Taking your dream business idea you have been sitting on for a while and deciding to turn it into a reality can be a very daunting procedure. There are a tonne of things to worry about and it can hold you back from taking the next step and pushing forward. If you are a new start-up and want to go the next level it involves taking a risk and again, can be a hard task. But do not worry, I have put together top tips to help you reach your goals, stay organised and on route.
This seems like an obvious one but we all forget to do it, we get so caught up in our thoughts and panicking if we can make it happen that we forget to actually start the processes of what needs to be done. I try and remember the following quote whenever I panic; “people who our depressed live in the past, people who are anxious live in the future”. Forget the mistakes you have made previously in your business, as you will have learnt valuable lessons. Don’t worry about what’s coming ahead and if you will achieve what you are setting out for, only time will tell. I will say one thing though, if you want to seriously increase your chances of reaching your targets, live in the now and do something! Anything that is productive and is a step in right direction, no matter how small the step, as long as it’s forward.
Are you matching your customers’ needs with your skills/products?
You have to remember that it’s not just about you, it’s about the customer, and after all they are the life and soul of your business. Add value for them, without customers there is no business. Don’t just offer a product/service that you want to sell, offer product customers want to buy. Focus on what your customers are missing and fill that gap with what you have to offer, make your business an essential.
Don’t aim too high… YET
Success isn’t one huge task completed one day as a one off; success is lots of small tasks done consistently every day. Of course it’s good to have big ambitions don’t get me wrong, but it’s important to not try to rush too much. Organic growth is the best growth; you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket and have a wide spread of loyal and trustworthy customers. Going in for one huge deal can be time consuming and if fails, can leave you empty handed. Don’t be afraid to aim high and reach out for bigger sales, just be cautious and consider if you can afford to do so. Slow and steady wins the race, and if you keep pushing forward day by day, you will be there before you know it!
If you are lucky enough to have been able to raise finance yourself then that’s one less worry off your back and puts you in a great position. If however, you are going to be looking for funding, you need to consider your options very carefully. Firstly, you need to consider what type of finance you will go for. The simplest tends to be a business loan from the bank. However, the banks are lending to businesses less and less so this hasn’t becoming the first choice for many businesses now starting up. If you struggle with bad credit or haven’t been in business long enough to provide financial history for your firm, a bank loan isn’t for you. Alternative finance is a great option rather than a bank loan.
Peer-to-peer loans are the first option. Peer-to-peer lending companies essentially match borrowers with lenders. This allows both borrowers and savers to bypass the banks and cut out the middleman. Peer-to-peer loan providers are much more likely to take a look at applications rather than applying through a computer based algorithm with the bank which leaves you with a simple ‘no’. This opens up your loan options widely with new providers offering new types of secured and unsecured exciting products to the market.
The second is equity crowdfunding. This is offering shares in your business in return for a monetary investment. This can be a useful method if you are unable to take out a loan but you have a really exciting idea. It’s great if you are looking to raise a large amount of money too. It is a much longer process as you have to become “investment ready”. This involves a campaign, lots of marketing to spark interest, a good, engaging video, and a crowdfunding platform willing to host your idea.
The platform will normally take a fee of between 2-5% of how much you raise. You can also look for private investment yourself. This will likely be just one or two lead investors who will take a stake in your business. You also have the option to look for private investors yourself and pitch to them direct, cutting out any platforms and taking on the leg work yourself. If you know where to look and if you have contacts, this is a great option.
Cashflow is a very important part when starting up in business. You want to see money coming in as well as going out. Cashflow is the life of a business and is essentially what will give you profits. A good tip to get this in motion is to ask for deposits on products or services and invoice the remaining balance when it’s completed. This way, you help to create a steady income of cash and balance the books out a bit!
Marketing, marketing, marketing!
So you have a great business idea, your product is great and it’s exactly what your customers’ are after. You have a fab website launched and yet you don’t have a single sale. Well what do you expect, no one knows about you! You have to be heard and you have to create a presence, online and offline! Digital is growing at a huge rate and there are over 53 million UK citizens online. £1900 is the average amount consumers spend online a year! It proves the business is there if you can take it. There are some great tools to help you online get noticed.
I recommend taking a look at Googles Digital Garage. They offer lots of learning and advice and it’s all for free. There are also lots of Emarketing tools and platforms which make things a lot simpler for you. Take a look at SEO (search engine optimisation) and how Google ranks its searches. Your mission is to appear for relevant searches on Google. They rank this by using Google Spiders who will search there index of the web and find all the links and keywords that relate to the person search and find the most relevant and popular. So get out there, spread the word, create quality back links, be user friendly and make sure your website has good quality keyword headers on your site.
Offline presence is just as important. Go out there and meet people, go to shows, business meet-ups and seminars. Hand your business cards out, look for potential customers who need your service. Billboards and image ads are also great if you have the funds.
This is also and online and offline topic. Get your business on all social platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Google+, the list goes on. Create some noise and get your noise heard. A great tip is to look at current trending topics and create a conversation. Engage with potential customers who are also talking about the topic and grow your following and become known online.
It’s best to do this organically and slowly but surely build your user base and network with quality followers who are interested in what you have to say. The same goes for offline. Stay on topic and get involved within your market. As I have already said, go to business shows, seminars and conferences and create yourself a network of peers who can help you to grow. Your surrounding’s are very important and you need to stay relevant to not be left behind.
But remember to have fun, after all this was your dream! Remember why you started out in the first place and keep that passion going. If you stick with it and keep consistent in growing, you will reach your business goal.
By Lee Nicolaou, Businessagent.com