Running a business tends to be a challenging task as it is and the worldwide coronavirus epidemic has undoubtedly changed, or at least influenced, some of the rules.
When it comes to your business, your livelihood, and your finances, it can hit close to home and it is something that can bring you a lot of satisfaction and a lot of worries.
All the uncertainties seem to be emphasized, making the whole process additionally stressful and nerve-racking.
However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Here is a useful, easy-to-follow guide to help you be fully organized and prepared for your business venture, all the while minimizing any potential risks.
Turning the initial idea into a loose business plan
If you are reading this article, it probably means that you already have a business idea that (in your opinion) can be profitable.
Having a loosely-based business plan from the start that is still flexible and susceptible to changes is more important than you might think. It is the first step of developing your business idea and turning it into reality.
This plan will serve you as a roadmap to keep the plan on track and navigate through the whole process.
In all honesty, it can be a hectic and overwhelming process, and having guidelines to help you maintain the desired course can truly make all the difference. A proper plan can save you a lot of time, money, and not to mention nerves and energy along the way.
There are a few things to keep in mind at this part of the planning process:
- the time you are able to invest
- future plans and projections, etc.
Of course, you can’t predict everything and some changes and adjustments will certainly have to be made as things progress. But having the initial plan in mind will aid in keeping you grounded and maintaining your focus throughout this stressful venture.
After the initial calculations, it is time to go into further detail regarding your budget.
Startup capital varies from person to person, but chances are that you will need some additional funding to cover the cost of starting a business.
So research different funding options to determine which one would suit your business needs the best.
Here are some to consider:
- bank loans
- angel investors
- venture capital
- small business loans
- Credit cards with bonuses
- friends and family
- crowdfunding, etc.
All financial decisions are up to you and you want to make sure you’ve made the right ones since every mistake can cost you money.
It goes without saying that starting a business can be a pricey venture, without knowing when (or if) your investment will pay off.
For that reason, it is important to cut costs when possible.
Even the little things can add up and you want to redirect every penny to the things that are crucial for the growth of your business.
Here are a few ways you can cut corners without negatively affecting your company:
- rely on yourself and your skills whenever possible
- make the most of your own time
- look into bartering
- investigate tips on saving energy and reducing the bills, etc.
Making your business a legal entity
There are a few different business structures, depending on your business goals and needs:
- sole proprietorship
The choice of the business structure will affect your taxes and personal liability and determine necessary permits, insurance costs, special requirements, etc.
It could protect your personal finances and help you avoid any legal troubles which are costly and time-consuming.
Market research and target audience
By concentrating on the specific demographic, you’re narrowing your focus and providing yourself with an opportunity to learn their needs and wants.
Your target audience will greatly determine the course of your marketing approach in general. In order to promote your business, it is essential to know your potential customer thoroughly.
Understanding your customer will also allow you to put personal touches on your products/services that you know they will respond to.
Create a strong, recognizable brand identity for your business that is going to stand out among all the others.
An impressive, coherent, and distinct visual identity that your target audience will gravitate to.
Your brand should also reflect in the way you communicate with the customers and the general tone of voice.
Having a location in mind
Real estate agents have it right when they claim it is all about location, location, location.
You want to choose a place that’s a hotspot for your target audience, somewhere accessible, with a lot of foot traffic.
A location can make or break your business.
However, at the moment we are living in a world that is very much determined by the COVID-19 and the safety restrictions that come with it.
For that reason, many businesses are (for most parts at least) online-based.
This can cut the initial cost of starting a business since you don’t necessarily have to spend money on renting a space for your company.
When the situation with the coronavirus changes (or at least stabilizes) and you have some additional cash to spare, you can start thinking about an actual physical store for your business. That is also a great step to expanding the company when the time is right.
Alternative storage options
Being a solely online-based business is not completely cost-free.
Depending on the type of business you are running, you might need to keep your products somewhere other than your home.
If that’s the case, look into storage facilities in Bristol for rent. There are some affordable options that would certainly help with organizing your products.
And the well-organized products will make the whole business operation run more smoothly.
