Thursday, October 27, 2016

Coping with Failure

There are unlimited mantras, quotes, and stories dedicated to coping with failure. This is perhaps because it is a well-accepted fact that failure is simply a part of life. Starting and running a business is often subject to the same outcome. In fact, failure is often a welcomed disposition in the discourse of entrepreneurship because it helps to shape and reshape a successful business.  Failure should never be a deterrent from pursuing your business goals. Rather, it should be embraced and perhaps anticipated. In this article, we’ll explore coping with failure in business and using it as a sword rather than a shield.
 
Business failure can span anywhere from an unsuccessful marketing or promotional method to the complete termination. Regardless of what failure looks like in this particular context, it has an impact on the psyche of the self-employed individual who started or took over the business. 

According to Bruno, McQuarrie, and Torgrimson in an article published in Journal of Business Venturing, the self-employed appear to have an emotional relationship with their business.  More specifically, the motivation for managing one’s business spans beyond personal profit, into loyalty to a product, loyalty to a market and customers, and the need to prove one’s self. When you consider these elements of this emotional relationship, it becomes clear, first, why failure elicits such a huge response in business and second, why the way in which you recover is much more important than the failure itself.  So, how do you cope? How do you recover?

1. Learn
                       
One of the best ways to cope with failure in business is to make a conscious decision to learn from it. In a 2003 article published in Academy of Management Review, Dean Shepherd suggests, “learning from business failure occurs when you can use the information available about why the business failed to revise your existing knowledge of how to manage your own business effectively.”  This requires the ability to stare failure in the face and accept that you are still a student even when you run the business. It further requires an ability to “revise assumptions about the consequences” of previous decisions, actions, and omissions.  When you can approach your failure in an evaluative manner, you are more likely to have a successful outcome.

2.  Anticipate and Rehearse

“Don’t make the same mistake twice”.  This warning cannot be echoed loud enough in business. When you’ve done something wrong or insufficient a first time it should prompt you to be more careful the second time around. In other words, you should anticipate an error; rehearse with that error in mind and control for it.  Many entrepreneurs have had to test and retest prototypes continuously to ensure it is failure proof.  Sometimes this means getting out of your comfort zone and being completely transparent.  The more you dissect your product or service piece by piece and ask yourself “how can this fail”, the closer you get towards a product or service you can proudly stand behind in success. This will not make you failure proof, but it can certainly minimize the outcome of same and teach you more about yourself as a business owner.

3.  Think Positively

One of the immediate responses to failure is negativity. A close second is doubt. These two devils can drive your business into hell if you allow them to manifest and percolate.  When you’ve come face to face with failure, take a few minutes to cry and scream if you have to. But once those minutes have expired, commend yourself for your effort, feed your mind with positive affirmations, and most importantly, saturate yourself with acceptance. Accept that the one thing that makes you most like any other business is your susceptibility to failure. Once you’ve acknowledged that, immediately begin rebuilding, modifying, or changing your direction.

4. Start Again

Some of the biggest companies that exist today have failed hundreds of times before getting their big breaks; Apple and Disney are prime examples. Failing just might be the answered prayer you didn’t know you need. It can challenge you into success. Don’t pressure yourself with deadlines if your product isn’t ready. Take your time with your craft. If you love it, you’ll be tender and starting over will only allow you to become more intimate with your business. Embrace a fresh start.

Failure is a part of life and that life doesn’t stop when you acquire a business. Instead, it becomes much greater. Consequently, your failures will increase, but so will your successes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting Acquainted With the Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Psychologists have proven, through continuous research, that behaviour can be learned through observation and mirroring. They also purport that it takes 21 days of consistency for an individual to make or break a habit. Why is this important to entrepreneurship? Well, your success as an entrepreneur can lie heavily on the monitoring, observing, and putting into action some of the habits, techniques and practices that are common among entrepreneurs and small business owners who have propelled their careers beyond the confines of “a single start up”. Many entrepreneurs credit their success to modeled behaviour and plans. Consequently, we have compiled a list of some of the habits of successful entrepreneurs to help steer you in the right direction and give you a head start on your return on investment.

Watch the company you keep.

If you want to attain entrepreneurial success, you should find yourself in the company of those who have gone before you and have excelled. You can learn a lot from people who are smarter than you. Don’t let their knowledge dissuade or intimidate you. They, too, once had a startup (in many cases, of humble beginnings). Once you’ve selected the individuals you want in your circle, refrain from suffocating yourself with business and business-related tasks and conversation. 

