What should you consider when starting your business?
Updated: Mar 24, 2019
Starting a new business? Just where should you start?
There are a considerable amount of things you need to think about, other than marketing, when you start your small business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and get nowhere.
To help you get over the inertia that can come when you have a whole heap of priorities, we, have pulled together our top tips to get you going. The ‘we’ is me and the other freelancers I work with. On chatting, we realised we all had different start points and different priorities when we started up, but together we came up with these tips!
Write a plan
Every successful business should start with a solid business plan, and it is amazing how many small companies don’t have one. We don’t believe you should set these in stone in the early days, as things change and you need to react, but you do need a plan of some sort. By having a plan, you will focus your time, energy and budget in the areas which are most likely to grow your business and show up the areas where you need help or a bit more thought.
There are a load of free online templates available, so have a search and get going.
It does not need to be 100 pages long either, but it needs to be useful enough to give you the focus you will very definitely need!
Alongside this, write yourself a basic marketing plan. Written in a similar vein, it will help you with focus on our tip two!
Identify your customers
Everything you do, from your marketing, your social media strategy, to your new product or service development needs to be planned with just one person in mind – your ideal customer. If you have not defined your ideal customer yet, now is the time to start! Take a look at our free download to build your customer persona.
Make sure you understand who will you actually sell to and who won’t buy from you.
Be clear and define your USP
USP stands for unique selling point or unique selling proposition. Your USP is what gives you a competitive advantage, such as a distinct benefit.
A clear USP will save your customers and potential customers time when choosing between you and any other supplier.
Don’t get too hung up on your competition as it is very likely your service or product will be similar to other businesses. You should have competitors as they will show you there is a valid marketplace for your business and you have customers out there wanting your products. Your competitors will also help you get to know your market and give you a better understanding of what works and what does not.
Here’s how we worked out our USPs:
• Know your features and benefits. Know your features, but be aware that features aren't what entice customers to buy. A benefit answers the question "What's in it for me?," It’s the benefits of your service or product which sell!
• What’s your background? What gives you credibility? This could include a number of year’s of experience, the businesses you have worked with, or a qualification etc.
• What good things do customers say about you or your product or service? Why do clients use you? As you get new clients, ask them why they use you.
• What words will you use when selling your product or service?
• What’s your hook? From a more personal point of view, what will you use as your PR hook – how or why did you start your business, why is it interesting to others, what will it solve and how do you know?
• Who will you not sell to – understanding this will help you define who you will sell to!
• What gap in the market will you fill? What are your competitors doing well and what are they not doing well? Where is the gap you can fill?
Above all things, be very mindful of how you come over, through the messages you put out and the way you come across. Ensure these fit with the audience you are trying to reach. There is little point in having a USP which is very different from your actual expertise, or does not fit with how you come over.
Think 'RyanAir vs Emirates'. They offer very different business models, appeal to different audiences and have defined their USPs very differently.
Plan your marketing
It doesn’t matter how tiny your startup business is or how small your customer base is, the one thing you can’t afford to overlook is a marketing plan and the budget you will need to meet it.
This is such a common topic for us lot in marketing. We hear of lots of great start-up ideas, but the first thing owners will say to us, is that they have very little budget. We are not suggesting you spend all your budget with a marketing freelancer or agency, but we are saying that you do need some sort of reasonable budget.
Otherwise, how will customers know you exist? How will they know what to think of your business and what will motivate them to visit your business, shop or website?
There are plenty of things you can do on your own, but all need planning out, and this is where your marketing plan will come in.
Your small business marketing strategy is likely to focus on brand awareness and lead generation and your plan should consider the: • What? • Who? • Why? • How? • When?
Your basic marketing plan is likely to look at activities under the following headers, in no particular order.
• Branding • PR. • Social media. • Online and SEO. • Your website. • Advertising. • Events. • Customer relationship marketing (CRM).
Once you have these in place, sort yourself out a calendar of activity so you can get going on the next steps.
Work out your budget
It is true that some businesses can be successfully started on a minuscule budget, but others will need some sort of investment or funding to get going. So, as with all things, one of the most important steps is to work out how much launching your business will cost you, what the cost of each marketing activity you choose will be, and where you are going to find the money.
We think the things to consider include:
• Creating and delivering your new products and services. • Creating your visuals – your branding and logo • Designing and building your website or online presence. • Work out where you need training? • Work out what you need to outsource?
• Administration and accounts. • Your marketing needs – brochures, banners, advertising, etc • New equipment such as a phone system, laptop, printer • Any online platforms you may need to buy into – accounting, marketing, etc.
Find yourself some friends!
Businesses owners need other business owners. Finding and developing relationships with other business owners is absolutely invaluable. They can help you reach new markets, get new contacts, give you valuable access to their experience and advice and offer emotional support.
You can find great support from networking groups, support groups, online groups, associations, chambers of commerce groups, FSB groups. You will find a zillion actual groups and another zillion virtual groups.
We decided that we put them into three categories: - The groups we find business from - The groups we go to so we can learn something new. - The groups we go to because we like the people (may or may not be the same as above!)
The balance comes in going to the groups you find business from the most vs the other two!
Deliver great customer service
Lots of small businesses keep their focus on acquiring new customers time after time. It is obviously important, but it is as essential to keep your current existing customers coming back to you. This is called great customer service!
Remember it’s a roller coaster
Remember running a small or large business is like riding a roller coaster. The highs are great, and the lows are difficult. It can be frustrating, uplifting, inspiring and downright bloody at times.
When you are having a horrible day, tough week or dire month, remember this is normal. Just keep sticking to your plan and keep on going – the great day, week or month is just around the corner.
Every business is run by a human being who suffers highs, lows, elation and despair just as you do. Remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of getting so caught up in your business that you neglect your family life, your physical or mental health. You need to find your balance, and everyone’s is different. None of us gets it right all of the time, but just be mindful of yourself in good times and bad.
One thing we all agree on is that we would not do anything else!