Starting your own business isn’t too hard. Often, the biggest challenges are crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s — the little administrative details that follow on, once you’ve developed the overall concepts. On the other hand, the simple but big things at the beginning can make the difference between success and bankruptcy. Here’s what you need to know about launching your business and doing it right.
Give Them What They Want
The single most important part of any business isn’t the management, the marketing, or even the product. It’s the customers. You can have experienced management, excellent marketing, a fantastic product, and still fail — if there’s nobody out there that wants or needs what you have to sell.
Many business owners start out by saying to themselves, ‘gee, I’d like to start a business making…’ Unless they’ve been in the industry for years and already know there’s a demand, this can be a nearly suicidal move. Instead, the best entrepreneurs start out by saying ‘gee, it looks like there’s a lot of people who really need a…’
Starting from a position where there’s plenty of demand for what you’re going to sell or do, everything else is indeed just details. Particularly if you’re the only one offering a particular solution in your market or in your area, people will put in effort to seek out and find you — and whisper your name to their friends. Even if you screw up here and there, you’ll be able to make good on it and win forgiveness because your clients still need what you offer.
Compare this kind of position to the life of someone entering an already crowded marketplace, with many competitors offering a similar product and already addressing the same needs. Now, the business owner has to get everything right, the first time. They must be much more creative in finding customers and carving out a niche, and chances are the customers they do find will have plenty of other attractive options to choose from.
Pay Attention to the Details
Very few entrepreneurs are lucky enough to find themselves in a position where they sell a sought-after product to a market with no competition at all. (Those that are have often created this situation artificially, with skillful marketing and excellent positioning.)
Instead, chances are you won’t have quite as much demand as you expected and a little more competition than you’d like. Getting the details right provides a ‘moat’ between you and and the competition, while providing a ‘lure’ that keeps customers coming back over and over.
Details here can be as simple as ensuring your online storefront is located on good, convenient real estate. Not only is the aesthetic appeal and design of your website important, but good web hosting will ensure the pages load quickly and the site itself is always available.
If you sell overseas, then have your website professionally translated into your clients’ native languages. While they may be perfectly happy guessing and machine-translating their way to a purchase right now, the minute any of your competitors offers a native-language version, you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage. Additionally, having your website available in the language of your target market shows you have experience and expertise delivering to that market. You’ll be able to win clients simply on the perception that you have experience overcoming any issues delivering to their country or their community.
Remember the Back-Office Tasks
As an entrepreneur; it’s easy to focus entirely on the front-end issues like marketing and product development. Back-office tasks like accounting and licensing and taxes are in a sense just as important. While front-end work is what brings in the money, if back-office questions don’t get done you may find yourself unexpectedly out of business, wondering ‘what happened?’
If you don’t have time yourself, ensure someone else takes care of them.
Starting a business doesn’t have to be hard. Unfortunately, school and universities often do a poor job of preparing people to become business owners instead of employees. Starting a business does mean navigating a few pitfalls successfully. Provided you enter a market that has demand, get the details right, and ensure your back office is running smoothly, though, you’ll find success to be within your reach. In the event something does go wrong — which it always does — not to worry? All entrepreneurs face setbacks eventually. Learn from the problem and keep going.