To elaborate, refrain from meeting these  “role models” in networking and business settings. Instead, spend time with them at sporting events, barbeques, or even light coffee. If you surround yourself with successful business owners beyond the context of business, you create the opportunity to learn how they live their lives on a day-to-day basis. Conclusively, if you intend on starting an accounting firm, make sure accountants make up a percentage of your “friends group”. 

Be intentional about your day-to-day routine.

Successful entrepreneurs rarely complain about lacking enough hours in the day. They recognize that everyone is allotted the same time and it is the use of that time that is transformative. If you are a morning person, wake up early to capitalize on your hours of productivity. That doesn’t mean waking up at 7 a.m. It means really taking advantage of the time you complete your best work. That may translate into a 4:00 a.m. call time. If you want to maximize your daily productivity potential, you must take your body’s cues seriously. Recognize that work is just as important as rest and when there’s an imbalance of these two things, you and your business are bound to suffer. Further, incorporate time for exercise, personal time, and quality time with family and friends. Once you’ve settled on your day-to-day routine, be consistent.

Make use of the short-list.

When you own a business, your to-do list is often eternal. The list itself might discourage you from completing any work at all. In other instances, it can be so demanding that you seldom complete tasks in a reasonable manner.  Successful entrepreneurs report condensing tasks to two to three priority items each day. As a result, in the likely event that you do not get through your entire list, your most important tasks are completed daily. This technique keeps you accountable, increases task completion, and provides an overall picture for your efficiency. Additionally, short-lists function as an evaluation tool on how to run and grow your business.

Aim high.

Finally, one of the most common emotional traits that persist among entrepreneurs is doubt. Will this work? What if I fail? Is this the right way? Will they buy it? Should I do this? The second-guessing disease is correlated with goal setting. The more you second-guess yourself, the smaller the goals. Successful entrepreneurs aim high, no matter how unsure they are. Why? Because starting a business is a risk and that’s where the magic happens in many instances. Will the outcome always be favourable? Probably not, but at least you can edit and go back to the drawing board when something does not work out.

It is better to aim high and land somewhere at the top than to aim low and hit the mark.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Importance of Market Research

Most entrepreneurs are inexperienced and ignorant to the discourse of business when they first embark on the journey of managing a company.  It’s not a bad thing, but it is a fact worth acknowledging. That being said, a vast majority of starting a business is education and in many instances, that education is informal and self taught. One of the greatest challenges of an independent business education is the experimental learning of trial and error.  Some aspects of business will only make sense once you’ve tried it a few times and realize what is missing. Other aspects will come quickly and immediately and will pose no further threat to your business.

The pedagogical journey of entrepreneurship consists of a series of fundamental factors that should be considered and practiced for any serious contention for a successful business. One of these factors is market research; how well will your product or service perform in the market? Often overlooked due to costs, time, and significance, market research can make or break any business idea.  We want your business venture to start off in a way that will encourage growth. As such, we’ve outlined our top three reasons why market research should be on your priority list.

Market research reaffirms your business idea

When you have a concept or idea and you wish to convert it into a product or service, market research helps you understand who your target audience is, whether there is indeed a demand or interest in your product, and ultimately your business’ success potential. For example, if you anticipate your target audience to be young adults between the ages of 18 and 27, but upon reviewing the data from your surveys and focus groups you notice that middle-aged persons express a greater benefit from the product, you may need to redesign your business model taking into account middle-aged individuals.  On the other hand, you might also find that there is absolutely no interest whatsoever and your investment may not be worth it. Market research is simply a strong editing tool that can refine your business to properly meet the needs of your consumers.

Knowing your numbers

Numbers are vital to a business. How much will you pay? How much will your consumers pay?  Are you competitive enough? Market research assists in money management. If you understand who your ideal consumer is, you can further assess how much they are willing to pay for your product. Additionally, it will gauge how much money you need to invest to obtain a beneficial return. Research will highlight the monetary relationship between the business and the consumer. If your intended audience is women, but they are from low-income brackets, you must consider the likelihood that they will impact your business financially, particularly in a way that will encourage steady growth. 

