Checklist for a Successful Small Business
Starting a new business is fraught with risk, and the entrepreneur will try to eliminate or minimise as many risk areas as possible to increase the chances of success. In this digital age of online commerce, there is no room for stragglers, and if you do not have a strong online presence, things will be uphill from there. Although the path to success is full of potholes, with careful navigation and expert advice, an entrepreneur can avoid the common errors, which should lead to eventual success. If you are contemplating a start-up, here are some things you should know.
- It’s All about Service
At the end of the day, good service is what brings consumers back. If a person has a pleasant buying experience, they are far more likely to return. Some business owners focus too much on the product and neglect service and customer support, and both of these are essential if you want your customers to be happy. Leasing offices and hiring receptionists can be very expensive, but there is an alternative with call handling services.
- Call Handling
If you want to avoid unanswered calls and bad service, enlist the help of a call handling company, who have a range of services on tap, including providing virtual office facilities. A virtual office is no different to a bricks and mortar building, at least not from the customer’s perspective, as you have a prestigious postal address in the heart of the business area, with corresponding phone numbers. When a person calls your number, the call will be transferred to the call centre, where a professional receptionist will answer on your behalf. This is done by using a virtual number, and with instant message relay, you will always be informed. You might be looking for holiday telephone cover, and a call handling company would be happy to oblige.
- Don’t Overstretch
This is a common mistake, especially when things start very well, and the projected sales forecasts become very optimistic. It is tempting to start investing in expansion, yet very often, this leads to a serious problem if the projected sales figures are not achieved. The market has many variables, and any number can come together and create a lull in sales, and if this goes on for a few months, your budget becomes stretched, and you can do without any form of expansion, at least for a while.
- The Business Plan
Some people think a business plan is put together to convince an investor to fund a project, and although the business plan would demonstrate a level of preparation, it was not created for the investor, rather for the entrepreneur. If you are to maximise your chances of success, it is necessary to analyse the market, work out your start up and running costs, and then, perhaps most importantly, to define how you are going to achieve your desired sales figures. This plan would be a lot more than a few pages, and would include detailed information about the following:
- The product or service
- The current state of the market
- Start-up costs
- Running costs
- Working capital
- Marketing strategies
- Sales forecasts
This plan would be referred to at all times, and forms the basis of the direction the business will take. By covering every possibility, you are increasing the chances of a successful outcome, and here is some further reading on the importance of a business plan, which should be enough to convince you to take the time to put one together.
- The Right Marketing
Digital marketing is essential in today’s world of e-commerce, and with so much online competition, this is not an optional extra. Forging an alliance with an established digital marketing company will enable you to create and maintain a very strong online presence. Social media is fast becoming the preferred way to order products, so you will need to create several accounts with leading platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, with regular updates of dynamic content, with images and video. This will reach out to many consumers, and if you have done your homework, you will soon have a substantial following, and once that happens, you create marketing avenues to offer promotions and discounts to loyal customers.
- The Right Attitude
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be prepared for a long haul if your goal is a sustainable business with growth potential. If you are focused on keeping your customers happy, even if it comes at a loss, then you have the basis for a successful business. This becomes obvious when you take a closer look at a successful organisation, as it is clear that they are customer focused before anything else. There will be obstacles, but they should be viewed as something to overcome, and with a good product range and service second to none, there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish. Avoid the temptation to do everything yourself, as this will send you to an early grave, and with clever outsourcing, you can effectively manage a large business at an affordable cost.
- Know your Target Group
The first step is to identify your target group(s), which might include housewives, working professionals, or perhaps IT specialists, and then analyse how best to inform them of what you have to offer. Outsourcing your digital marketing means that you will have plenty of help in this area, and with a range of media avenues, your message will reach the right people. Knowing your customers is the key to being able to reach them, and it might be that there are several groups that your products appeal to, in which case, separate marketing avenues would be used.
There are many small online businesses run by entrepreneurs from their own homes, and with the right guidance, and some determination, it is possible to create a small business empire that will be around for a few generations. Outsourcing essential services allows you to compete with the big boys, and with a strong web presence and great customer service, the stage is set for success.