There are a lot of components that contribute to the success of a new business; some of them are in your control as a business owner, and some of them are not. Many times, the things your business needs right now isn’t so obvious. If you’re not exactly sure where to start when launching a business, here are four things you can do to ensure your business moves in the direction you want it to go.
Before you jump in with both feet, define your objective first. Goals give you a direction to start moving in. They’re the compass of your business. Visualize what it is you want your business to do. How do you want it to grow? How do you see it changing? How can it improve? If you dislike the direction your company is going, take this opportunity to ask yourself what you really want, and to redefine old goals or replace them with new ones. If you do like the direction your business is going, extrapolate on your current goals. Dream big.
After asking yourself these important questions, record your goals. Set goals with SMART guidelines: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Track your progress on your goals as time passes, and make necessary adjustments.
2. A plan
If you don’t have a business plan, then you aren’t in control of the future of your business. You can have a long list of goals, but the likelihood of achieving them without a plan is small. It’s even less likely that you’ll be able to capture the interest of investors.
Entrepreneur explains that “a business plan conveys your business goals, the strategies you’ll use to meet them, potential problems that may confront your business and ways to solve them, the organizational structure of your business (including titles and responsibilities), and finally, the amount of capital required to finance your venture and keep it going until it breaks even.”
You might also want to include a market analysis, information about how you’ll bring in money, how you’ll handle expenses, and the concept for your business. Some business plans can go on for a hundred pages, but 20 pages is more the norm. Having one allows you to share your vision with investors and other key people. In other words, it provides you with a concrete talking point, and it prepares you for the future.
3. Content marketing
Blogs, videos, infographics, oh my! It can all get so confusing. A content marketing campaign can be so intimidating that it seems much easier to forgo to effort. Avoid this temptation. Remember, you’ve got competition. And your competition is going to use content marketing to get an edge on you.
At the bare minimum, your company’s website should include a blog. Blogging connects you with your audience and pushes your site higher in the rankings of search engines. When trying to decide how and where to start a blog, start with a little research about the different blogging platforms available. Some will be more suitable for your business than others. Then consider your audience—your potential customers. What questions do they have that you can answer? Provide them content they want, and make it available on the digital platforms where they spend the most time (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
Technology is the great equalizer; it puts small businesses on the map, often for free (or at least very cheap). Tools like Skype, MailChimp, Wix, and LinkedIn are just some of the most important types of technology for your business to have, according to Forbes. Some tools can help you track your reputation, find data on customers, and manage social media accounts. Others allow you to talk to clients, send large batches of mail, and to connect with other important people in your industry. Take advantage of the technological opportunities all around you.
There has never been a better time to open a business. Opportunities and resources abound. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or effortless, especially for new businesses. To prepare yourself and your business for the times ahead, have a specific set of goals and a business plan to accompany them, then utilize technology and content marketing to reach your customers. With these steps, you’re more likely to reach your target than a business owner who doesn’t.