Further, market research, in the form of business-to-business comparison, can help you determine whether your prices are too high or too low and how competitive you will be among your entrepreneurial peers. This research can often be obtained by simple web searches and do not require much time. It is an easy way to gain some perspective on your business.

 Business and Market Predictability

Market research can reveal how your business will perform in its initial stages as well as the future. Granted, there are a myriad of factors that can cause predictions to deviate, it is still a reliable tool for estimates on what to expect. The research can guide contingency plans and business projections.

Whether you decide to limit your research to the web or other minimal resources or you choose to spend thousands of dollars in quantitative and qualitative data collection, market research will have a positive effective on your entrepreneurial pursuits. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Networking

Many business professionals, educational institutions and other agents of commerce continually stress the importance of networking. This is quite possibly because they foresee, witness, and experience the tremendous benefits that derive from opportunities of connection. Networking is like a good pair of shoes that never goes out of style. Whether you’re just stepping into the field of entrepreneurship or you have been running your business for a long while, it is still the perfect fit that will get you to that next step.  No matter where you are on the spectrum of entrepreneurship and business ownership, you have something to gain from connecting with likeminded individuals. Below are our five reasons why you should be networking. Take advantage of them.

Information
           
Networking is an outlet for information. People attend to both talk and listen. We suggest that while it is imperative that you speak and promote your business in these kind of forums, it is fundamental that you use networking opportunities to soak up as much information as you possibly can. Listen for what’s working in your industry and what pitches and approaches have been unsuccessful. What are the current trends? Which individuals should you be speaking with? What more can you learn? Who is your competition? How can you stand out? There is no limit to the information you can gather at a networking event. At the very least, it is a soundboard to reassure you of your progress, setbacks or need for a little positive and negative information is useful to a growing business.

Increase business/referrals

As a business owner, it is your job to promote your company and increase your clientele. Networking events facilitate this in a way that is less formal and stuffy.  There’s no Powerpoint presentation, no folders, and no necessary major pitch. You simply speak about your business and hand out your business cards. It is your key opportunity to be as real as possible without feeling the pressure of having to book a client. You go at your own pace, choose the people you want to talk to, and keep the conversations lighthearted.  Entrepreneurs tend to excel at networking due to the natural flow of the conversations. Additionally, you can be more creative in your approach to draw people to you. For example, wear a statement piece (jewelry, shoes, etc.) that is guaranteed to strike up a conversation. Although most networking events are less pressure-filled, it is crucial however, to maintain an objective standard of professionalism as you are still representing your company.

 Making connections

Let’s face it; every business needs resources to contribute to the growth and acceleration of business. Networking provides such opportunities. You are exposed to different individuals who are experts in subjects that you are less familiar with. They may also have capital that your business may benefit from or perhaps you’ve heard they invest in certain kinds of businesses. Your attendance significantly increases your connection potential. Use that opportunity to build and grow.  Once you have exposed your business to likeminded individuals who believe in your company and your vision, it can secure a connection that may transform your business for the better.

Tackle unanswered questions

Networking is your “Q and A” forum. If you’re feeling uncertain about your business or perhaps your next step, use networking to share ideas, receive feedback, and alleviate your uncertainty. Additionally, speak specifically with individuals who know more that you and pick their brain.
           
Building your profile and confidence

Finally, networking is your runway. It is where you strut your stuff so that your colleagues can put a face to your name and you can build your profile. It is always where you go to gain your confidence. Most of the people you are intimidated by are just like you.  Find comfort in that. Believe in your ability, believe in your business and be confident.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Staying Motivated as an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a liberating journey that highlights the emancipation of being an employee, but it is also work-heavy. And the natural accessories that come along with this position of leadership can quickly result in regret and remorse for choosing a path so heavily ridden with high levels of responsibility and stress. When discouraging moments do arise, how can a new business owner find enough strength to push through and see beyond the temporary circumstances? What keeps an entrepreneur motivated?

Track your progress

It is easy to point out all the things that are going wrong in your business. In those moments however, it is useful to remind yourself of  your accomplishments up to the point of your fatigue. This helps motivate entrepreneurs by identifying and categorizing attainable and realistic goals in comparison to goals that might take a little longer to accomplish and are better off as long-term ambitions.  Tracking your progress is not an exercise that should be reserved solely for moments of demotivation. Instead, implement this practice at the very start of your business and do weekly or monthly checks to see how far you’ve come and how much farther you have to go. This tangible tool will motivate you, on a regular basis, to work hard in order to see your business attain and surpass each level of success you envision for your company.

