Question: Are there any tips you can share in launching my new business?
Answer: There are many sources of hints, tips, and techniques for launching a new business. Dave Kerpen. CEO, Likable Local, shared some of his tips in a recent blog.
When planning your venture identify a focused market segment, a niche, you can service where there are fewer competitors, where barriers to entry are higher and where you will be selling your product or service based on value delivered, not dollars per hour or price alone. The agility of a small business allows it to “bob and weave” as the dynamics of a niche market as it experiences changes.
Most people buyout of differentiation. In building your business model, you need to focus on how you differ from others who are vying for the same business. Is it your experience in the market, your approach, the skills of your team, your location, your ability to offer your service through a variety of different approaches? Whatever it is, highlight your differentiators in developing your brand.
Make a face behind the brand visible People buy from other people. You can spend thousands of dollars developing a logo, brand image, but people who buy from you want to know is who is behind the promotion.
When customers and potential buyers interact with your brand what values do they attach to it? Brands are perceptions, and they live in the mind of the buyer. They are how they see you and your business. Step back from the logistics and operations of your business and ask yourself what is the perception you want buyers to hold when they interact with you? Reliable, dependable, provider of value, trustworthy, knowledgeable. After you have determined what they should be periodically tested, with customers, whether your brand is delivering those values.
If you are planning to start up your business with others, you need to consider all the benefits each person brings to the venture and evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses to assure they are complimentary to yours. Your business partners may be long time personal friends which make the challenge evaluation more daunting. In the case of a friendship, do your analysis to determine if they would be appropriate partners before you begin any serious dialogue. That way you avoid ruining a good friendship if they don’t have the requisite characteristics.
Small business success is all about staying focused and being strategically centered in your planning process. Being strategic means: leading, analyzing, questioning, planning and collaborating. It means understanding where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow and how you are going to get there.
Learn to Say No!
There are two mantras of small business success: managing cash flow and staying focused. Where most small enterprises get lost and the crash is when they lose focus and take on either more than they are capable or take on more than their cash flow will support. Anytime a client asks if you can help out by taking on one small project that is not in your mainstream, you risk losing focus and therefore control.
Entrepreneurship is lonely especially if you are a sole proprietor. Even if you are a start-up with employees, you need to think about having a peer support group that can provide you a sounding board for ideas, issues, problems, and risk assessment. They might be from a networking group or your local Chamber of Commerce. They should be people you feel comfortable reaching out to on a regular basis or an as-needed basis.
When starting out you don’t need a Board of Directors, but having a group of advisors that meet with your on a regular, but the periodic, basis to review the status of your business, test your objectives and assure that the planning assumptions that formed the basis of your business plan are still in place. A Board of Advisors can help you think through issues that are impacting your forward progress and even advise you if you are not on track.