According to the Small Business Administration, over 28M small businesses make up a whopping 99.7% of all US businesses.
People start businesses for various reasons such as the desire to design their own career path, working towards financial independence, have a unique solution to a problem- no wonder small businesses are everywhere.
However, not all businesses succeed; in fact, only about 60% with employees survive at least 2 years, and 50% survive beyond the fifth year.
Avoid being part of this statistic and set it up for success.
Here are seven tips to follow, and you'll be on your way to success.
1. Research your competitors
No matter how brilliant your business idea is, you'll always have competitors. Even those businesses that offer other products or services to your target customers are still competitors.
To succeed, you need to research your competition to find out what they sell and how they sell it and do it continuously.
2. Plan to succeed
A business plan helps you turn your idea into reality. It's the blueprint that'll guide you from the start-up phase through implementation and business growth.
There are different types of business plans.
- An elaborate business plan if you seek investors or plan to put in a huge sum of money.
- A simple one-page business plan gives you clarity of what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.
- Whichever plan you decide to create, having some plan in writing is always better than nothing.
3. Know your operational needs and plan your finances
When starting a business, you'll likely focus on what to sell and who to sell to. Don't fall into that trap, instead consider what you need to keep the business running. It would be best if you had some initial investment to cover your operational costs.
Put up a spreadsheet and list all your start-up costs (licenses & permits, legal fees, equipment, insurance, market research, branding, inventory, trademarking, etc.).
Also include what you anticipate you'll need to keep the business running for at least six months (rent, production, utilities, marketing and advertising, salaries, supplies etc.)
The goal is to estimate the amount of capital you need to get your business off the ground and run before you break even.
4. Start small, think big
Most entrepreneurs are risk-takers, but successful entrepreneurs don't walk blindfolded on a limb.
Instead, they control business risks. They test ideas on a small scale; they build on what works, tweak the promising, and drop disaster ideas.
5. Embrace digital marketing
Every business needs a comprehensive digital presence. At the very minimum, you need a professional-looking website and email and social media profiles.
Email and social media help you engage with your customers and prospects regularly. Digital presence complements your other methods such as word of mouth, networking, and referrals.
The main reason: prospective customers will likely look you up on Google before deciding to do business with you.
6. Keep learning and trying new ideas
Always keep learning and trying out new things. What's profitable today may not necessarily be profitable five years from now. Avoid the "we have always done it this way" kind of rut.
Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and better ways to market your products and services. Customer needs evolve, and your business has to evolve with them for you to remain in business.
Learn about your industry and always listen to your customers.
7. Don't let mistakes demoralize you
The difference between successful entrepreneurs and everyone else is that those who succeed learn from their mistakes and move on.
They don't dwell on failure, curse the bad luck, blame the economy or blame other people for their failure. They look for alternative ways to achieve their goals or sometimes change to a more attainable goal.
Build your business and brand it like you'll own it forever
When you start and build a new business based on your passion and purpose, then chances are you won't sell it someday.
Because with a burning desire to soothe your customer's pain points through delivering and monetising your value, you build a far more valuable business.
Those who start businesses for a quick gain rarely succeed.
Plaster the above seven tips to your mirror, live by them every day of your life as an entrepreneur, and succeed.