Reflect on the beginning

Why did you want to become an entrepreneur? Some individuals only have to recall a single experience whereby sitting at a cubicle at a dead-end job, with a boss who was not interested in accelerating the company while simultaneously suppressing the ideas of employees, posed a far greater challenge. Reflecting on previous experiences of “occupational prison” can jolt you back into your purpose and motivate you to keep going. Other individuals initially begin their entrepreneurial pursuit in the hopes that they can give their families better lives. If that was your starting point, talk to your loved ones and rediscover what their goals and aspirations are. Then, ask yourself if your contribution to their goals and dreams will be fulfilled working for yourself or working for someone else. The idea here is simple: when you reconnect with your origin stories, you can reconnect with the motivation that initially allowed you to start a business in the first place.

Join Networking groups

Mingling with likeminded people is perhaps one of the easiest ways to stay motivated as a business owner. Stepping away from your computer screen to listen and share ideas with others, sparks your own creativity and forces you to think about where your business is currently, and how you can make it better. Further, the sharing of similar experiences reassures you that a lack of motivation is a part of the discourse of entrepreneurship. Your peers have been through and may be going through the same things and you may benefit from their coping strategies. Socializing with a group of successful people who had the courage to stand alone and start a business can give you the mental push you need to move forward with confidence.

Make positive affirmations a part of everyday discourse

In business, you get out what you put in. Feed your mind with positive affirmations daily. It may sound silly, but it works. Some entrepreneurs have mantras that they recite on a daily basis. Others keep inspirational words in a frame on their desk as a screensaver on their computer. Whether you say these things out loud to yourself, write them down daily, or read them in silence, they are healthy for your mind and motivation. The more positive you are about your business, the less the negative shortcomings will affect you. They will occur, but their impact will motivate rather than discourage you.

If you’ve been feeling demotivated lately, try one or a combination of these methods and see how your behaviour changes. Share some of your motivation tactics below to encourage fellow readers.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stress Management in Entrepreneurial Ventures

Venturing into entrepreneurship, especially for the first time, can be a bit overwhelming. The
experiences are new, the challenges are multiple, and being at the top can be lonely. Business owners are likely to encounter pressured situations on numerous occasions. Consequently, coping strategies are necessary.  We’ve compiled a list of some of the most reliable and effective strategies to keep every entrepreneur afloat and on top.

Recognizing the Source

With the inevitability of stress lurking around the corners of entrepreneurship, it is important to be able to recognize the cause of your heightened emotions. If you can locate the source, you have a greater chance at a successful resolution. For example, if you find that you are regularly stressed around deadlines, assess the situation to determine whether or not it is a time-management issue. If it is, create a schedule that accommodates checkpoints at least two weeks prior to your deadline. In doing so, you reduce the pressure to complete everything in a short time frame and you have the flexibility to make changes or re-evaluate your decisions within reasonable time. In totality, knowing the source of your stress leads to the alleviation of it.

Change your Environment

Sometimes your work environment can be stuffy. You become accustomed to the space that you think, create, and close deals in day after day. This repetition can result in a feeling of entrapment, stagnation, and overall fatigue. Business owners advise on changing the scenery to keep your mind fresh and elevate your productivity. Whether it’s renting a space for a month or taking one or two days out of the month to work in a coffee shop or a quite conservatory, a new environment stimulates your brain and maintains your sanity.

Get a Team

Business owners are overprotective of their projects and rightfully so. Unfortunately, that over-protectiveness, in some instances, breeds a ‘one-man show’. Consequently, your business, in its entirety, becomes your responsibility. You are in charge of accounting, sales, marketing and advertising, and productivity. While this methodology works for some people  (many start-ups begin this way), after a while it becomes stressful. Add someone to your team to lighten the load. Even a single person makes a difference. Further, it is beneficial to have someone to bounce your ideas off of and company to decompress work tension. You can still maintain the integrity of your business with a team.  Hire individuals who share your passion so you can worry less about their performance and concentrate more on being a successful business.

Healthy Work and Lifestyle Balance

Working is great, but so is not working. Take regular breaks when your body gives you warning signals. Engage in external activities that allow you to recharge your batteries. Many entrepreneurs play sports in their down time to stimulate their brains and heart rate in a healthy and beneficial way. Spend some time outside to breathe in some fresh air. Become intertwined your family and attend as many family-related events as possible. The most successful entrepreneurs understand this balance and actively work to achieve and maintain it.

