Getting a business off the ground is hard work and entails many sacrifices. A mentor to guide you as you take your first baby steps would surely help. If you’re on your own, it matters greatly to know the why and how of taking actions and being clear of what steps you should take in an orderly fashion. You need to have a solid plan that is still flexible to adapt to the times, a definite idea of your product, your market and competition, your goals and your vision and your strategies to make your startup business worth it.
Your focus should be on your product. Your goal is to offer people what they want to buy, and not only because you want to sell something. It will not hurt you to offer something that already has a proven market rather than introducing a product that you think might be successful (unless it is really revolutionary that it will rock a specific industry sector). You can sell a generic product and then slowly build your business to create a niche market by specializing in one category.
Online presence is needed to be competitive. It can tie up all your other efforts to get your name out there, build a solid base of customers and let them know about the products or services you offer. There are many free tools for you to create a good website with all the elements necessary to attract attention. Make sure that your site is up to date, so you always have something fresh to offer, even if it’s just featuring a best-selling product or focusing on a slow moving item. Communicate with customers as needed and answer customer queries promptly. Make sure to get the most reliable & steady broadband internet provider as this will determine the pace of your work.
You can convert an empty room in your house, or your garage as your initial office space. Prepare to put it more hours to your business. Forget the frills first. You do not need a fancy office, a large expense account or a brand new car. Look for second hand furnishings that are still in good condition to outfit your office. Watch every dollar that leaves your wallet or your bank account. Maintain an overhead as low as you can and triple-check each one of the expenses you’ve made.
The lifeblood of your business is your cash flow. One way to jump start it is to ask your customers for deposits for products or services upfront, with the balance payable upon delivery. Paying vendors upfront gives you the leverage to negotiate for better discounts. If you can build trust, you’ll find that vendors can offer you creative ways to finance your transactions that can lead to long-term association.
Sales and marketing.
Do not be afraid to seek help from family and friends to get your name out there. Your business will not grow if you do not make a sale. Find good leads to convert into sales. Use tried and true methods, like doing an email blast, posting fliers in friendly establishments and market your product whenever and wherever you can. Learn to encapsulate your business proposition into a short, concise and interesting spiel, so you can do a sales pitch during a chance encounter.
No to discount, yes to value.
While it is irresistible to offer discounts when you’re a startup, it will put a dent early in your bottom line profits and cash flow. A better strategy is to add more value to your product or service instead of giving a discount. If you are selling generic products, think of putting a private label to it. Consider how your product can benefit the consumer. Create a better consumer experience by focusing on helping your customer instead of selling. Be an expert and provide them with professional advice, tips or information that your competition miss out on. Consider bundling and packaging when offering goods or services.
Starting a business is a daunting experience. Learn from your mistakes and equally learn from the success of others like you. If you believe in the product you are selling and you can see good signs ahead, strive more. But also learn when to quit and start all over again.