Creating a start-up business is a courageous entrepreneurial venture. It demonstrates vision, ambition, and determination, as you seek to let go of a 9 to 5 in order to follow your dreams. The freedom, satisfaction, and limitless potential of starting a business are some of the main motivators.
The rush of emerging start-ups in recent years parallels with the traits of a modern worker. Employees today value quality of life and job satisfaction over things like job security and corporate ladder progression.
In today’s e-commerce driven marketplace, setting up an online service requires very little start-up costs. In the information age, people can learn and gain new skills for free, enabling them to start a business venture.
A lot of start-up owners fail to recognize the amount of work required to enable their business for long-term success. While short-term progress is common, too few start-ups make it past one or two years. By taking on too many responsibilities and stretching themselves too thin, managers and owners neglect certain areas of the business, ultimately leading to failure.
Unfortunately, 20% of small businesses don’t make it past their first year, 30% fail within two years, and 50% fail after five years. These figures demonstrate the sheer difficulty involved in successful business today.
If you’ve launched a new start-up, you don’t have to contribute to these failure statistics. Some strategies and actions can enable your business to succeed. With this in mind, here are ten key tips for establishing a successful start-up business.
1. Create a business plan
One of the most important steps you can take when establishing a start-up is to create a strong business plan. This lays the foundations for success by outlining the goals, objectives, and ambitions of the company while aligning them with strategies and actions.
Not only does a business plan create clarity with regard to the core functions of business, but it also makes you and your staff accountable for achieving your goals. With a clear plan in place, you and your employees can work in harmony toward success.
A good business plan should also include competitor analysis, an industry overview, internal analysis, marketing strategy, logistics, operations, and financial projections.
Although some companies have endured success without using a business plan, a study has shown that in general, businesses that operate using a business plan are twice as likely to succeed as those that don’t.
Start on the right path and create a solid business plan. More importantly, you must stick to it. If circumstances change, adapt your plan to the new scenario.
2. Seek funding
No matter what business you’re starting, there will be some initial costs to get you up and running. These costs will vary depending on the industry. For example, an FMCG company may require significant investment to secure the first batch of products to be sold. On the other hand, a digital graphic design service could be started with little to no funding. Whether or not you plan to hire staff is another factor that determines the need for funding.
The most common avenues for securing funding include personal savings, friends and family, venture capital, angel investors, banks, and crowdfunding. If you’re going down the investor route, it’s beneficial to have financial statements to determine how much investment you need. These can also help with securing money from potential investors.
3. Establish a clear target market
Without a clear idea of who your audience is, it’s next to impossible to market successfully. You must know who your target market is, as well as their interest, what they search for online, and what they value in a product or service. This allows you to develop marketing and customer acquisition strategies that enable success.
Once you establish your target market, you can break it into segments for more specific targeting. This isolates customers based on unique characteristics and aims at serving their needs exclusively.
Effective methods for market segmentation are:
- Demographics: age group, gender, education, etc.
- Psychographic: values, beliefs, interests, lifestyle, etc.
- Behavioural: hobbies, purchasing patterns, brand preferences, etc.
- Geographic: location, region, etc.
It’s important not to rely on a small customer base. Although loyal clientele has value, it is risky to depend on them for a meaningful amount of revenue. You must prioritize expanding your customer base. This should be reflected in marketing and lead generation strategies. More customers lead to increased revenue, reach, and potential for success.
4. Form business relationships
Good relationships can go a long way in business. The key to developing a strong business network is to make relationships beneficial for both sides. While it’s important to help others and offer your services, ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of.
Get involved in conferences, webinars, seminars, and networking groups to make useful connections in your industry.
5. Product sourcing
For a product-based business, product sourcing is one of the most crucial parts of operations. Securing the best possible price for the items is essential for maximizing your profits and bringing long-term success.
A large percentage of FMCG companies import their goods from China. You must establish reliable contacts on-site, and get up to speed with importation methods. There are many useful resources available online to guide you through the process.
6. Study your competitors
Studying and analyzing your competitors is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps to discover the strengths and weaknesses of those who you share the marketplace with. This can then inform you of potential opportunities for your business to exploit. Competitor analysis shows you the market leaders and where you stand within the industry. Finally, any successful strategies can be analyzed and implemented as part of your overall strategies.
While it’s important to study your competition, don’t get hung up on comparisons. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to business so that you can pave your own path to success.
7. Launch the perfect website
In modern business, website perfection should be the goal. While it might be impossible to create the perfect site, setting this goal causes you to work continuously on maintaining and improving your webpage.
Your site doesn’t have to be overly complicated. The key areas to focus on are:
- Having a visually impressive site: A slick and clean appearance is far more attractive to a user than a site that’s loaded with information.
- Usability: Your webpage must be user-friendly, and the buyer journey should be seamless.
- Call-to-action: The main objective of your business is to sell. Make it convenient and easy for your customers to make a purchase or subscribe. Ensure that there is ample call-to-action, without overwhelming the user.
- Landing pages: These will be the most visited pages of your site, so they should be prioritized. Adapt these to suit the needs and wants of your audience.
Update your site with quality content and enable it for in-depth analysis.
8. Cover all legalities
There are quite a few legalities involved in registering your business officially. Whether it’s tax, intellectual property, insurance, copyright, trademarks, or any other legal issue, make sure that you are adequately covered. It’s advisable to seek professional advice in the early stages to avoid any accidental breaches.
9. Consider outsourcing
A mistake made by many start-up owners is that they try to take on too much responsibility. Nobody is an expert at everything, so at some point, it’s beneficial to outsource certain functions of the business to professional third party services.
Specialized operations are time-consuming, particularly if you lack experience in them. Outsourcing areas such as I.T., accounting, payroll, and web design can allow the owner and management to concentrate on the core aspects of the business.
One of the major benefits of outsourcing that’s frequently overlooked by start-ups is the cost-effectiveness. Third-party specialists can provide efficient services that can improve your bottom line. Accounting and I.T. professionals can advise you on internal processes that could save the business money.
Don’t become overburdened and hire extra help if necessary.
10. Take cybersecurity serious
Cybercrime is a real threat to start-ups and small businesses. With so many daily tasks and responsibilities, it’s easy to overlook the potential for a cyberattack on your company. Many start-up owners see cybercrime as an issue that only large companies have to deal with. While it’s a concern for global enterprises, it’s an even greater threat to start-ups.
Start-ups are easy targets for cybercriminals. Although they may not have the lucrative data and information of established companies, the network security is generally a lot weaker.
For a small business, a cyberattack can be detrimental. Whether there is a data breach relating to financial information or customer details, the consequences are usually severe.
Hire a reliable I.T. service to put cybersecurity measures in place, protecting you and your customers in the long term. Prioritize digital safety, or risk losing everything.