Starting a business – 5 things to get right
Launching a business can be easy. Keeping it going? That’s a different matter, and there are lots of potential pitfalls out there if you don’t go into it with a) your eyes open, and b) a plan. So what do you need to watch out for to build a really successful business? Blackpool Unlimited’s Kriss Wilson explains.
Over the past few years, I’ve helped hundreds of business owners across the Fylde Coast turn big ideas into successful businesses. Many of them continue to thrive. Some of them are doing astonishingly well. But the brutal reality is that not every business survives. According to The Telegraph, 20% of new businesses won’t make it through their first year.
I really should stress, that’s no reason not to start your business. But it is an excellent reason to take the time to understand some common pitfalls so you can avoid them.
1) The need
Even the biggest companies are sometimes caught out launching a product that virtually no one wants.
But how do you know that the product or service you’re going to offer will reach an audience that wants it? And how do you know there’s room for you? If the market is already saturated, finding your niche could be difficult.
The key is research. Market research (that is, getting out there and asking your potential customers what they think) can be incredibly valuable in finding out whether people are likely to want what you have to offer. And competitor research can help you find out what everyone else is doing so you can choose a different route.
2) The money
Not every business costs serious money to launch. But some do. And even those that don’t require significant capital to get off the ground still need to pay their way and pay your rent.
I spend a lot of time talking to new business owners about budgeting and business plans and they are essential for a whole range of reasons, but finance is a key one. Where will the money come from – particularly in the first year as you get established? What if things don’t go according to plan? What’s the state of your financial reserves and, if you don’t have any financial reserves, what are your grant and loan options to help you through the lean spells?
Sorting the answers to these now can prove priceless down the line.
Of course, your most important source of income should be the products or services you sell. But what price will you sell at?
Pitch your process too high and everyone will look elsewhere. Pitch too low and you may not cover your costs. Again, research – and a little independent advice – can be key.
3) The marketing
Not every business needs a huge launch campaign (although, if you have the resources, some expert marketing help can add rocket fuel to your sales). Boil it right down, though, and marketing is really about letting people know you’re there and encouraging them to buy from you.
To do that, you could throw everything at the wall and see what sticks: a website and a bit of social media here; some paid ads, mailshots or events there. But successful businesses won’t be so haphazard about it. They’ll have a marketing strategy to make sure what they do has a purpose, so they don’t waste money, and so the money they do spend gets results.
4) The quality
I’m not just talking about what you do – the things you create/design/build/fix/supply/maintain, although they certainly need to be of sufficiently high quality to be worth the money.
I’m talking about the quality of how you do it: how you treat your customers. How you encourage them to come back again. How you treat and train your staff. When reviews about everything are everywhere, doing the right things in the right way can win you lots of friends – and they can be essential in ensuring your business grows.
5 ) The skills
There are two types of business owner: one who doesn’t know everything but, because they’re the boss, pretends they do. And the other who also doesn’t know everything, accepts the fact, and surrounds themselves with people who are smarter than them at specific tasks.
Guess which business owner tends to be the more successful?
That doesn’t necessarily mean going to the expense of hiring key members of staff (although it certainly could mean that). It can also man talking to peers (perhaps at a networking meeting), bringing in some occasional freelance expertise, or seeking expert business advice from people who’ve been there and done that.
That independent, honest feedback can be essential to giving your business the very best chance of surviving not only year one, but thriving for years to come. That’s why so many Blackpool businesses talk to me and the Blackpool Unlimited team. And, as ever, our advice and support are free.
Give your business the very best chance of growing successfully, I am here to help you please get in touch with me. Kriss Wilson, 01253 477147