Business Start-Ups 101: Looking to the Future
The minds behind start-ups are entrepreneurial, enterprising, and ambitious. It takes a strong will, tenacity, and determination to begin your own business, and this will stand you in good stead when it comes to planning for and executing its future.
It’s okay to dream big. If you didn’t have vision, you wouldn’t be where you are now, so don’t be cowed into thinking that a conservative attitude is necessary for success. You will need to take risks to make it to the big time, and having grand plans is all part of the journey.
If you want a future that’s bold, bright, and brilliant, here is a four-step plan to help you get there…
Step #1: Consolidate Your Customer Base
The core of any business is its customers: these are the people who will help to generate profit, recommend your services or products, and keep the cogs of your company turning. Retention is vital. It’s not enough for them to shop with you once; you need to find ways to keep them coming back for more.
Rewards for their loyalty are one way to do this, and exclusive offers sent straight to their inboxes are a good way to make your business seem more attractive, and will give you a chance to engage with them on a personal level. You could hand these out in-store if you don’t yet have an email list to fall back on. The trick is to make your services or products preferable to your competitors.
Step #2: Expand Your Customer Base
Once you have a solid core of repeat customers to fall back on, work on expanding your client base. The increasing utilisation of the internet for marketing is an advantage that you should hone in on, being much more economical than traditional alternatives.
Begin by looking at your web presence. Most potential clients will search for products or services online in order to find suitable places to buy from. This is the same whether you own a clothing store or a web design business; irrespective, people will look for the most relevant and economical offerings on the internet. They need to be able to find your website in order to even begin considering you, so search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential.
SEO refers to the process of making yourself rank more highly when internet users type certain words into a search engine. If you’re a sunglasses retailer based in Manchester, for example, this might be ‘sunglasses Manchester’. If you are on the first page of results, your website is much more likely to be seen, and the possibility of a successful sale increases.
Your social media channels can also be utilised. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook can be used to not only increase your visibility, but also to build a brand personality and presence. Your customers can use them to engage with you, and the more they interact, the more of their contacts’ pages you will flag up on.
With reference to this last point, you can enlist your current customers to help you in your endeavour. Post incentives on your media to encourage them to use their own pages to increase your visibility, through offering deals such as five per cent off to people who like and share your Facebook posts.
The more visible you become, the more traffic and sales you should gain through your online presence.
Steps #3: Expand into Other Cities
The beauty of the internet is that it allows you to trade all over the world, but bricks-and-mortar stores and offices still have an important role to play, and the more cities you have a ground presence in, the greater your potential client base.
This means that you should start planning potential new locations long before you’re actually ready to expand. Do your research early on, looking at cities with the right demographic to successfully increase your customer base. Consider factors such as the professionals who will live there as well, as they will be the pool of potential you choose from when hiring new members of staff.
Once done, repeat steps one and two.
Step #4: Expand into Other Countries
More ambitious yet, consider whether your start-up has the potential to expand overseas. You can begin testing this with the help of your website, by making it easily accessible to foreign nationals. By this, we mean offering translation options, delivery to other countries, prices that can be displayed in other currencies, and so on. All of these actions will help you to attract a global clientele.
Using the data gained from your website, you will be able to identify where most of your custom comes from. At this point, you may want to start thinking about opening stores or offices in these locations. You will need the help of specialists in the field to achieve this, such as lawyers or agents with an understanding of immigration strategies. These will be able to guide your decisions, making sure that you’re on the right path and working towards profits.
Should you successfully expand, your small start-up will have blossomed into an international enterprise in just four simple steps.
The possibilities are truly endless. Why not start planning your future today?