It all starts with an idea. In fact, many successful businesses started out as just a simple dream and flourished with time, hard work and strategy. If you have an idea you think would make a great business, you may be wondering how you can bring it to life — especially in a competitive market. Calling the shots and having a flexible schedule make having your own business worth the effort.
1. Do Your Research
Before you quit your job and start your new endeavor, conduct some research to gauge the opportunity for your new business. If the market is oversaturated, you may want to rethink your approach.
No matter the size of your potential business, market research can give you valuable insight on consumer behavior and economic trends. This information can help you improve and shape your business model — and help reduce business risk. There are several ways you can do market research, including using existing sources or conducting surveys, questionnaires, focus groups or in-depth interviews on your own. Don’t skip this step; it’s a key factor for small business success.
2. Pay Attention to Industry Growth and Trends
What are you seeing in the marketplace? Does your idea build on what’s already in the marketplace? How is your industry predicted to grow? What makes a small business successful in your chosen industry? Don’t be afraid to look carefully at your competitors and learn from them. Ask yourself what key factors made their business a success and then explore what improvements you can make for your own business idea.
3. Find Your Niche
Many small businesses try to broaden their customer base by being as versatile as possible. A deck and patio expert might expand to fences, but then slowly realize the new venture is taking time away from the work she does best. Maybe she’s even received a few so-so online reviews related to fencing, and it’s dragging down her overall rating.
In order to create a successful business, carve out a niche and focus on it. You’ll gain more business doing the things you excel at and be able to provide customers with your best work.
In a competitive marketplace, your niche is a key small business success factor that can be the difference maker. Why should someone choose your product over a similar product? Is it cost? Customer service? Quality? To win over consumers, you’ll have to demonstrate the real value your business offers that they can’t get somewhere else.
4. Use Technology to Streamline Communication
Before businesses entered the digital age, keeping a paper trail was a must. Today, savvy small business owners use apps and software to organize their small businesses digitally. Some are skipping email in favor of newer communication and collaboration tools, like Slack and Asana. Take a close look at all of your systems — from email to invoicing — and make sure you’re operating with all of the efficiency that modern technology offers.
5. Capitalize on Word of Mouth and Organic Growth
You don’t need to shell out big bucks for a TV ad in order to gain traction locally. The best advertising comes directly from the people you work with every day. Word of mouth recommendations are often the most credible, and happy customers will likely tell their friends about you.
If you are going to spend money on marketing efforts, put your dollars toward website development — and make sure your site can be viewed on a mobile device. If you want to try your hand at web design, you can build an effective website yourself with tools like Weebly, Squarespace or Wix.
When it comes to building up your customer base online, turn to cost-effective tools like email and social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are popular and inexpensive ways for small businesses to reach potential customers. Another idea? Set up simple email campaigns with tools like Constant Contact or MailChimp. These platforms are designed to be easy to use — no marketing or coding expertise required.
6. Spend Your Time Cultivating “Raving Fans”
Don’t chase the customer who won’t be satisfied with your efforts. Instead, focus on your biggest fans — those who have positive things to say about your business and spread the word among their friends. Consider customer appreciation events for your best clients and sharing exclusive deals and incentives with your social media followers. Spend your time and energy engaging the people who will help your business be successful.
7. Commit to Putting in the Work
Starting a new business is no easy task — it requires a lot of hard work, time and money. Ask yourself if you’ll be fully committed to building and financing your business and what your overall goals are. When you first start out, you may be the only employee until you bring in enough income to hire help.
Protecting Your Small Business
You’re working hard to invest in your new company; be sure your business coverage is keeping up. The last thing you want to worry about is not having the right coverage in place to protect your investment. A local Farm Bureau agent can sit down with you, get to know you and discuss your business insurance options. Contact an agent today to capitalize on these small business success factors.