This list is not exhaustive and is an essential starting up for reducing the entrepreneurial stress of starting a business. In closing, don’t just work hard, work right. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How to cope when you’re on double duty: Starting a business while working full time

When you decide to start a business, you usually aren’t sitting in the lap of luxury with unlimited free time, resources, and countless windows of opportunity. Instead, most new business owners are confronted with their business ideas amidst the stereotypical “9 to 5”.  Further, some start-up ideas do not materialize beyond the conception phase due to the intimidating challenge of juggling a new business while working full time. Despite this disposition, entrepreneurs have been and continue to nurture successful businesses in this way. So, what’s the big secret? The truth is really no secret at all. Managing a start-up while working a full time job does not have to make you a victim of entrepreneurial defeat. Our small guide below is designed to help you thrive and succeed at this balancing act.

Time Management

When you dedicate an average of eight hours per day to a full time job, it is inevitable that time is going to be one of your greatest competitors for success. Once you recognize and accept this fact, you will be well on your way. Part of effective time management is planning. Assess your current schedule and determine how much of your time is “wasted”.  For example, if you watch three hours of television after work, consider at least two out of those three hours disposable. Further, evaluate how you spend your weekends. The weekends consist of two full “non-work” days, how do you use them? 

Once you have mapped out your current weekly schedule, create a new one inserting small-business/start-up time in all your disposable time slots. Creating a schedule and planning how you will use your time will help you track your progress and give you a big picture on how you are allocating your time in favour of growing a lucrative business. You can also incorporate lists to ensure that each day you are completing a specific task. If you are fortunate enough to work at a company that has liberal policies on working other jobs simultaneously, take advantage of that time without jeopardizing your present employment. Alternatively, if your job opposes integration of this kind, capitalize on your lunch breaks. This does not mean that you should skip lunch however, but take time to eat and time to work. If you manage your time correctly you will still be able to do the more relaxing activities you enjoy.

Licensing and Registration

Obtain all the necessary license and registration at the start of your business. It is particularly important to engage in this process at the beginning stages of your start-up because in some jurisdictions it can be time-consuming. Additionally, you may need sufficient time to obtain necessary documents and tackle unforeseeable circumstances that can or may hinder your project. The last thing you need during this process is a setback.  That is not to say they will not happen, but you have a great chance of minimizing them by acting sooner rather than later.

Money Management

Most start-ups and small businesses are individually funded (out-of-pocket). Make a budget and monitor the distribution of funds. Determine what percentage, if any, of your full-time salary can be redirected into your business.  Further, ensure that your business expenses do not compromise your personal expenses. If you are really pressed for funding you may have to make smart but effective lifestyle changes. For example, bring a lunch and limit the amount of coffee purchases you make in a day or week. Go to the movies once a month and substitute your frequent social outings for a night in. Reassign those funds to your business. These changes are not about ridding your life of its social pride, but rather, cutting out what it beyond necessary objectively.

Don’t think too big, too quickly

Starting a business can be exciting, but do not allow that excitement to cloud your judgment.  Take your time and understand your business. Do not waste time worrying about office space and spending frivolously on products and services that are not fundamental to your start-up. Take meetings at coffee shops if you have to. Schedule phone and Skype calls where necessary. If you become too caught up in materializing your ideal business at the beginning of the process, you run the risk of losing money and, worse, losing your business.

Finally, enjoy the process. It is easy to get caught up in what is sometimes a dense world of business. Do not lose sight of yourself and your vision. Take regular breaks just like any other job and laugh a little. You will make mistakes, but do not fret on them for too long. Cry if you have to and get back in position remembering that failure is a natural progression of success.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The “Money Problem”

There aren’t many scenarios in which people are repulsed by money…except of course, in the world of business. As a new business owner, conversations about money can be intimidating, uncomfortable and condescending. In a discourse where the exchange of service for currency is inevitable, it’s hard to conceptualize such a fear, but most business owners are able to recount instances where having to pick up the phone and discuss payment was a nerve-wracking as pulling teeth.  

