Starting your own business is exciting; chances are it’s something you’re super passionate about, is going to fill a gap you’ve identified in the market and, on top of that, there’s a lot to be said for the freedom of being your own boss. The world is your oyster.
However, 50% of all new businesses fail within five years and 25% don’t make it past the first year so it’s important to get it right from the beginning. Here’s five top tips to keep in mind when first launching a start-up business:
Create a strong business name
Choosing the right name for your business can be crucial for your success. It needs to be easy to pronounce, easy to spell, memorable and unique. Words are important; think about how it sounds when you say it out loud. Imagine someone saying it on the radio, on television or in a conversation. Think of how you’re going to make it stick in people’s memories.
If there is a connection with your industry, a way of conveying a message or using a word with meaning, that can be helpful. Don’t try to be too vague but remember that if you’re too niche and specific (i.e. Green Smoothie Van), it’ll be hard to change your business direction later down the line should you want to expand. Make sure you can get the web and social media handles for your name (the more specific and close to your name, the better) – otherwise you’ll struggle to get your name out there when it comes to effective online marketing.
Don’t try to be too vague but remember that if you’re too niche and specific (i.e. Green Smoothie Van), it’ll be hard to change your business direction later down the line…
Keep an eye on your initials or word associations – both within your current country and places you’ll be looking to expand. Ensure you can trademark your name and protect it legally. It’s also important to think about how it’ll show in Google; if it is very general, it’ll get lost amongst the thousands. If it’s more specific, it’ll be one of the first to show up.
Do your market research
Chances are you want to keep your amazing business idea as a closely guarded secret for fear of someone else swooping in and copying you. However, businesses don’t exist in isolation and knowing your market and the customers you will be serving is crucial.
It’ll save you making some big mistakes at the very beginning and may even change the direction you take your venture. It’ll probably also save you money. Start your market research as soon as possible; decide what questions you need to ask, how you’re going to collect this information, what analysis you will do with your findings, and what you’ll do with the results.
Questions to think about include: how much demand is out there for your product or service? If there aren’t obvious competitors, is there a reason why your idea hasn’t already been done? Perhaps it has but it wasn’t useful enough or the demand was too small. It’s important to learn from other people’s mistakes so you don’t make them yourself.
- Who are your potential customers?
- What are they prepared to pay?
- Have you chosen the right business name, branding and imagery?
- How often will they pay for your product or service?
- Will they recommend it to a wider circle?
Essentially you need to find out what the market thinks about you; if it’s all positive then bonus – you’re onto a winner.
Businesses don’t exist in isolation and knowing your market and the customers you will be serving is crucial.
In terms of how you’re going to reach people, you can try meeting people on the street, sending out surveys via newsletter or social media, speaking to focus groups, speaking to existing clients to find out their expectations and using the Internet for research. Be brave and find your voice; it’ll surprise you what you learn and how much extra confidence it will give you in your idea.
Size up the competition
It’s also important when doing your research that you get a sense of how you’ll be positioned within the market and what other companies you’ll be up against. Take a look at the businesses around you – health, wellbeing and fitness are all growing rapidly with many key areas expanding globally.
- What are other people doing?
- Is there anyone else doing what you’re doing?
- If they are, then how will you stand out?
- Can you offer the same service but in a better way?
Before Facebook, there was Bebo – and look how the blue giant has since stolen the show!
Even if there are brands out there that you would consider a competitor, remember that everyone started somewhere once. Before Facebook, there was Bebo – and look how the blue giant has since stolen the show! The key is to keep what you’re offering unique and always remember what sets you apart from the crowd. Be original – imitation may be the best form of flattery but chances are it won’t propel you into the stratosphere of success.
Know your USP
It’ll be the make and break between whether people go to you or anyone else doing something similar. It’ll also be crucial when you’re pitching to investors as they’ll want to know what makes you so special that they should put their time and money into what you’re doing. USP stands for ‘unique sales proposition’.
What is it about your company that customers won’t be able to get elsewhere? Once you know your angle, ensure you consistently stick to it. Write it down and frame it in your office if necessary.
Once you know your angle, ensure you consistently stick to it.
Define your target audience
Just as important as knowing what makes you unique is knowing who your customer is and why they’ll be shopping from you. It’s important to know what problems you are solving for them. How clearly will they know this? It’s also important to know the different types of customers you’ll be attracting.
Write a list that covers their:
- Spending power
- Market sector
- Interests, etc.
- How can you target your offering to them in a way that will catch their eye?
- What else are they spending their money on and can you optimise on this?
The more you know about them, the better you can serve them. It’s also important to think about where you’re going to start – will you target everyone to begin with, or will you start with one area and gradually grow to include more customers?
The more you know about your customer, the better you can serve them.
For example, you may want to begin a vegan fashion business – perhaps you will start with a clothing range for women and then you will grow to include men and children. Or maybe you’re running a gym with classes geared more towards women, but eventually you want to include more male-oriented classes and encourage younger and older audiences through your door too.
Sign your business up to Green Contact Book (click here) now to take advantage of your free B2B listing in our health, wellbeing and fitness directory. For more information on our bespoke branding, marketing and PR consultancy packages, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.