Carolyn Clarke is a serial entrepreneur turned business consultant who’s spent the past decade helping new businesses move from startups to fully-fledged operations, working closely with companies like BrandBucket. When she’s not in her startup sandbox, she enjoys visiting Lake Tahoe with her two kids, husband, and golden retriever, Scout.
Not every startup is launched the same way. You might start with a new product that you want to build a global company around, or just have an idea for a service that is poorly represented in your neighborhood. No matter which approach you use it can be exciting, but also daunting. After all, a lot of startups fail. But the great news is that success is possible if you keep a few helpful tips in mind.
Your vision of a startup may focus on a few people putting together an idea in a garage or a basement. But even the most successful companies in the world were once a startup. How do you execute an idea to make sure your new business is successful? The pros will tell you it takes a lot of time, patience, and hardwork.
It also helps to have some great advice from people who have been there before. Researching for the right tips can seem time consuming as there is so much advice out there. Not all of those tips will fit your startup either. But here are five ideas recommended by experienced entrepreneurs that can help you no matter what kind of startup you are launching:
1. Find Your Niche:
When you are getting your startup going you may want to give your company a broad reach to attract as many customers as possible. Doing so, however, will likely cause unnecessary stress and leave your company spread too thin to survive. Starting with a small niche market instead is a smarter move. Not only will this focus you as things get rolling, but by pushing into a smaller market you’ll have less competition to worry about.
Starting out small not only gives you the chance to handle all of your competitors, but it can help you zero in on your products and your customers as well. With just a small market to focus on you’ll be able to understand the expectations of your target consumers better. You can then implement a scalable approach that will allow you to slowly expand and get your foot into other markets without overextending resources.
2. Create a Solid Plan:
Once you know the type of startup and the approach you want then it’s time to pull together a business plan. You may think a formal plan isn’t that important depending on the industry you want to break into. But no matter what services or products you will be offering a solid plan can be one of the most valuable tools for your startup.
In your plan you should lay out all of the launch costs. This should include inventory costs, marketing, employees, and anything else you may need to spend money on in the first six months. A great plan looks beyond the launch phase though. Put in benchmarks for profits and ideas about where you want to take your startup down the road.
This not only allows you to think realistically about what you want to accomplish and why, but having goals clearly written out can give you the momentum needed to push forward when setbacks occur.
3. Surround Yourself with Helpers:
Until you get things going you may want to keep your startup close to your vest. After all, it’s your baby. But having a solid network of supporters can be vital to a successful launch. Mentors can help you avoid some of the common missteps that entrepreneurs commonly run into. Co-founders or partners can give you a fresh perspective on your business plan for better refinement. Having the right people in your corner can motivate you when you feel stuck or keep you reigned in when you may be trying to push too far too fast.
Engaging with other entrepreneurs is not only useful to get things off the ground, but it is also beneficial in getting word of mouth out about your company. New startups appear every day, and with today’s short attention span consumers it can be hard to rise above the noise to stand out.
By attending networking events, trade shows, and similar gatherings you’ll do a lot of your marketing with a lot less effort. This also allows you to become an ambassador for your brand while researching other techniques that can create successful opportunities later.
4. Focus on Customers:
Staying laser focused about the needs of your company can be easy to do. By doing so you can create a product you will really be proud of. But if the customers you are targeting don’t think it’s great then you won’t be in business long. Develop products and services based on their interests. Focus on what challenges they may have and tailor your products to help them be overcome.
A great way to accomplish this is by interacting with customers on as many platforms as possible. Modern companies do more than just set up a storefront and establish billboards to get the word out. Having a solid website is a great way to start, but the companies that really reach people are the ones who utilize social media channels to engage with consumers on a regular basis.
Know your audience when developing your marketing strategy. Find the ways they like to interact with companies and share valuable information not just about your products but about your industry too and they will feel like you are interested in more than their money.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure:
Every business fails at some point. Even the most successful corporations have at least a few stories about how they stumbled along the way. Instead of letting the roadblocks keep you from staying in business, learn to turn losses into wins.
Resiliency is an important trait to have no matter what kind of startup you are running. It is often through missteps that good products and ideas receive the critical examination needed to refine them into something great.
The best strategy to rebound from failures is to add flexibility into your business plans. Trends and technologies in the business world are always changing, and you need to be ready to embrace them to avoid having your startup collapsing on itself. Make it a priority to learn as much as you can – including being open to feedback and criticism – so that when you stumble or hit a dead end you have alternatives to keep things going.
Combine Passion & Advice for Success:
To make sure your startup is successful it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. There is no set of guidelines that guarantees success, and you are sure to have moments where things seem to be falling apart.
When you feel backed into a corner you can always try to bring in help from professional companies like BrandBucket to take some of the burden off of your shoulders. But the most important thing to keep in mind is to remember your passion. Remember why you wanted to start the company and what it means to you. Because that commitment is as critical to any company’s success as any professional tip you may receive.
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