An entrepreneur’s top 7 tips for start-ups

7_tips_from_project_managers3If you’re considering starting your own business, there are certain things you need to get right from the beginning. Once you have nailed these it is imperative that they are maintained throughout the various stages of development. The benefit of hindsight has enabled me to reflect on the most important elements of starting a business.

Subsequently, here are my top 7 tips for making your start-up as successful as possible:

  1. Understand your market

It’s vital for new businesses to understand the marketplace that they’re trying to break into or join. Here it is essential that they do their research to discover whether there is a demand for the product or service it’s providing. The most successful businesses invest the time and money into deciphering what their target markets require and identify what’s most important to the customer. Once they have achieved this they should build their business model around that. If there is already a demand, it’s essential that you find your point of difference from what else is on the market. Monitoring existing business models and looking for opportunities can allow you to improve the offer in meaningful ways to the customer.

  1. Understand your product

This may sound obvious but look at your product from different angles in order to pinpoint your core offering and key features. A useful perspective is to look from the point of view of the customer and analyse why the customer needs your product – this can reveal elements that are increasing costs but at the same time be important to the customer, thus enabling you to modify your offering and save money. It may also identify any gaps where your product falls short of the customer’s expectation.

Looking at your product objectively can offer up other practical uses for your product; can it be used in another industry or is there a secondary target market that can use the product differently? When you have identified your product’s core features and unique selling point it is easier to build a business and marketing strategy.

  1. Brand your business effectively

Another way to differentiate your business is through branding – this can make the business feel different to other competing brands, even though the service or product is essentially very similar. Through clear and precise branding you can control the marketing of your business. Here it can be smart to highlight your businesses key strengths in a way that will enable potential customers to take notice. This branding needs to stretch across marketing, public relations, digital advertising, magazines, events, we well as prominent forms of new media like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. By covering all forms of new media you will maximise the brand’s exposure and awareness.

The branding and marketing of the product or service is equally as important as the product or service itself; without a successful marketing strategy the product or service may not receive the exposure it needs to ensure profitability.

  1. Carefully select your employees

Putting in the time and effort to handpick your employees for your new business venture is going to pay you dividends in the long run. This is one of the most important elements to your business; who you select will come to represent your organisation on your behalf. Scour your existing networks and choose the people you believe are most worthy and the best fit for your business.

  1. Have a strong sales team

Another fundamental part of starting a business is a strong sales team. These team members should know the business and product inside and out, and will know how to sell it and cater to each individual consumer. Through having a prepared and knowledgeable sales team, businesses are able to multiply their audience and enhance their credibility. The objective here is to drive profits and generate revenue which is the fundamental reason that you are in business. A strong team will free up your time, thus enabling you to focus on planning and growing your business. It is crucial that you invest in a sales team from the beginning in order to ensure the survival of the business.

  1. Employ a finance and operations team

Finance is the key to making sure the business stays sustainable and profitable, if this is not your areas of expertise, employ a team of specialists whose sole focus is financial. By doing so, this will enable you to reap the benefits of their expertise and allow you to focus on building the business in other areas.

  1. Monitor your external environment

Every business is impacted by factors that are beyond its control. A successful business needs to be able to look inward and outward at the same time and modify their overall strategy where necessary in order to manage risk. Internal factors can mostly be managed and influenced; however, external factors are largely beyond one’s control. Remaining up-to-date on economic predictions, consumer behaviours and competitor activity is incredibly important, so that you are able to be reactive with your business. As an extension of this, it would be a wise idea to have a risk management strategy in place, largely to minimise the impact that external factors may have on the business. Just as no man is an island, no business exists in a vacuum.

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