Starting a new business can be an exciting time, but when there is so much to think about it can be easy to get bogged down with it all and struggle to get going. Whilst passion and enthusiasm will get you through the early days, having a plan in place and ensuring the basics have been covered will make your business a successful one for years to come.
Identifying your unique selling point is a vital first step
Your USP underpins everything you do within your business – from marketing to the actual service or products you provide. Your customers want to know why you’re different from your competitors and more specifically, why they should want to buy from you.
It’s unlikely that there aren’t other businesses offering the same as you – so what makes you different? One of the best ways to find the answer is thinking about your personal experiences and journey that led you to this point. Why did you decide to start your own business? What makes you passionate about what you do? Can a previous job or career give you the edge over your competitors?
If you’re still not sure then the next new business consideration might give you some clues.
Know your target audience
Your target audience is the group of people who would be interested in your products or services. When asked about target market, a lot of business owners will say ‘anyone who…’ Stop! In order to sell to your potential customers effectively, you really do have to know them inside out. What keeps them awake at night and how can you solve that?
Profiling your target audience is the best way of knowing how to pitch your marketing properly. Find a photo on google that you think would be a likely customer then given them an age, career, family, lifestyle, down to every last detail you can think of. If you ideal customer is a 50 year old lady who spends her evenings reading Yours magazine then that gives you a lot of information about marketing ideas, competitors, other interests, etc. More importantly, are they going to be interested in what you have to offer?
Let’s talk about your competitors
Perceived competition can be a major threat to new businesses starting out. Perceived because, yes, every business has competition that it can seem impossible to compete against. But. No one is you. You’re unique skills, experiences and talent make your business different to every other.
Sometimes it’s worth getting to know your competitors because you can actually work together.
Crazy, right? Not really, if you’ve identified your niche – i.e. building small websites for tradesmen, and you get a client wanting an e-commerce store it’s sometimes better to offer that work to a competing web designer. Quite often it’ll pay off as you can take on a different job that’s perfect for your skills and your competitor will repay the favour.
It can be easy to see competitors as ‘enemies’ but there is more than enough work to go around for everyone. There’s also a wealth of information that can be learned from already established businesses that have made the ‘newbie’ mistakes already, so maybe arrange a chat over coffee and gain some valuable advice.
How are people going to know you’re there?
Marketing. It’s one task that is essential for every business but can seem like a complete nightmare. How to get started, what works and what doesn’t, adverts or networking? A lot of it is trial and error but there a few things you can get started with straight away.
Have a website. You don’t need an all singing, all dancing website straight away (save the pennies for something else), using WordPress most people can build their own website over a day or two. This is your shop window 24/7 every day of the year. A strong web presence will reassure customers that you are genuine, allow you to expand on your USP and why you fit the needs of your target audience AND allow you to host content to share on social media. Which is the second marketing essential.
Don’t forget to get social on social media
One of the cheapest and most effective forms of marketing is social media. Yes, it really does work but you have to use it properly. Twitter and Facebook aren’t about advertising what you do and expecting people to instantly buy what you’re offering. It’s about building your reputation, credibility and networking with other businesses. It is a slow burn process but when done properly, can yield some incredible results.
Don’t overlook the basics
A lot of business owners try to minimise expense when starting out, naturally we all want to save money where we can. One thing you definitely shouldn’t neglect is business insurance. For many businesses, this is essential but for those home based businesses it can be tempting to forget about it. Could you afford for your business to be taken to court? A sole trader is personally liable so it’s worth paying an insurance premium now to avoid a hefty sum or even bankruptcy in the future.
Whilst we’re talking about avoiding hefty sums, data protection registration is something you may have to consider to avoid paying a fine. You can check out if you need it for your business here in ‘Data Protection and the Small Business Owner’.
Hopefully, this blog has given you some food for thought with your new business plans. Make sure you read through the archives for some more helpful tips and advice. Good luck with your new business and don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything I can assist you with.