“Building a successful business takes drive, determination, belief in what you’re creating, bulls**t and charm.”
Richard Branson couldn’t be more right. Running your own business takes a lot of hard work, determination and belief in both yourself and your idea. There’ll be days of doubt and fear and feeling overwhelmed, but it’s important to plough through those days with a positive mind. Only then can you achieve great success.
Whether you’re currently in business for yourself or thinking about setting one up, here are 10 easy steps to building a successful business.
Work on an idea you truly love. There’s little joy in building a company doing something you’re not passionate about because your heart just won’t be in it. You’ll be spending a lot of time and effort and possibly a lot of money on this venture, so make sure it’s something that fires you up and makes you jump out of bed in the morning. Making money shouldn’t be your main driving force either. Build something of value. Contribute. Provide a product or service that will benefit people.
Make sure your product or service is targeted to the right audience. This is what most people tend to get wrong. You must first have a thorough understanding of your offering and what makes it unique. What problem are you solving? Whose problem are you solving? Why should they buy from you rather than your competitor? Research your audience to create an in-depth profile. What are they connecting to? What issues do they care about? Only then can you effectively target the right audience with the right message.
Create a clear strategy but don’t worry about writing a formal business plan. Business Plans can often scare people into doing nothing. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your business and where you want it to go, but it needs to be written in a format that works for you. Besides, businesses change from day to day, week to week, month to month. What you spend hours on outlining now will be nothing like what your business looks like down the road, so don’t let your business plan hold you back from getting started.
You don’t need a shiny new website and business cards to start your business. Launch it today and start making money ASAP. Send an email around to friends and family offering your product or service for a fee. Ask them to share it with their friends and work colleagues. Use these early customers as research to hone your idea. Once you take money for your product or services you’re officially in business! It’s as easy as that. Don’t overcomplicate it by thinking you need all these external things in place before you can get going. You don’t.
Engage your audience. People want value and will spend their money on brands that they connect with, like and trust. If they can identify with what you’re offering then you can build a loyal audience that continues to spend with you. What really draws interest and increased loyalty is free original content with a fresh perspective. This can position you as the expert in your field. Don’t just tell people what you’re offering and that you’re the best. Talk to them as though you were having a face to face conversation with them. Use the information you gleaned from your audience profile to talk about issues they care about. Don’t be afraid to be a little kooky or weird as you need to stand out from everything that’s already out there. Use your website, blog, YouTube, Podcasts and social media to share the content and connect with people who engage with it. Having direct conversations builds relationships.
Market yourself and your business well to convert interest into sales. A few tips to get you started – Find groups on LinkedIn who are offering something similar to what you are or groups where you know your audience will be. Then connect with members individually showing interest in what they do. Once you’ve made a number of contacts set up your own group and ask them to join. You can then direct them to your content. Connect to groups on Facebook and Twitter then follow and engage in conversation with their followers. Do not advertise. Do not leaflet. It doesn’t work! If you have a budget you could try advertising on Facebook. Set your daily spend limit and choose your audience profile.
Get your finances sorted. Firstly have more money coming in that out. Scale how you value and price your products and services. If you want to make £100,000 in year one, how many products/services do you have to sell to make this figure. Break it down by month. How are you going to do this? Perhaps you need to consider offering more in order to charge more. A good tip is to always offer more than what you’re asking people to pay for.
Keep evolving. Don’t over think things. Just do it. Take chances. Make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t feel intimidated by your competitors. Make sure you keep moving forward and be open to change. Don’t listen to others. Trust your instincts. Believe in your idea.
Hire freelancers to do the jobs you’re unable to do. Remember you don’t have to do everything yourself. Look on sites like elance for help with everything from website design to accounting. But be sure to do your research when using these sites and employ someone with experience, a portfolio and good reviews. Often the low price is indicative of the sort of service you’ll receive so don’t expect too much.
Think positively. Visualise and get in the right mind set. Of course it’s completely natural that there’ll be days when you feel on the brink. Pick yourself up when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed; stop what you’re doing and go take some time for yourself, after all that’s the beauty of being your own boss. Go watch a movie or listen to some upbeat music, go cook your favourite meal or better still go meet your friends for dinner. Go back to work when you’re feeling brighter. Your business is a reflection of you so remember to have fun and enjoy the journey because it’s not all about the destination.