Starting a new business, picking up a less than successful enterprise, or re-vamping existing operations within your business can be a daunting task to take on. However, with these ten fool-proof tips, you’ll have your small business up and running in no time! Read on to learn some critical key factors when deciding toembark on the path of entrepreneurship:
Often, people jump into a business built around a product or service they think will be successful, rather than one that is already proven to have a market. For example, instead of designing a new sports shoe with the latest and greatest design, you’d be much better to focus on a shoe category and then focus more specifically on the niche of high performance sports shoes. In short, it’s much better to have a small slice of a large category than, a large slice of no market at all.
Cash is the lifeline and blood of your business; therefore you’ll need to find ways to grab that flow immediately. One way is to ask for deposits on work up-front, with balances due on delivery. In retail, offer items on layaway, especially on specialty items. You can also develop continuity programs where customers pay an up-front monthly fee to insure delivery or availability of items they will buy on a repeat basis.
Never pay retail. Instead, look for gently used items to furnish your office or space. Pay vendors up front, giving leverage for negotiating better prices. Especially in this economic environment, where credit is at a premium.
The numbers side of business is a key part of early business education. With that said however, in most cases, there haven’t been business start-ups where expenses were at least 30 percent more than initially planned or anticipated, and revenues - at least that much less. Being conservative with your numbers doesn't automatically mean a willingness to accept those numbers. Instead, it means that you are providing yourself with information you can work with. It means you can gauge the levels of efforts you’ll need to put in to your business, especially in the area of sales and marketing.
With success, nothing happens until a sale is made. From the get go, you'll need a great way to get leads that will translate into sales (make sure you’re aware of the Four P’s of Marketing) and make sure to keep ensuring sales from customers. Create a marketing and sales funnel system that can be worked, tested, measured and used by anyone in the company. Too often, entrepreneurs focus on getting their brand right before they start to generate leads. That is the exact recipe for disaster. Understand that leads are exponentially more important than your brand. Therefore, cut your costs and don’t waste your money getting your brand right the first time round, especially at the expense of spending that same money to attract new customers. By understanding this concept, you'll discover you can build your brand from the ground up, versus spending days or years and countless hundreds of thousands of dollars building from the top down. Don't assume you’d even survive that long, because without leads, you absolutely won’t.
If you can master the five drivers that impact profit, while keeping your costs in check, you will run a successful business. These happen to be as easy as getting leads, translating leads into customers, increasing the number of times those customers buy from you, increasing the average price point of your sales and increasing your profit margins. Do any one of those, while also keeping costs down, you will see more profit. Do all of them and you will see your business skyrocket!
You can't change what you don't know, so make sure to test, measure and track all results. In other words, think in terms of doctors. Get baseline stats before delving into identifying symptoms, or recommending corrective courses of action. Why throw money away on an ad campaign that costs thousands of dollars, but doesn't bring any people through the door? Measure, test and track in order to get those leads!
You might know nothing about running a million dollar business, however, you can learn to run one, it’s as simple as that! In doing this, you’ll need to understand that learning always comes before "earning". Therefore, be committed to learning as much as possible. Identify key areas of growth (sales, marketing, leads) and decide to learn key concepts yourself or hire an expert and learn as much as you can from that person. Remember, the more you know should translate into the more you earn.
Whenever you discount (items or labor etc), you are taking money directly out of your pocket/business and directly from your profits. Don't do it! Instead, create added value. Whatever the industry is, look to hold your price points, increase your margins with the low-cost or no-cost extras or promotions. Those won't cost a lot, and will help build up your company through word-of-mouth etc.
Talk to someone who is objective, and you can rely on for “real” business advice – someone who will hold you accountable and help you get the results you’re striving for. Often, we think we have all the answers, however, when building a business this is not the case. Another set of eyes and someone who is objective can work wonders for how you operate both on and in your business. So prepare as well as you can, knowing you will need to make changes and armed with the right strategies, you can cut the time it will take you to successfully get to your ultimate destination.Before getting this far, it's always good to have the fundamentals of business under your belt. Like we said, learn, learn, learn!