Starting a new enterprise? It is an exciting time, and nothing makes the entrepreneurial blood pump faster than a new product. You can increase your chances of success if you employ a strategic approach – from the beginning.
Do Your Market Research First
Market research does not have to be a grueling or complex task, but is crucial for understanding the industry in which you plan to get involved. Online research can reveal facts that can guide a successful strategy. Research your competition thoroughly with regard to sales, industry presence, the years in business, number of employees, and other information prior to investing your time and money into a new enterprise.
A Business Plan is a Must
You will never get an investor in your project without a quality business plan. You either need an investor or a strategic partner to help you launch your product or service. Without a business plan, you will be dead in the water. A professionally written plan can be pricey, but there are examples you can find if you are capable of producing the plan yourself. Use a standard format, and ensure that you have all of the elements included in you plan. If you have the funds, invest in a professionally written business plan that includes realistic projections, and information about the competition.
Marketing Your Product
An analysis of your competition is important. You may not have to reinvent the wheel to get sales moving. Large, established firms pay ad agencies top dollar for advertising concepts and strategies, and you can take advantage of their work by analyzing what they are doing. Online marketing is generally less costly than traditional marketing, and is a good starting point for any new enterprise. Your salespeople will need some type of sales collateral that must be available in both soft and hard copies.
Choose Your Target Market
You have an ideal customer or client. Avoid any feeling of desperation, or an inclination to make losing deals just to get a sale. Your product or service is valuable, and if you make shaky deals it can become more and more difficult to deliver. You need the income flowing in the door, but set your price and stick to it rather than giving price cuts.
Don’t Assume You All
You may think you know what your potential customers want, but only surveying them will reveal the actual answers. Take the time to survey your target market and find out what they like/don’t like. This data opens the door to clever marketing strategies that actually work. The results of a survey often come as a shock, and your assumptions may have been completely off the mark. You won’t know until you ask. Don’t assume you know.
Keep Your Overhead Down
Investing in an office space, equipment and hiring personnel will eat up your investment funds faster than you can imagine. Keep the number of employees at the lowest possible minimum as long as possible. Stay lean and mean through the early stages and beyond. Any area where you can cut costs – do it. Any new enterprise generally costs much more than predicted to get off the ground, and if you manage your costs correctly, you can make it through the birth process without having to fold – which many startups do when investment funds run out.
You need to protect your employees from harm, as any legal threat puts the whole enterprise in jeopardy. Study up on the safety requirements for your industry. One premises liability claim can put you out of business before you get your enterprise off the ground. If your business involves driving, delivery trucks or other types of transportation, make sure any company vehicles are in good repair and all systems are maintained and repaired if needed. Train all new personnel on issues such as sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior – these can be expensive legal cases.
Sketch it Out
Put your workflow process in writing. Many new enterprises fail when they get through the initial launch and are then unable to deliver the product. The manufacture of any product can be complex, particularly when working with overseas companies. Map it out, and don’t sell more than you can produce. Your service and delivery are the most critical point in whether you will have a repeat customer. Take the time to sketch out your workflow process with every potential glitch, bug or slowdown area identified in advance and processes put in place to resolve issues such as late delivery of components or customers that cancel orders. Expect the unexpected and you’ll deal with these events better.