By Evan Fischer
So you’ve got an idea that you think could make a lot of money and you’ve decided to start a business. Maybe it’s even a great idea. Perhaps it’s so good that despite your lack of experience you’ve managed to interest some investors and possibly even line up a loan. Now what? If you went to business school or you’ve got a good head on your shoulders you probably realize that there are a lot of variables involved in starting and running a business, and not all of them are within your control. Add to that the fact that you’re virtually learning as you go and the situation is rife with occasions for you to drop the ball. But you can avoid some of the most common mistakes if you have an idea of what to expect. So here are just a few ways to steer clear of the snafus that sink other startups.
- Specialize. Finding your niche can be hard, but all you’re doing by jumping aboard a popular bandwagon is ensuring that your company gets lost in all the white noise. You don’t want your business to blend in; you want to grab attention and shoot past your competitors! Having a specialty is essential to piquing the interest of customers, but it’s important to make sure that your product or service is both innovative and in demand. It’s a tall order, but without a niche you may not survive.
- Plan for every possibility. A lot more work goes into planning a startup than actually getting the operation up and running. And while you have probably done some market research and come up with a solid business plan to proceed (or at least to secure funding), you really need to map out a comprehensive strategy that details anything and everything that could go wrong (or right, for that matter) and how you will proceed should certain situations arise.
- DIY online.When it comes to creating and expanding your online presence, something that pretty much every new company should be doing these days, there’s no reason to spend beaucoup bucks on professional services. Take the time to learn the basics and do it yourself (from web design to SEO to online advertising). There are two very good reasons to choose this road even though it won’t be easy. First, it will save you a ton of money. Although you may have to hire out for some flashy extras, you will be surprised by just how much you can get done on your own for free. Second, you need to have a backup plan. Suppose your web designer decides to backpack around Europe for a month and your site goes down, or you need to push updates. If you have the knowledge and skills to handle it your business won’t suffer. And honestly, ANYONE can learn this stuff!
- Choose the right venue. This is true for both the location of your business and where you opt to advertise. If you’re not reaching the right people (or you’re not reaching anyone at all) there’s really no hope for you to be successful in your ventures.
- Engage in branding. What does your business sign say to people? How about your logo? Do the symbols of your business inspire interest, confidence, and a feeling of welcome? What about your employees, your products or services, your business practices, and your standing within the community? What does your business stand for and how can your branding efforts convey that? These are the questions that successful business owners ask themselves (and answer) in order to ensure that customers see them, and more importantly, see them in the right light.