solves a practical problem and provides convenience for people. It echoes your killer value proposition, which acts as a customer magnet.
Establish tangible goals
Finding a sweet spot in the market goes a long way, but it is only one of the steps on a long journey. Thus, before you start monetizing your offerings, know that there is a lot more ground to cover. First off, you need a strong sense of direction and purpose. To be more precise, set S.M.A.R.T goals for business growth and expansion.
Try not to bite off more than you can chew: it’s fine to make baby steps before leaps and bounds. Many business champions of today have advanced by small incremental gains and taken an active management role in overseeing goals. Like it or not, building a startup must start from the ground up, with solid foundations.
Raise sufficient capital
Speaking of which, funding is another pillar of a successful startup. In a nutshell, you need to set aside enough money to fuel your day-to-day operations, as well as cover marketing, payroll, equipment, supplies, and other major expenditures. So, calculate the exact amount of funding you are going to require.
These days, most founders either go for self-funding or external sources. In the latter case, you want to consider both conventional options and innovative funding strategies. We are talking about everything from small business loans and angel investors to crowdfunding and business incubators/accelerators. Weigh their pros and cons before taking the plunge.
Create an online presence
A strong online presence can give you a nice edge over your competition. Even more importantly, it allows you to get in front of your customers and delight them on a regular basis. Therefore, you need to set up a website, claim business listings and social media profiles. They are all integral parts of your digital strategy.
To start generating some real traffic, optimize your online real estate for mobile devices. Moreover, engage in search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your ranking and visibility. For good measure, identify key performance indicators you will track. I would focus on boosting conversion rates and minimizing bounce rates.
Invest in your workplace
Next, put together an organized workspace that promotes peak productivity. To make magic happen, you need to support varied work styles and habits. For example, provide tailored workstations with ergonomic furniture. Have adequate (natural and artificial) lighting to reduce eyestrain and improve concentration.
Another key ingredient comes in the form of storage space, which is essential for keeping clutter and distractions at bay. Check out industrial shelving— it is one of those highly-versatile solutions that fit any space layout and size. Beyond that, you should digitize your office to decrease physical storage requirements and avoid getting lost in piles of paperwork.
Build a strong team
I know it’s tempting, but don’t even try to do everything yourself. In fact, do yourself a favor and figure out where your skills and competencies are lacking. Then, work out a sound hiring policy to attract talent. Make sure the candidates fit your culture and relate to your mission. Set clear expectations and define the roles and responsibilities.
Furthermore, delegate tasks whenever possible and outsource some work in order to cut the overheads. That is the way to secure the best and most affordable talent available worldwide. Finally, nurture a positive workplace culture: Lead by example instead of micromanaging and stressing people out.
Marketing holds the key to spurring sustainable startup growth. To harness its power, create a marketing budget and strategy. To strike a chord, you need to target buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. What is more, it’s necessary to select the most optimal channels for reaching them out.
Namely, discover where your customers spend time, be it a local bookstore or Facebook. Look beyond sales pitches and add real value. You probably cannot go wrong with digital staples like email and social media, which are associated with incredible ROI. That being said, don’t overlook traditional marketing either. Adopt an integrative approach rather than blindly following fads.
Most startups fail within the first two years and a bulk of them due to poor planning and a lack of funding. Draw valuable lessons from this worrisome trend.
First of all, avoid getting pulled in hundreds of different directions. Get your priorities and goals straight. Embrace a planned and measured approach to running a business. Do your homework and offer something consumers actually want— try to fill the void in wants and needs.
Note that in order to make money, you have to spend money. So, don’t skimp on workspace, employees and marketing. Aim to foster meaningful relationships with customers and earn their loyalty. Play the game for the long-term, not as quick cash-grab. It’ time to make waves!