The world is overflowing with potential entrepreneurs who have the drive and determination to finally take the leap into establishing a small business of their own in an industry they know and love. Finding your niche in a sea of establishments is what will lead to a more productive, profitable and manageable business venture; choosing an industry to delve into and exploiting every business opportunity that comes your way can only lead to success. By taking your time and developing your company gradually, you could eventually turn your high street store into a thriving business empire.
A great example of this is renowned finger pointer and main attraction of the UK TV show ‘The Apprentice’ Lord Alan Sugar; starting a (very) small business selling electronic products from the rear of his truck lead to him owning an empire currently valued at around GBP 770m. From this he developed his knowledge of new products in his niche and took full advantage of every gap in the market. By staying on top of his game and firmly in touch with his target market he has become one of the most famous businessmen in the UK.
Following this pattern is a great way of starting a successful business; start as you mean to go on. Here are a few ideas and tips to consider as you venture into the first year of starting your small business.
Know Your Industry
Starting a business in an industry you know nothing about is only going to lead to one thing; failure. If you do not know and love the product and service you supply then advising potential customers and investors on what’s so great about you and your company is going to be impossible. You must first research the industry you wish to work in, this helps to understand the demand for your product and the strength of any competitors. This can also help to identify a gap in the market either locally or generally (although it’s fair to say there are always online suppliers of any product you can think of). If you are hoping to establish a tangible store or shop of sorts then location research is vital, you may have a large amount of competitors at your desired location so looking for an area with little or weak competition is likely to be more advantageous.
Construct a Business Plan
This is hugely important when looking to impress potential investors and make expansions to your business. Tracking past success and producing desirable revenue projections are the key to winning the favour of investors and bank managers when looking to acquire further funding. An ideal business plan for a starting business should be around 10-25 pages in length, including all statistical information that investors could possibly want to see. Include details outlining your products or services; for example a company that provides solar PV panels may include an effective strategy to tackle the upcoming changes to the government funded feed in tariff.
Conducting market research is a vital part in identifying and tackling any issues as early as possible. Construct a heap of questionnaires to distribute locally or to your mailing list. This will help to get some honest feedback on your products and services, branding, customer service, customer satisfaction and suggestions that they may wish to make. This can not only help identify weak areas of your company but also include ideas that may not have occurred to you in the past. Building a service that keeps customers happy early on is going to build (and if you work hard, maintain) a positive reputation. This can have local benefits with regards to ‘word of mouth promotion’; happy customers may recommend your product or services to friends who may recommend you to their friends, and so on.
Following these helpful hints can certainly improve your chances of constructing a popular and successful small business. Start small, build gradually and always listen to your customers; they are the ones with the money after all.
Written by Daniel Travis – Brown, follow him on Twitter @DanTravisBrown