5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know Before Starting Up

August 6, 2017

Starting a business and launching a new product used to be an expensive endeavor. However, over the past decade or so, the internet has brought with it cheap online solutions for everything from payments and marketing to easily accessible subject-matter experts and information of all types. Together, these things have drastically brought down the cost of starting and running a business.

Unfortunately, these benefits come at a cost. Because the barriers to market entry for so many different types of businesses are so low, there are countless players of all sizes competing for market share in virtually every field of consumption imaginable. 

How can an aspiring entrepreneur navigate the startup landscape and carve out a niche for themselves? 

Do your homework

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Running a successful business by getting all the basics right (and maintaining a high level of operational professionalism and consistency once you’ve launched) is as important, if not more so, than having a great business idea to begin with.

Getting things right involves all of the following:

  1.  Understanding the needs of your audience before launch
  2.  Having an actual launch plan and calendar that you can pace yourself with
  3. Pivoting your product placement, and iterating
  4.  Marketing yourself consistently
  5. Optimizing your operations across every channel (mobile or social media)

Understand your audience

Many start-ups fail because they simply don’t understand their audience, or they misjudge the needs and requirements of their audience. This means that, when starting up, the first thing you need to do is narrow down your target audience.

The easiest way to fail is to try to please everyone all of the time. You should know who your buyers are, and whom you want to sell to. Define your target market, learn everything you can about them, tailor your ads, your product, and even your marketing language and colors with the kinds that work well with your chosen demographic, and start slicing out a clear and well-defined niche for yourself.

You can do this by gathering raw data via surveys, quizzes, and polls. This will help you learn about market trends and customer needs. It will also allow you to market yourself as someone who provides a valuable product (or someone who removes an important consumer pain-point) better or more cost-effectively than the competition. The bottom line here is that once you know what it is that you have to do, and for whom, you can actually go about doing it.

Get your launch plan right

Once you know what you want to provide and whom you intend to target, you need to start thinking about a few operational items before actually launching:

  • What will you name your company?: You can choose an abstract name or one that describes what it is that you do. Avoid names that have meanings or relevance that only you know about, and try to keep your name easy to spell.
  • What channels will you use to reach your audience?: Where do your clients ‘hang out’? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere? Depending on where they are, you will need to create, develop, and then maintain a presence there as well.
  • What is your budget?: Do you have enough of a runway to stay in business for at least six months? What is your worst-case scenario or Plan B in case you run into unforeseen hurdles?

Refine your product iteratively

It is better to launch a low-level product that works than taking forever to perfect it. As long as you provide something that users can use (something that is often called an MVP, or a minimum viable product), you can launch.

However, be sure to have working feedback systems in place so that you can listen to what people are saying about your product. This will allow you to iteratively improve things and add richer features or add-ons over time (or even remove unwanted or unneeded ones). The key to a successful start-up is to bend with the wants of your customers, but not break against the original ethos behind the product that you created.

Never stop marketing yourself

Even if you have a great brand, you need to stay relevant. It isn’t enough to just have a great product or to sell at a very low price; to be competitive, staying relevant and constantly in the minds of customers is just as important. You need a finely-tuned social media strategy that can regularly produce content, engage with users and learn from them, and answer questions and promote products and services on a regular basis to win big dividends in the long run.

Every single point of contact and every client interaction is an opportunity to convey a sense of usefulness, value, and quality to your target audience. Get the basics right each step of the way, and you’ll have a more robust brand name developing for you slowly over time.

Also, if you aren’t on social media, you should be! Your customers will expect you to be – research shows that roughly two-thirds of all consumers use social media for customer service and to learn about new products and services, and they expect round the clock support, information that is relevant and easily accessible, and short response times.

Source: Buffer

On its own, social media will not directly translate into sales. What it does do is promote your business by increasing your brand awareness while helping you to learn more about your clients and users. It also aids in improving customer engagement, all at very low cost. All of these things together can help to improve the pool of your leads, eventually leading to higher sales.

Be an optimization geek

One of the biggest things that you can do to help your start-up grow is to pay attention to the very foundations of your business, beyond just the product itself. Do the following to gain an edge over your competitors:

  • Create relevant content regularly
  • Having easy sharing widgets and plugins installed across blogs, social posts, and ads
  • Use autoresponders
  • Make use of email marketing
  • Automate your consumption of (and therefore the cost incurred of) website and hosting resources
  • Take the time to tweak your brand, your product, and your positioning

Author Bio

Jamie Fuller is a digital marketing executive at AppInstitute. He spends his days building links, creating content, and drinking far too much coffee at one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built).

AppInstitute regularly provides leading publications with app analytics, business data, case studies, white papers and statistics for established publishers across the world. They were named in the top 50 creative companies in England by Creative England.

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