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Do you a great business idea but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. You are not the only one. Building a business from scratch is not for the faint of heart. It can be challenging if it is your first venture. It requires a lot of planning, determination, and dedication to making your first venture successful. In this article, we are going to share the top 12 business tips that every aspiring entrepreneur should be aware of to get a business up and running.
Before you start with your new venture, make sure you have a proper business plan in place. Business Link and Business Development Bank of Canada have some great templates that you can use. We cannot underestimate the importance of proper planning, as these decisions are key to how your business takes shape.
A business plan includes your mission statement, a description of your business, a list of your products and services, an analysis of the current market and growth opportunity, a list of decision-makers, and a financial plan. It is such an important roadmap, detailing the steps for a successful launch and expansion, and a reference document for potential investors.
If you are going to give yourself the best chance to be successful in business, build for the long term. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners focus on the short term. You should look at a business more than just another source of income. Instead, build a business that is going to last for years to come.
Your business should have a higher purpose than just making a profit. Build for the long term and have a strong mission. Knowing your purpose will make it easier for you to go through hard times.
So focus on providing a better quality product or a better service than your competitors. If you can do it consistently over time, then it is easier for you to keep your clients and get new business through referrals.
If you cannot offer a better product or service than your competitors, then it becomes harder for you to compete. Always focus on high-quality services or products! The rest will follow. You can’t do much for your customers if you are short term oriented by delivering average services and products.
The second business tip is to focus on a niche. If you are not focusing on a niche, that means you are going after a broad market. You will compete against a lot of businesses. This is where market research is such an important part of identifying your niche. Your audience will be the driving force behind all your decisions.
Knowing your target audience is key to understanding who needs your product or service. You can then fine-tune your offerings and ensure that your marketing strategies can target the right people. For example, is your venture a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C)?
What is the target demographic of your customers? Age, gender, income, profession, location, etc? The more information you have on your customers, the more you can customize your services and products. You cannot be profitable without your customers and understanding what they need is a priority. Offer them what they want, not what you want.
Try to differentiate yourself in terms of the quality of your products and services. Try to avoid niches that are seasonal or not popular year-round. If you focus on a niche that is popular throughout the year, then you can generate tons of leads.
Compete with your pricing structure while at the same time knowing your value proposition. Be laser-focused on your mark-up. If your prices are too low, then you will not make a profit. Remember, profit is key to your long-term success. If your prices are too high, you may not be competitive in the marketplace.
One of the most important questions, when you start a business, is to know the reason for starting it. The WHY. Is it just to have another source of income or a side-hustle? As we have seen previously, if your sole focus is to generate additional income, then you will not last. Instead, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish with your business. What problem are you trying to solve in the marketplace with your business for your customers?
In order to know that you need to know what is your client’s pain point. If you know what problem you are solving, then you can build your product and service around it. And hopefully offer a better product or service than your competition. It’s much easier to gain a strong customer base when your business is solving a problem. Fill a hole where you can see one in your niche market. Understanding your motive will also help you build your brand and market your company.
Having a great product is a necessary but not sufficient condition to build an amazing business. What makes great businesses different from average businesses is that they focus on consistently high service consistently. If you go above and beyond what your customers are looking for, then they will be happy and they will come back. This is a long-term effort and should be a part of your business goals and objectives. Not just part of your mission statement or some grandiose statement. Make it part of your company’s DNA and make sure your team members adhere to it.
If your customer is not happy with your product or service, don’t take the criticism personally. Instead, try to listen to what they have to say by mirroring the intent behind their words. Work on coming to a resolution that fulfills the needs of your client and let them know that they are being heard. If they leave you a critical review on Google or Yelp, don’t be mad at them, instead address it professionally with authenticity and professionalism.
Take it as a learning opportunity about your product, service, process, and pricing. An authentic and proactive response can help you keep the unsatisfied client or attract new ones. Remember, it will not always be perfect and you will have unhappy customers. It is just part of being in business. Make it a mission to have an obsessive focus on your customer’s needs.
One weakness of a lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs is that they focus a lot on revenue. You will often hear them saying that they have made so much revenue in a week or a month. If you dig a bit deeper, you will notice that profit is much more important than revenue. Profit is simply the difference between your revenue and your cost. It is the key to any successful business.
A business may generate great revenue, but if it cannot make a profit, then it will not last. If we go one level up, the amount of profit you make (accountants call them margin or mark-up) is even more important. That is an area that business owners should be laser-focused on. Know how much money you are making every month. If you are not making a profit, understand the reasons.
Another area that business owners have to focus on is controlling the costs. Again, a business can have great revenue, but if it does not have a handle on its costs, then it is difficult to generate a profit. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help or take an accounting course online if that will make it easier for you to understand your business finances. Remember again, you are building for the long-term and you must understand your numbers to gauge the performance of your business.
Another mistake that a lot of business owners make is that they have too many products or services when they start. Instead, it is better to start with only a few products and broaden the range over time. If you provide a few products or services, you can specialize and build credibility and authority.
