Have you always known you were going to be an entrepreneur? Or, is it something that surprised even you?
Whether you have had long-term aspirations to start your own business or have only recently decided that this is the right path, you should be proud that you’re finally taking the leap and becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur.
Your life experiences and industry knowledge has provided you with the ability to see a gap in the market that you can fill profit from, but starting a business, while relatively easy to do in terms of administration, is not without challenges.
You will be faced with challenges every single day, but it is how you overcome them that will separate you from those startups that fail.
Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint — most of the decisions you make will have long-term implications.
To help you on your way, here are 4 tips for startup success.
#1 – Set Goals
To succeed in business, you need to focus on exactly what you want to achieve, and so it is vitally important that you set yourself clear goals and objectives to aim for.
You should identify your business goals early on; otherwise, you risk floating closer and closer to complacency, one destination you really don’t want to arrive at.
So, how do you set your goals?
Goals are your destination, where you want your business to go — they should be realistic.
You can revisit your goals as time goes by (for example, a one-year plan, then a two-year plan), but in a young business, you need to make them realistic and achievable.
Carefully thought out and defined goals will give your business the structure it needs to be a success. Goals must be supported by smaller objectives: Targets that you need to reach along the path to your goal.
Both goals and objectives should have clear numbers tied to them — S.M.A.R.T. goals are the way to go.
Goals are also important when it comes to the products or services that you provide.
You will be brimming with enthusiasm for your new business and will see opportunity every which way you look, but be careful that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.
Concentrate your efforts on one aspect of the business at a time, with clear goals, and document where your ideas have taken you; you can always refer back to them at a later date, once you have become a success in the initial leg of your business.
Your ideas for cross-selling and upselling can be implemented further down your entrepreneurial journey — you do not want to dilute your ability to achieve your core goals at this stage.
#2 – Increase Your Industry Knowledge
To enter into your chosen industry, you will have some prior knowledge, otherwise you would not have been motivated to join it; however, if you really want to be successful long term, you need to keep up on the latest trends and cutting-edge techniques in your industry.
You need to not only keep up to speed on industry innovations, but you must also learn who your customers are and learn exactly who your competition is.
Failing to educate yourself in these areas is a surefire way for your enterprise to fail, and it is arrogant to think that you don’t need to.
The products or services you offer may be awesome, but you won’t be able to persuade your customers to invest in them if you don’t know and understand what it is that your customers really want.
If you don’t know what their requirements are, you won’t know how to market to them effectively. But, once you have that information, you need to apply it effectively to your marketing — you need a marketing plan.
Take advantage of this free marketing plan template to ensure you’re putting information about your customers to good use.
There are several benefits to having a deep understanding of your competitors, but the most important benefit is this: It gives you the ability to discern how to be most effective, how to take advantage of their weaknesses and how to take advantage of your own strengths.
Thankfully, with the internet, social media, a the plethora of modern marketing tools available, you will be able to gain access to much of this information, as long as you’re willing to pay the price.
Their website will give you a window through which to look at their products being offered, and the prices that they charge; their social media pages will allow you to study their feedback; what have they been praised for, and more importantly, where have they slipped up.
Their negative reviews will be a gold mine of potential opportunities. Late delivery? Poor customer care? These can closely inform how you build your own stellar service offering and give you the competitive edge.
#3 – Be Nice
In the words of the playwright and entrepreneur Wilson Mizner:
“Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”
These words have never been truer than for the modern entrepreneur. Your startup’s success is dependent upon the relationships that you forge with other people: your customers, your suppliers, your team and your contemporaries.
No matter what behaviors you encounter, you must always be nice and polite. However, this does not mean being a pushover. You can be assertive and nice at the same time, although it can require great skill in some circumstances!
You need to be able to network successfully among your peers and industry leaders, so the manner in which you communicate with them needs to be positive. If you are a pleasure to deal with, people will be more than happy to repeat business with you or give you guidance and advice.
In fact, if you are sincere and likeable, you may just be able to convince an industry leader to mentor you, in which case, your positive attitude will most certainly have paid off!
It is far easier to give this advice than put these strategies in place. Some days, you will be able to adhere to these suggestions in a very natural and easy way; other days it will be a real struggle and challenge.
On those days, you only need one thing: Resilience.
You must learn how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on working towards those business goals.