Location? Check. Goods or services to sell? Check. Website? Check. The list of things needed to start a small business could go on forever, or at least it feels that way in the beginning. Don’t let it get to you. Instead, tackle one thing at a time and celebrate your achievements. Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but the rewards are worth it in the end. Need help getting on the right track? Check out the tips below.
It’s critical to research your audience demographics before you begin to develop your marketing strategy. This information will guide all of your business decisions. You have limited time and resources, so you want to make sure you are using them wisely. For example, there are several different social media platforms out there, but few people spend time on all of them and you don’t have time to tailor a message for each platform. Instead, use your audience research to focus your efforts on a few platforms to reach the largest group of people who will benefit the most from your goods or services.
You can do the research yourself or you can hire a professional to perform a more in-depth analysis. The Small Business Association offers this worksheet to help business owners get started on their research. Don’t forget to check out your competition while you’re in research mode, too. The goal is to be the best you can at providing your specific goods or services. You can’t do that if you don’t know what the competition is doing.
While you want to get as much done as possible when you are first starting out, it’s important to pace yourself. Use a schedule to implement various strategies, whether it’s a marketing plan or the unveiling of a new product. It’s best to focus on one thing at a time. This will allow you to hone your skills and become an expert at each strategy. It will also be easier to track the return on investment because if you have multiple plans running at once, how will you know what is working and what needs improvement or should even be discontinued? In addition to wasting time, this could waste money as you take the time to figure out which strategy is working.
Set goals you would like to meet in the first week, month, three months, etc. This will help you stay focused instead of trying every new thing that sounds good. Celebrate when you meet your goals. Acknowledging your success (however large or small) will serve as motivation to keep going when things get tough.
Reach out to your new community and introduce yourself. Use direct mail to target people within a specific radius and announce your business. Invite them to an open house event offering special discounts on your goods or services. Offer snacks and set up games, face painting and other family-friendly activities. This will allow people to get to know you in a different setting outside of you trying to sell them something. Obviously, you want them to buy your goods or services, but you need to build a solid foundation with your potential customers to make them feel comfortable working with you.
Create a photo booth and use special photo folders for the pictures to remind people of the fun they had at your business. Offering larger images will help you stand out. Company Folders provides folders that hold 5” x 7” or 4” x 6” photos—and they’re available in 55 unique stocks from which to choose.
Depending on your budget, you can give out promotional items to help advertise your business, too, such as sunglasses from Sunglass Ville that allows for orders as low as 24 pieces, or hats from Cap Beast that offers beanies and bucket hats in addition to the traditional cap. People love getting free goods, so this will definitely start your relationship off on the right foot.
Always remember customer service is ultimately the number one priority and will be the thing that makes you stand out from the rest. Make an effort to get to know your customers personally so that you can make recommendations for future purchases that will fit their needs.
Get involved in the community by sponsoring a local sports team or having an event to benefit a local non-profit organization. Encourage employees to volunteer, as well. Let the community know you care and that you are there to help. Getting involved with community service will help get your name out there and attract new customers. People will appreciate the extra steps you are taking and will remember that when they need to make a purchase. They also will be more likely to use your business if they know you return the favor by helping the community.
While it’s not the most exciting thing to do when starting a new business, getting the proper insurance coverage is definitely one of the most important things. While general liability and property insurance are a must, one type of insurance that is sometimes overlooked is worker’s compensation. Remember, even if you don’t have any employees in the beginning, you are still considered an employee and should be covered. This insurance covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. Though the level of coverage required varies by state, it is required in all 50 states.
Because there are so many variables that impact the cost of your insurance (such as the policy type, location of your business, your industry and number of employees), this is another thing you’re going to want to do your homework on. Ask fellow entrepreneurs for tips and recommended insurance agents, too. The worst thing you can do is find out you don’t have the proper coverage at a time when you need it the most.
Starting a small business is a lot of hard work. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and flustered when you realized you might have missed something that should have been done, but don’t get discouraged. Take things one step at a time, and don’t forget to breathe. Most importantly, don’t forget to take a moment here and there to celebrate what you are doing; this is your dream and you’re making it happen.
Do you have any other tips for new small business owners? Leave them in the comments below.
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