Running a business today is a path that many people choose to go down, rather than being a part of a larger machine. It’s not for everyone, and with uncertain economic times it can be tough, but being in control of your own destiny is a definite plus point. You don’t have to rely on a larger company for your job prospects, but at the same time you have to make sure you begin in the right way. When it brings success it is one of the most rewarding experiences, and could well set you up for life.
Although this little guide will differ depending on what your business does, there are some salient points that run through all successful companies, and can be applied to yours!
Firstly, your product. There really is no hard and fast rule as to what will sell and what wont, and marketing can make a lot of difference. In essence though, you need to try and offer what people need, not what you want to sell. That’s easier said than done though, so the best thing is to seek feedback from wherever you can. Be aware that if you become emotionally attached to the idea of one product you might not really listen to people, so try and think objectively and do your research.
Before you start out on your business journey, you need to plan. If you need start-up capital you will have to seek that from a bank or private investor, then plan well how to use it. Make sure you take some advice from professional bodies like UK Trade & Invest or the Institute of Export, and always overestimate your spending rather than underestimate it. Write a plan for your first month, then six months and a year, and try and stick to it.
Marketing is one of the most important parts of a new business, and is one that can make or break it. If you have a great product but no exposure, it will take a very long time to get anywhere. In today’s increasingly technology based world a website and social media are must-haves, and provide your product or service to the world.
Make sure you have a website that is easy to use, simple to navigate around and with clearly listed contact details. If you are selling products online you need to make sure your website has no missing pages, bad links or interruptive adverts and that you use secure servers. You need to do all you can to ensure they are comfortable on your site so they will be prepared to part with their money.
The final part of a successful business is the delivery of the products. Efficient supply chain management will bring together all that is needed to turn your product from raw material to finished, delivered product. For some companies this may entail investing in logistics software that can manage suppliers and manufacturers, or for others it may be product distribution via small delivery teams. Whatever the method of delivery, it needs to be swift and reliable. With online review sites becoming an ever larger part of purchase decisions, you can easily build up a bad reputation. It only takes one really dissatisfied customer to do a lot of damage, so make sure your customer service is good.