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New small businesses are always popping up, and many Americans have considered starting one themselves. As a matter of fact, a recent GOBankingRates survey found that 40% of people have considered starting their own business. That’s the same as 2 out of every 5 people.
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But starting a business is no easy feat. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, not to mention finding funding and customers. With so many people on the verge of entrepreneurship, we asked experts for their best tips for a successful start. Keep reading to learn what these experts think you should focus on first.
1. Create a Business Plan
There’s more to planning out your business than just coming up with an idea to sell. Firstly, the business will need a name. Then, you’ll have to start thinking about the goals of this new business. Kelly Mosser, a strategist and coach for women entrepreneurs, said to “map out a strategic business plan that centers around tangible realistic goals you can work toward with confidence.” She also recommends creating “micro goals” that are almost too easy to achieve. All of the business decisions will be based around those goals, so take your time. A good plan includes the business’ mission, vision, goals and measurements for success.
Joey Sasson, the Vice President of Sales & Logistics at Moving APT, agrees, but also adds, “be prepared to pivot. As much as you want things to go according to plan, unforeseen challenges and obstacles will always occur. Be flexible enough to implement changes when necessary, but don’t lose sight of your ultimate goals.”
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2. Figure Out the Target Market
When it comes to filling out that business plan, you’ll want to decide who your customers will be. Who will be most interested in the services and/or products that you offer?
Sasson says to focus on the customers. “Your business exists to serve your customers,” he continued, “so, always keep them in mind. Every decision you make should be based on what’s best for them. This includes everything from the products you sell to how you communicate with them.” So if your target market is women in their 50’s, you should tailor your business decisions to maximize engagement with that specific audience.
3. Don’t Assume Social Media Is the Only Marketing Tool
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all great means of promoting your business and communicating with customers. But don’t funnel all of your time and money into social media marketing. “To survive, a small business needs to meet customers in a variety of ways – and that means marketing through different channels,” said Corrie Oberdin, a marketing expert who works with small businesses and nonprofits. “Using your website, a newsletter, your local media, online media, networking, and partnering with other businesses are all ways outside of social media that small businesses can market themselves.”
Sasson also believes in diversifying your marketing strategy. He said, “There are many ways to market a small business, so choosing the right mix of tactics for your company is essential. To do that, you must understand your customers’ needs and figure out where they spend their time.”
4. Build a Great Network
Small businesses thrive because of their communities. Starting out, small business owners should focus on hiring talent with good attitudes, and on developing a network of other entrepreneurs. Mosser says to “find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from so you don’t have to reinvent any wheels. If there’s someone who’s a few steps ahead of you, reach out to see if you can pick their brain over coffee.”
When it comes to your employees, Sasson says, “Your small business is only as good as the team behind it. Surround yourself with people who are passionate about what they do and who share your vision for the company. When you have the right people in place, even with the hurdles you’ll face, you’ll be able to overcome them.”
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