So you’ve decided to start a business. Owning your own company is exciting, but it comes with a set of unique challenges. Everything from legal considerations to the anxiety of keeping the ledgers balanced can lead to hand-wringing for newly-minted entrepreneurs. Here are a few simple tips to keep business owners on the path to success.
Know Your Customer Base
The first step in planning a business is knowing exactly to who you’re marketing your products or services. Market research can be qualitative, which means using customer opinions and feedback to plan your strategies. It can also be quantitative, involving analysis of statistics and demographics. One new trend is called “growth marketing.” This is an empathetic approach that focuses on generating customer loyalty by building relationships. Whichever tactic you choose, knowledge is power.
Have a Solid Business Plan
A good business plan describes in detail what the objective of the company is and how that goal is to be attained. Having this document is typically the minimum to secure bank loans and other crucial startup capital. Templates are offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for free online. At this stage, consider going beyond this simple paperwork and outlining your company’s vision. Any brand has to be about more than making money to resonate with modern consumers.
Choose Your Legal Structure Carefully
Possibly the most important consideration when starting a company is the legal side. The choice of legal structure for a business entity has major ramifications for taxation as well as personal liabilities. Sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, and partnership are the basic forms, but there are many options to consider within each structure. It’s also important to consider how your business will look on the inside. Will it have a traditional hierarchical structure, or will it be flat, with everyone sharing responsibility and reward? Having the optimal structure will be the difference between success and failure.
Leverage Technology to Create Efficiency
Startups tend to operate on slim margins, especially at the outset. Efficiency is key to cutting waste and managing risk. Technology can provide a solution here, with advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence creating an abundance of automated tools. Consider using project management software to hold meetings and share information instead of expanding your physical office space. Think about using analytical algorithms to do research instead of hiring a human team. The cost savings from going digital can be game-changing.
Consider Multiple Income Streams
Knowing your operational needs is important. From production costs to logistics to pricing, there are multiple expenses to consider when running a business. It’s only logical to look for multiple sources of capital. Initially, grants, loans, investor money, and even crowdsourcing are all options for financial security.
Within certain restrictions, businesses are often allowed to become investors themselves. For example, S Corporations are typically entitled to invest in mutual funds and stocks. Don’t forget that you should always be thinking of ways to expand your offerings to new markets based on emerging trends. Having both a big-picture approach and a mind for detail is a winning combination
Build Your Sales Funnel
A sales funnel, or purchasing funnel, is a tool for visualizing a customer’s journey with your brand. The top of the funnel is usually called the “awareness” stage. A well-planned advertisement campaign is needed to build brand recognition among consumers. This translates into lead generation gained through genuine interest in your offerings.
In our digital age, having a strong social media presence is vital. So is having a landing page for customers that’s both informative and acts as a call to care about the vision of your company. Build your brand iconography using the science of text layout and color psychology. It’s all about making yourself memorable to customers.
Businesses are as diverse as their owners. There’s no one right way to start building a company, but there is a right way to approach the task: Think critically and keep an eye on the future.