If you have a narrow focus, you can build a loyal audience over time who knows what to expect from you. It also allows you to define your clients, and you can target them afterward with your marketing.
Amazon started as a bookstore, then expanded into toys, and all kinds of other products, and now they are the standard-bearers for online retail. Once they made a name for themselves selling books, they were able to broaden vertically into other products.
If you have a great work ethic, a vision, and a great product or service, then nothing can stop you. If you have a passion for your business, then you will probably not be afraid of the challenges that come your way. You will find a way to overcome them, no matter what. This is what you signed up for. You are all in or out. It is vitally important that you get into a business that you are passionate about, where you put all your soul to make it work.
You will spend countless hours building your business, and passion will get you through. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks in order for you to live the life that you aspire to. It is the price of being your own boss to live your life the way you want. If you are prepared to put in the hours and you are passionate to solve a problem for your customer, then you are in a good way.
No matter what industry you operate in, you will always have competition. Make sure you research your industry and know your competition. It does not matter how unique you think your business idea is. You need to know the new products and services that your competitors are offering, the prices they are charging, and their promotional strategies. It will surprise you how much you can learn from your competition. If you know what your competitors are up to, then you can better devise your marketing strategy.
On the flip side, if you do not know about what your competition is up to, then you may not fully understand the dynamics of your industry and you may miss on opportunities. We live in an information age; the better the quality of information you can garner about your competition, the more you can incorporate them in your decision-making process. Knowing what is happening in your industry in terms of technologies and regulatory changes will ensure that you are better equipped to deal with changes in your business.
Those who have ideas but do not want to take action will not go that far. It does not matter how great your idea is. If you are not willing to start, you are not going to succeed. That’s a certainty. Only successful entrepreneurs are willing to make the jump. There will always be obstacles when you start. Maybe you don’t have the financial resources, not taking the time to work on your business plan, or simply doubting yourself. Frankly, there are tons of excuses not to start.
To finance your business, there are many financial institutions and government agencies out there (both at the Provincial and Federal levels) that are willing to lend you money or offer you grants respectively. If you truly believe in your idea, then you should give up on making excuses and doubt yourself. Bulldoze your way forward by surrounding yourself with a great team of positive-minded and forward-looking individuals. Make sure you consider all the business tips above.
You will need a support system in place as you build your business. Entrepreneurship does not have to be an independent journey. You don’t have to be an expert at all the aspects of your business, but you will need to know enough about them so you can deal with situations that will come your way.
There will always be situations where you will need help because you don’t have the expertise or experience. That’s where the help of a seasoned mentor comes into play and can be quite handy.
A mentor can simply be a member of your family or a friend who has business experience. If you can’t find a mentor within your family circle or friends, look for one online by networking. There are organizations that offer such support like Nicerr, Platform Calgary Junction Progam, Futurpreneur, and ATB Entrepreneur Centre.
A mentor may help you avoid making some mistakes and save you time. Keep learning from your mentor as you move along on your entrepreneurship journey until you achieve your goals. Learn from your mistakes and be humble and honest with yourself when you make them.
You need to understand the rules and laws that you are operating under. They are not fun, but they are part and parcel of running any business. If you don’t meet your legal obligations, you can face penalties. Different industries require different regulatory requirements; the level of risk differs across industries.
Calculating, understanding, and planning for risk is an important starting and running a business. Get the proper insurance coverage to reduce your risk where you can. Risk management is such an important aspect for new business owners and you should not be afraid to seek professional help.
Starting on a strong legal footing is such a critical business tip. It is important to know the best legal structure for your venture to take care of the paperwork. Make sure you consult with a qualified accountant or legal advisor who can explain the benefits and inconveniences of each type and advise you accordingly.
If you need help to decide on your best business structure, reach out to us. Be aware of your sales, corporate, and payroll tax obligations, and tax deadlines. Make sure also that you keep your books updated and done correctly to avoid costly mistakes. We love to help entrepreneurs at Nexus Accounting by providing top-notch accounting, payroll, and bookkeeping services.
Another important aspect of building your business is to network as much as you can in order to spread the words you have a new business. You can start in the family circle, friends, and former colleagues. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your industry who can offer you guidance and advice. It can be intimidating to tell people you have a new business and thinking about what people will say. That should be the least of your concern. If you want to be successful, you cannot be shy.
Selling is such an important part of any business. Learn how to put yourself out there for the sake of your business. Keep networking within your community and be ready to promote your business with your elevator pitch. Other networking events include attending conferences, workshops, and seminars through your local Chamber of Commerce, professional association, or trade associations. Reach out to thought leaders in your industry by inviting them over to coffee or lunch.
We have seen what we consider the main business tips when starting a new business. Without a doubt, there are more than the ones we have listed above. You probably have a few of your own. The greater your level of awareness of the factors involved in starting a new venture, the better. The ones we mentioned above apply across industries. Some of them will have a more predominant role than others depending on your industry. We have not looked at specific industries to keep it simple.
The information in this blog is not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. You should obtain professional advice from your accountant or lawyer before acting on any information in this blog.