If you decide to rent or purchase a space for your company, don’t forget to do a thorough inspection. Hire plumbers, electricians, contractors, roof experts, etc to make sure everything is in order.
It might seem like an expense but try to look at it as a smart investment.
This is a great way to prevent any new and unexpected costs and to spare yourself of any unpleasant surprises in the future.
The online presence
Your company’s website has to be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and engaging. The customers should enjoy the visit to the website, prompting them to come back.
However, a well-designed website is just the beginning, and the task of establishing a strong online presence requires ongoing involvement.
Its proper protection is crucial since it can contain some sensitive information and also, if it’s your only source of income, you can afford for it to crash or malfunction.
A good marketing strategy is a key to success
Since a lot of companies are operating on an online-based level more than ever before, that means that the marketing strategies have gone through some changes as well.
As a matter of fact, it is an aspect of this whole process that tends to evolve rapidly and for that reason, it is crucial to stay on top of it at all times.
If you are new to the vast and ever-changing world of marketing strategies, you might not be familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
So, what does this term represent?
It is actually quite simple, SEO is a process of optimizing your website in order to increase its online traffic.
The way this works is by carefully choosing keywords that would manipulate the algorithms of the selected search engine. In other words, these keywords can persuade the search engine to offer your website as an optimal solution to the customer’s inquiries.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
The key is to think quality, not quantity when selecting the keywords to improve the ranking of your website. Putting too many can have the opposite effect, as the search engine would perceive it as spam rather than quality content. So, make sure that your keywords are well-thought-out and relevant.
If you are still unsure how to approach this marketing strategy, there are certain SEO services that can help you manage your online presence in the most efficient way.
Relying solely on your main website just won’t cut it in this highly competitive business world. That main website should be connected to at least one, or preferably more social media platforms.
Social media marketing has taken the marketing world by storm.
Since so many people are on one or more social media platforms, it is the most direct way to reach your customers. It is an extremely effective, not to mention, affordable marketing approach.
And there are new platforms (such as TikTok) constantly being created. As soon as you jump on the bandwagon of popularity you can take full advantage of the buzz the new platform is generating.
You probably already know the impact a viral video can make. Just imagine what it can do for your business!
At the end of the day, using social media as a way to promote your business does require some effort and careful strategizing.
However, it is a marketing strategy that is fun and approachable, especially if you learn the unspoken rules and master the competitive social media game.
When done right, customers respond very well to this strategy. It makes them feel connected with their favorite brand. Everyone likes to feel like they are being heard and validated. That is something that social media has to offer.
Other than social media DMs, there are still some, perhaps more traditional, ways to conduct customer service.
Email customer service has to be up to date, responses should be quick, and the email itself should be customized.
Phone support is also still a valid form of customer service even though it has taken a backseat in the past several years. That being said, some customers still prefer the notion of talking on the phone, with an actual person that could solve their potential problems instantaneously, rather than waiting for a response via DMs or emails.
You might be worried about issues regarding international calls but you don’t have to be. There is a simple solution in the form of a virtual phone number that will provide you with an international presence from anywhere in the world.
Knowing when it is time to grow
Since you are limited by various factors, a well-timed expansion is a key to success.
Now, that could get a bit tricky. If you expand too soon you are risking money loss and setbacks. However, if you wait for too long, you are wasting potential lucrative opportunities and gambling with the prosperity of your company that has outgrown its previous capacities.
Try to do it gradually, through collaborations, promotions, partnerships, etc in order to avoid customer churn
Assemble a team
If you started as a small, one-person company, one of the tasks you will have to eventually consider is gathering the right group of people to help you grow your business further and take it to the next level.
The main task is to build a team that is trustworthy, innovative, and hard-working.
To maintain productivity it is important to keep an eye out for so-called time wasters in the workplace.
On the other hand, don’t forget to make sure your team knows they and their hard work are appreciated and valued.
As the recent global pandemic showed us, we, more than often, can’t control the circumstances that surround us. However, we can, without a doubt, control our response to them.
In that sense, all is not lost and it is definitely not impossible to start your business even now, in this chaotic situation that we are faced with.
We can choose to adapt and change according to the new rules.
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