There are three primary factors that are attributable to the money problem:

·         Value - Entrepreneurs struggle to accurately assert a price that is complimentary to the value of the service they offer. In some instances business owners quote clients/customers fees that are much lower than the product value because they fear that the consumer will not recognize the worth; the opposite is also true.  Pricing comes with a warranted level of sensitivity because quite often it dictates how well a business will perform in the respective market.  Consequently, talking about it can result in gaining clients or losing clients and some entrepreneurs are not willing to take that risk.

·         Cultural taboo - Cultures discourage discussions about money. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs allow that inter-generational value to seep into the discourse of business. Where it is unacceptable to talk about money in the familiar institution, it is equally disrespectful in a financial one.  The symptoms of this cultural taboo are evident in scenarios where business owners are complacent in obtaining late fees, outstanding balances, and unpaid debts. Instead, they carry on quietly and accept the loss, notwithstanding instances where the obtainable amount is not of “significant” value.

·         Social Psychology, “A need to be right, and a need to be liked” - This explanation is quite simple: business owners and people in general, want to be liked and want to be right. When a conversation of money begins to occur, the rigidity of these two qualities is threatened. Consequently, a client may refuse business on such premise.

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. The following strategies have been effective in relieving conversational tension on this hot topic.

·         Market Comparisons - Compare your prices to your competitors’ prices. Although this may require a little bit of research, the effort is worth the outcome. Pinpoint noticeable financial trends and assess your business on a similar spectrum. If there are businesses that price their services above average fees, evaluate their company to see why. Some businesses may offer additional services, have more qualified professionals, or may have simply capitalized on effective branding.  When you refer to your prices, quoting some of the prices of your competitors will reassure your client that they are not being lowballed. If your business is above average, make the same comparisons, but emphasize what you are offering that warrants a departure from the status quo.

·         Managing Your Motive - Why are you talking about money? How important is the conversation you’re about to engage in? These two questions are fundamental in shaping your thinking about money in business. If both responses yield a matter of urgency and your business will suffer if the matter is not addressed, it is imperative to have the conversation. On the other hand, if your sole motive is to get more money without providing a service that matches same, you’re better off not mentioning it.

·         Formal Non-verbal Communication - Talking on the phone or over a meal in a meeting may work for some business professionals, but it is not ideal for everyone.  Send an email outlining the details of pricing and be clear and direct. Not only does this alleviate some of the burden, but it also functions as binding documentation of exchange between you and the client. Further, emails accommodate, what are otherwise, high-intensity negotiations.
      
      In closing, the infamous expression, “money talks” is misleading, because money cannot talk until someone else does. And the reality is: if you cannot get rid of the money problem, it may result in a “non-existing business” problem. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Start-Up Mistakes to Lookout For!

Let's face it, every entrepreneur's first start-up is a fish-out-of-water- experience; new territories usually are. One of the best ways to tackle the unfamiliarity of business ownership however is to learn from those who have gone before you. Most entrepreneurs have a laundry list of things they've had to do, and redo multiple times before getting things right. Fortunately, we've got our laundry list of mistakes you should avoid to make your startup success attainable.

A Saturated Market

One of the more challenging tasks of being an entrepreneur is knowing how to reason with yourself and be honest in those responses. This is particularly true at the conception stage of your startup. You come up with an idea for your business, you believe in it, and you start investing time, energy, and resources to make your vision materialize. Finally, when you launch, you realize that the market is too saturated and your attempt to transcend your peers failed. Just like that, your business dissolves. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake.

When you have an idea for a startup, it is imperative to implement a market research component that facilitates your place in the designated industry. If you haven't invented something it is more than likely the case that your business idea already exists. Know who your competitors are, how the market is performing, and whether it makes sense to invest in a business idea that has seen one too many launches.

Launching too quickly or too slowly
 
Having a new business can be exciting and that excitement can persuade you to place your product or service in the hands of consumers as fast as possible. Prematurely launching your business can kill it. There is nothing quite like introducing an ill-prepared product to a consumer. On the other hand, it is equally detrimental if you have a successful product and you are unable to keep up with the demand for it. Take some time and nurture your idea to control for foreseeable outcomes like these.

It is also possible to launch too slowly. Some startups require a large amount of preparation time. Research, testing, and funding are among the primary factors that can delay a launch. However, if you are taking too long to make your business accessible, perhaps it has no place in the market. Otherwise, you're hurting your business if you withhold something that is on demand and is necessary to your consumers. They may stop waiting. If you are slow to launch, there should be substantial reason.

