Starting a business isn’t just a way to make money. It’s also about individual freedom and control.
To be successful, a startup needs a foundation that focuses on moving the business smartly in the direction you want it to go.
We say smartly because it’s easy to try something to see if it catches on before trying something else that may be 180 degrees from what you just did, causing heartache, loss of time and resources.
Part of your approach should be to consider what separates you from competitors in the same sphere?
For example, if you’re in the traditional retail space, selling all types of knick-knacks that your customers may find elsewhere, why would they want to shop at your location instead?
On the other hand, perhaps you offer individualized items or have a fantastic place in a high-traffic area. Again, however, these are more location-dependent than an actual product difference.
Still, those alone may not be enough to differentiate your business from any other.
Getting your small business up to the level you want it to be takes time, patience, a little luck, and most of all, a good strategy. Check out the following points to strategize your business for start-up success.
As we discussed earlier, the first foundation is mapping out a solid strategy. A strategy should include what will separate your business from others in the market, how you can make your business profitable, and how you plan to produce and deliver on your sales.
A good strategy should include the structure of your business, systems in place that help make it profitable, and the operations needed to fulfill orders.
Running a business, whether a traditional brick-and-mortar or online shop, requires some level of an online presence.
Part of your strategy will need to consider the overhead for things such as physical space or the cost to building a website that can quickly add to your success or issues of your small business.
The most important stage of your strategy is the type of offering your business will make, finding and retaining customers, creating a sale, and providing them with your offering.
This step includes the product for sale, the cost per item (or service), the logistics of delivering it to the customer, and customer service plans to mitigate and resolve problems in the event of issues.
How you plan to operate your business, from decision making to accounting and fulfillment obligations, will either make it more or less efficient in your business. For example, if you run an online retail shop and have a clunky website that is not user-friendly, sales will suffer.
Deciding on organizing, publishing, and running your online retail store’s website can be costly if you don’t have it set in place correctly. Part of your structuring would include who is responsible for the operation and efficiency of your website, tracking online orders, handling customer concerns, and more.
Now that you have a plan and know the structure of responsibility within your business, creating systems that enhance those plans and structure is the next step.
Do you have a customer service plan in place? How about sales and accounting? Do those departments work together, or is there some impediment to a seamless integration?
Ideally, your systems can be placed automatically, leaving extra time for you to expand your brand and grow your sales.
The final pillar for establishing a successful business has good operations in place.
Operations refer to the physical activity required to make your business function: customer service, marketing, accounting, sales, and logistics. It is the day-to-day function that makes your business run and runs successfully.
Year-over-year more small businesses start than the previous years, and since 2020, the rate of start-ups has exploded, with most new companies being fully or semi-fully online presences only.
Some of the hotter trends in small business start-ups are:
- Personal or Professional Service
- Online Entertainment
- Independent Contractorships
- Online Retail
- Traditional Brick-and-Mortar
Whether your business is a self-employment situation with a 1-person shop, or you plan to have an employee pool, the chance of the business succeeding requires a lot of work, patience, perseverance, and a little luck.
That said, thinking through in granular detail the structure, systems, and operations you may need to have in place will help you determine the profitability of your business before you ever open your doors and give your business the best chance for success.