While starting and running a business can be exciting and satisfying, it’s also a minefield of potential snags and slip-ups – not to mention advice from all and sundry, not all experts in their field. A handful of tried and trusted tips may help, however.

Solve problems

So many startups focus on what they’re selling and try to shoehorn it into the market without finding out if there’s a demand for it. Sometimes they succeed when there is a need, but sometimes they don’t because there isn’t enough demand to sustain it.

Find out what problems people have and provide the solution. For example, good stock control is vital for businesses, so companies switched on to what these markets need will create solutions for efficient stock controlling.

It’s becoming easier now to research a market and find out:

  • Is there a demand for your solution?
  • Are people willing to spend money on it?

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

A bit of a cliche perhaps, but the KISS principle is a good one to abide by especially in the early stages of a new business.

It’s about not overdoing the product or service offering and over complicating things; this can dilute the focus and possibly cost money.

Find the problem and provide the solution as simply as possible – enhancements and related offerings can be provided once the business has become more established in its marketplace.

Good financial management

It’s too easy to neglect the monitoring of finances as things take off and time is squeezed, but it’s vital to keep track of finances especially cashflow.

There’s nothing more tragic than a business with a sound product offering getting into difficulties and maybe failing due to poor cashflow. Set up and maintain a cashflow record and keep referring to it regularly.

Keep careful track of income and expenditure; the services of a trusted accountant used to working with start-up businesses is a very worthwhile expense.

Get comfortable with selling

Being competent at marketing is a key business skill and, whilst a business owner may not be actually selling by knocking on doors or cold calling, they’re selling their business pretty much any chance they get without, of course, becoming a nuisance to friends and associates.

If you find marketing and sales a bit uncomfortable then you have to change your mindset fast; in the end it’s simply informing your target market you’re there and can help them. Today’s ability to market to a targeted audience fairly easily means businesses don’t have to try to convince all and sundry they should be buying their product.

Investigate various marketing methods

Digital marketing has opened up so many possibilities and variations for marketing; it can be confusing and daunting but don’t feel put off if this is how you feel.

Having a professional website, social media channels relevant to your business, and perhaps an email set up that enables you to communicate with customers, both actual and potential, on a regular basis, are basics.

You may not need every digital marketing option but some will almost certainly help – and they’re not necessarily expensive; while traditional marketing methods still apply, don’t ignore digital.

Develop a ‘learning’ mentality

Things change rapidly in business nowadays and what works today may not tomorrow, and almost certainly not a decade or so down the line. Take time to assess trends and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

Customer feedback can help determine what – if any – new directions to go in.

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