Poor Investment Strategy

Every business wants to grow, but that growth is heavily predicated on how money is managed. Your business should be your investment manager's priority. Monitor the monetary flow and forecast of your startup to effectively regulate where you can make more money and where you should pull back a bit. Further, investments should yield growth and this should not be interpreted as investing solely in the interest of shareholders. Investments should also be made in favour of consumers; they make the business. “If you invest in your users, your investors will benefit regardless”.

No Target Audience

It's unfortunate that some startups fail due to the lack of a clear and definitive consumer. Knowing who you are selling your product to is instrumental in startup success. A designated target audience helps drive marketing and promotion strategies, product development, and sale projection. When you have a target audience you are aware of exactly where to find your market and how to control it and be competitive. On the other hand, failure to determine a specific group to which to market your product can result in financial loss and over-investment.

A Divided Team

Lastly, if your team does not share your vision, you are doing a disservice to your business. Hire like-minded people who share your values, but differ in creativity and skill; this will diversify and enhance your business potential.

Starting a business can be intimidating, but minimizing your mistakes can make the ride a little less bumpy and a little more successful. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Starting Point for Small Business Marketing

When you decide to start a business, one thing is immediately obvious: you are your own boss. This is usually symbolic of the unshackling from the demands of workplace discourse, but every new business owner quickly falls off of their high horse into a pit of demands to which they are solely accountable for.  All of a sudden you are in charge of the product, promotions, advertising, payroll, and most importantly, marketing. Fortunately, marketing has transformed how business is done thanks to social media. In fact, even the most successful businesses are becoming increasingly reliable on the marketing power of resources such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few.  Small business owners and first-time entrepreneurs must become familiar with this newly popular outlet if they want to get in the game, stay in the game, and be competitive. So what’s the big deal with this seemingly impersonal marketing tool? Here’s our big three!

Traffic! Traffic! Traffic!

Traffic is to business what location is to real estate. It is imperative that your business drives traffic. If you are not interacting with your potential customers, clients, and consumers regularly you are doing a disservice to your business. Social media provides the perfect platform to engage. Whether you are posting once a day or multiple times a day, posting is what will spark interest. The more interesting content you post, the more likely you are to drive people to your website and find out more about your business and what services you have to offer. 

Hashtags are particularly important to expanding your reach beyond the set number of people who are following you. Don’t know what a hashtag is? Hashtags are keywords relevant to the corresponding image, text, or information that you post on a social media outlet. It is always preceded by the “pound” or “number” sign. For example, if you are starting a real estate business and you posted a home for sale on Instagram, you can hashtag words like #realestate #buying #selling to allow your image to populate on those pages. The idea is, if someone is looking for home, they can search the hashtag and browse your social media page. This method is quick, easy, free, and effective. Hashtags aren’t the only way to drive traffic to your page and subsequently your website. You can team up with other business owners and agree to promote each other. These tactics are likely to increase traffic to your business pages and website and are quite interactive.

Engagement

Equally important to any business is feedback. If you want to know if your business model is working, you ask. Social media puts you in direct contact with the people you intend to serve. Post questionnaires and ask for product feedback to find out how your product is doing or why the service your offering is helpful to some people and not others. Having an interactive platform is beneficial to molding your business for success. It is one thing to have input from shareholders and investors, but when consumers are telling you what they like or don’t like, there is a lot more weight in their words.

Engagement does not only help you to evaluate and shape your business, it also helps to gain it. This can be accomplished by interacting with your followers. People want to know they are being heard. If someone comments, make an effort to respond. If you are consistent you will gain customers and clients. The key to mastering engagement on social media is creativity and consistency, so be sure to run trials. Be observant to what posts garner the most “likes” and what posts are less popular. Use these statistics to guide your posts.

Branding

One of the primary goals of marketing is to be recognizable and  stand out among your competitors. Social media facilitates branding goals such as recognition and loyalty. Any opportunity you have to post your logo or assert your brand, you should use it. In doing so, you will increase your visibility and enforce familiarity with your audience. Using social media to promote your brand will also keep existing customers engaged. As previously mentioned, the more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to remain customers and fans.

Social media marketing may not be the hot topic forever, but it is the hot topic now. Don’t let your business fall through the cracks. It may take some time to get acquainted with social media discourse, but once you master it your business will flourish.