“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” (Thomas Edison, Co-Founder of General Electric)
Are you thinking about starting up your own business? Remember, it is one thing being able to come up with a good business idea. It’s another kettle of fish entirely knowing how to put it into action. Without the right planning and preparation, your company is doomed from the start. This is why so many new businesses fail within the first couple of years. The true secret to business success lies in the effective delivery of your product or service to the target consumer. It’s all in the execution.
Let’s face it, there are millions of products out there that nobody really needs, yet they sell like hot cakes. Obviously, the customer feels convinced enough to reach for their wallet, so what’s the big secret? At the same time, there are just as many winning ideas that never receive any recognition. Why does nobody stand up and take notice? Here are some tips to consider if you want to run a successful business.
TIP #1 – Create a business plan
Amazingly, there are a staggering amount of start-ups operating without a viable business plan. It is imperative to test the feasibility of your idea, conduct market research and set realistic business goals before you even dream of making steps to start your own company. You can save yourself an awful lot of time, money, effort and heartache in the long run.
A business plan is an essential blueprint. It measures success indicators against potential obstacles that could crop up along the way. It takes into account your budget and how you can effectively manage your capital. It allows you to prepare an appropriate marketing strategy, figure out the type of organisation structure that will best suit your needs and what the foreseeable future holds for your company. A business plan also gives you an opportunity to assess your own skills: What do you bring to the table? Where do you lack expertise? Who do you need to hire?
Finally, it is very useful if you are looking for outside investment, as investors will want to accumulate as much information as possible to make sure it’s worth the risk. Investing in a start-up is always a gamble, so an experienced investor will always want to trust that you are a good bet.
Visit www.business.gov.au for helpful tips on writing up a business plan, along with free downloadable templates and a handy business planning tablet app to guide you through the whole process.
TIP #2 – Consult a financial adviser
There is no point whatsoever in starting up a business, if you can’t afford it. Poor financial management is the number one cause of business failure. Adequate start-up capital is an absolute must, so it is highly advisable to seek professional advice to double check you have enough funds to carry out your intended business proposal.
A financial adviser can recommend the best financial strategy for you based on your budget, by pointing out any unnecessary outgoings and setting up a savings plan to help maximise your profit.
TIP #3 – Get qualified
The best way to succeed in business is to understand how it works from the inside out. If you wish to open up a hairdressing salon, or a massage parlour, it will certainly help if you are a certified masseuse or hairdresser to begin with.
Running an effective business also requires sharp insight into the day-to-day running of a company. Anyone who has watched Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares will understand just how crucial it is to ensure your product or service is of an outstanding quality and that it is delivered to the customer in the best way possible. There are plenty of business owners out there who don’t have a clue what they are doing. At best, they are losing valuable revenue, but in most cases they are on a sinking ship that has no hope of resurfacing. If you are going to do something, do it right, or else what’s the point.
Know your strengths and weaknesses, what you can and can’t do. Use the skills that you have, but develop the ones that you don’t, or else hire people with those skills.
If you don’t have a background in business, it is strongly recommended to get a Diploma of Business Administration. This will teach you the basics that every entrepreneur needs to know for effective management of finances, accounts, payroll, staff, general administration, IT, customer service, recordkeeping and establishing workplace policy.
On the flip side, if you feel confident enough to run a business and have previously worked in an administrative capacity without a qualification, it certainly won’t hurt to pick one up through RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) at a fraction of the traditional course cost. In fact, you will be taken a lot more seriously in the business world if your skills and experience are backed up with recognisable credentials that prove you have what it takes.
Visit www.gqaustralia.com.au for a free skills assessment to see what business qualifications you may be entitled to through your existing work experience.
TIP #4 – Know your niche
Once you have conducted some preliminary research on your target market and carved out a space that satisfies enough demand, please be warned that this is only the first step. You need to know your niche like the back of your hand if you want to be successful. This means keeping a close eye on your competitors at all times, because they can easily swoop in and offer something better if you are not careful, particularly if you are just starting out with limited capital.
Think about it, if you were a large corporate entity and came across a small company offering something else that you do not currently provide, wouldn’t you try to steal the idea and assimilate it into your own business as a bonus extra? It happens all the time, so be wary and stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry.
TIP #5 – Build a website and social media outlets
Although the word-of-mouth method of advertising still reigns supreme in many cases, a successful business is nothing without a good website in the digital age. Unless you know how to build one yourself, it’s best to hire a professional web designer and copywriter for optimum results. If you have accurately researched your target market and competition, you should already be well versed in the type of dialogue to use when speaking with your customers. Anything further that you wish to find out can be voiced directly to them through your website, blog and social media channels as you see fit.
Investing in an experienced marketing manager to monitor your site and social media could be one of the best long-term decisions you make. Don’t underestimate their value, especially when it comes to analysing your web traffic and utilising tools, such as Google Analytics to constantly improve your service, make it more customer-friendly and introduce an enticing assortment of calls-to-action tailored toward different demographics. It is also sensible to optimise your site for mobile, since smartphones and tablets are forecast to overtake PCs for internet use in the near future.
So the real question is do you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or swimming with the sharks? Either way, the secret to business success lies in the execution of a central idea that will attract enough consumer attention. This takes a massive amount of legwork before you have the capacity to hit the ground running, plus savvy business skills and a wealth of industry knowledge. In fact, once your business really takes off, the learning never really stops, so be mentally prepared for the road ahead. Stepping out on your own takes courage, stamina and endurance if you want to succeed for the long haul. That being said, if you have the right attitude and adopt an informed approach from the outset, the deck will be much more stacked in your favour.