Starting a business undoubtedly requires time, effort, and hard work. We won't lie, it's not easy, but if you take the correct steps and focus on the 3 more important elements to begin with, your business startup will grow much more easily, and be successful.
There are hundreds of things you could be doing, but prioritising where your focus lies is the main task in hand. We're going to guide you through the process and provide the best advice we can give when starting a new business.
Research your audience and competitors
Source: PM Intelligence
If you're starting a new business, you'll know the type of industry your business belongs to, but do you know exactly who your target audience is, and who your competitors are? Regardless of whether you think your business idea is entirely unique or not, you're going to have to dedicate some time to research.
Your target market are the people that will decide whether your startup business will survive or not; after all, they're the people that will be paying for your goods and services. The first step in establishing who your target market is, is understanding what you can offer to your customers. Do you sell fashionable clothes? Are you setting up a restaurant focussed on a specific cuisine? Are you offering technology that resolves a problem? Once you know what you can offer your customers, it's much easier to define who they are.
Let's take an example of a startup business who offers vegetarian and vegan products; we know who our target market is, but how do we get to them, how do we engage with them and get them to know us? Research, research, research! According to Statista, 14% of young adults living in Germany are vegetarian, 13% in France, and 11% in Italy (as of 2017). Now that we know some geographical details, we can start to build a bigger picture, enabling us to reach our market in the best way possible – online.
Depending on the type of startup business, you could then break your target audience down into even more specific sectors, e.g. age, gender, marital status, wealth, etc. Statistics are there for a reason, they're not just for fun, and can be really useful when defining your target audience.
We live in a world where most things have been thought of, and most ideas are already out there in the form or shape of a business, but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for your startup business. Researching your competitors is just as important as researching your audience; you don't want them to take your business, so how can you be different? Don't be afraid to get in touch with your competitors to find out more, see what they have to offer, and identify a niche in the market that you can hit. Using our example above, there are likely many vegetarian and vegan retailers, but do they all offer free worldwide delivery? Try to consider every possibility and put yourself in your customers' shoes – what would you want from a similar business, and how can you offer it?
There are literally billions of people using the Internet each and every day, so not having an online presence would be entirely detrimental to your startup business. Now, you're probably thinking, how can I afford to hire a website designer when my business is only just getting started? The Internet is a wonderful thing, and has grown into a place where almost everything is possible.
You no longer need to have coding skills to build a website, or be a technical genius to get your website online, but having a website (especially if you're selling products and services) is a must! Using a popular content management system (CMS) like WordPress, or many other website builders, you can simply drag and drop elements and features to create a professional looking website. Most CMS platforms provide free and premium themes and templates to choose from, so you don't have to start entirely from scratch.
Once you've setup your business online, there are a few key features you should integrate with your website, or sign up to in order to expand your online presence, encouraging more traffic and leads to your website:
- Google My Business: Sign up for free to Google My Business to allow Internet users to find your business' contact details. As well as enabling your customers to contact you, you'll also be improving your local SEO, so if your business focuses on a specific geographical location, you'll show higher up in search engine results when people search for keywords related to your business.
- Social media: Yes, you'll need to dive into the world of social media whether you like it or not – with billions of potential customers, it would be silly not to. Having a social media profile for your business is essential to improve your SEO, as well as engaging with your customers. Once you've setup your social media profiles, make sure you actually use them – they're a great resource to post interesting and shareable content, increasing your customer base, and building a trusted rapport with them.
- Mobile design: Make sure that you have a mobile version of your website; over half of people using the Internet worldwide are accessing it from their mobile devices. If a potential customer lands on your website using their mobile phone or tablet, and they can't use the website because it isn't optimised, they're going to abandon the page and go elsewhere. Most professional web designers, or website builders, will enable a mobile-friendly version of your website. If you're not sure if your site is built with mobile in mind, you can use free and helpful tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.
Collaborate with others
We understand that most business startups don't have the funds to hire staff right away; some may be in a position to do so, but others might not be. If you do have the capability to hire staff, you should definitely take the opportunity to do so. Having a coach or a mentor along your business startup journey is the best piece of advice, says Ben Walker, founder of Transcription Outsourcing.
If you can't afford to hire a member of staff, or you're struggling to find the right person for the job, there are literally thousands of freelancers available to start working for you, or helping you, immediately. In fact, there are website dedicated to help freelancers and businesses to collaborate, such as, PeoplePerHour, UpWork, and Fiverr.
Asking for help doesn't mean that you've failed, in fact, quite the opposite – it's hard to reach out to others for support, and is very tempting to go it alone, but the world is full of talent, and you should use it to your advantage.
This is a guest post by Jann Chambers. Jann is a Content Writer at UK Web Host Review. Passionate about researching the latest technologies, Jann provides the latest technology news and hosting provider reviews. You can find Jann on Twitter.