The First Two Years Of Your Small Business – The Roller Coaster Ride
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Starting your own business takes a lot of guts, making it grow is another story. Not only do you need to trust the viability of your big idea, but you also have to muster perseverance, patience and grit.
If you’re an entrepreneur struggling to make your new business work, do not lose faith. It can get really shaky in the beginning, it may take months or even years before you can finally say it is stable.
Like a tree, it takes time before the roots are firmly and deeply planted. It takes a long while before it can yield strong branches and healthy leaves.
Just because you were able to successfully launch your business, doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. There will be up times as much as there will be down times. Aside from preparing your mind on what might happen, you need to be prepared emotionally too.
Read on and hopefully, some of these tips can help you along the way:
1. Keep learning
As an entrepreneur, you need to step up your game and require yourself to learn. Launching your business is one thing but making it stay afloat is another task altogether.
Your comprehensive knowledge about your product or service is unarguably valuable, but now, as the owner, you need to stay on top of the game. You also have to educate yourself in other matters of equal importance - marketing, taxation, state laws, and employment compliance to name a few.
Educate yourself, keep learning. Enroll in short courses or be self-taught through books and online resources. Acquiring relevant knowledge enables you to have a 360-degree perspective of your business and the industry you belong to. It makes you a better strategist and a decision-maker. It can also save you from future mishaps brought by ignorance, errors you could have avoided if only you “did know”.
2. Have products/services with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
What do you have that your competitors don’t? What unmet customer needs are you trying to satisfy?
If the answers to these questions are unclear to you, you may need to evaluate what you offer. Because no good strategy is sustainable if, to begin with, your product or service is not good and compelling enough for customers to patronize.
Moreover, knowing your USP steers your marketing efforts in the right direction. Know what sets you apart and build on that. Worst scenario, change or improve your products and services if need be.
3. Identify your Sales Funnel
Some entrepreneurs, miss the opportunity to strategize on their sales funnel. Not having a well-thought sales funnel is the very reason the first two years is a roller coaster ride. They realize their mistakes later on and take time implementing the changes.
The Sales Funnel is a multi-step process showing the customer journey from awareness to purchase. It is usually composed of 4 main aspects and can be customized based on the type of industry and corresponding customer touch points. Others even include ‘repeat purchase’ as part of the funnel.
Identifying your Sales Funnel from the onset will help you strategize effectively. From building awareness about your brand, to generating leads, turning them into prospects and finally, as customers, you can persuade them every step of the way.
You don’t just wait for your customers to come in, you craft a plan. How do you make your product known? What advertising content can persuade them to consider your brand among others? What will trigger them to buy? The Sales Funnel breaks it down for you, so you can usher your target market to your ultimate goal – purchase.
4. Spot opportunities
Don’t stop when you see a dead end. There are numerous ways to thrive and endless opportunities to keep your business afloat.
Widen your imagination and increase your optimism so you can spot opportunities that can open bigger doors for you. Don’t get stuck with what you have in the beginning. For example, check other avenues where you can sell your products, discover other platforms where you can advertise and reach your target market. Assess your business model and see if it needs modification. Should you join trade fairs, online forums? Should you invest in social media ads? The opportunities are endless. Be brave to take the risk.
5. Build customer relationship
Don’t just go after the sale, go for building lasting relationships. Having loyal customers is what differentiates start-ups from successful big-time companies. Successful big-time companies knew that they need to get their customers hooked for them to come and avail their services again. You should keep this in mind too and focus your efforts on this key area on the first two years of your business.
Build memories with your customers as you increase your database. Identify customer touch points, where and when do you interact with them? How can these moments be special and memorable?
Starbucks is a good example. People pay for higher-priced coffee not only because of good coffee but also because of the experience. There’s a brand affinity. The barista calls you by name, the experience is personal. Moreover, the employees are business partners and are empowered to make immediate decisions like replacing a customer’s beverage if it accidentally spills.
Good customer service will yield great results for your business. Your brand will be remembered not only for the quality of the products or services you offer but more importantly, for the experience. Expect positive word of mouth as a major benefit.
6. Build strategic partnerships
Surround yourself with the right people, may it be personal or business-wise. Stay around supportive friends who will get real with you but will not pull you down. Avoid the pessimists. Building a business is difficult already as it is, aim to stay free of negative vibes that can add to the load.
Attend networking events. Mingle with people in your industry who can help you grow your business and you can also help, in return. Learn together, encourage each other and be ready to rescue one another in case the worst happens.
7. Maximize digital
One of the less expensive ways to build brand awareness is through social media. With more than a billion Facebook users, a chunk of your target market is surely out there.
Identify which social media platform is used by the majority of your customers. Curate digital content specifically for them. Generate leads and tap them even after their online interaction with you (send SMS, e-mail, invite them to your event). Captivate them with limited time offers and promos.
There’s so much you can do with digital for less than what you would usually pay for on tri-media. It also allows more interaction, thus, persuasion to purchase is easier and faster.
8. Know your competitors
Don’t be afraid of your competitors, face them. Knowing who you’re up against, will make you win and stand out in the market. Research on what they have and don’t have, think of how you can become better. When you’re monitoring their pace, you can always be one step ahead. For as long as you stay ethical, then that’s all right. It’s a friendly competition after all.
9. Be socially responsible
Think of the long-term impact you want your company to have in your community. Beyond what you sell or offer, what are the values you want to uphold? How can you become more socially relevant? Brands who care more than revenue, tend to have more staying power and gets to be more loved by customers.
You cannot manage something you cannot measure. Always set your metrics and timely evaluate them. Conduct a pre-mortem before implementing a new strategy and likewise, a post-mortem once all is done. Change your strategy if needed, keep trying even if you fail the first time around.
Do not be vague about what you want to achieve. Be specific with your goals and objectives and roll them out to your team. Along the way, you will gain what experience can only teach you. You can identify which action plan does work and which does not. Which you should do again and which you should avoid. By measuring your performance and converting your data into information, you now have an actual basis on how to successfully run your company.
There are many other ways to grow your business. And even if it gets tougher by the day, keep going!
Remember, nothing is too hard for a person who has a dream and is determined to achieve it. Eventually, your business will be where you want it to be and you will realize that all the lessons you’ve learned along the way have made you a better entrepreneur, more importantly, a better person.
For now, cherish the ups and downs, every single bit of it – enjoy the rollercoaster ride!
If you are or know someone with a disability that is interested in starting your own business, Portals LLC is here to help. Give us a call today or fill out our contact usform and we will get back to you.