So you own a start up business. You came up with a great product or service and have had some success with it. You even have a website and a great domain name.
What are the next steps to taking your business to the next level?
- Establishing Your Brand
- Deciding which segment of the market to target
- Retail, wholesale or both - what are your realistic capabilities?
- Product or service production and refinement
- Selling on multiple venues - what is appropriate for you?
- Refining your presentation from a personal approach to a professional approach
- Setting realistic goals for the future
Setting Realistic Goals For the Future ~
This is listed last however it is something that you will find is constantly evolving over time. It is also a point that you need to keep in the back of your head at all times. As your business evolves and grows, suffers setbacks, changes direction, starts growing again, you'll find that your realistic future goals will need to be adjusted as well in order to keep your business on a healthy path way to success.
Establishing Your Brand ~ Brand Recognition
Your eventual "brand" that you establish is what sets you apart from all other companies and businesses that might be offering / selling the same or similar services or products that you do. It makes you identifiable visually to the consumer and makes you stand out from the pack.
Your brand is the visual message you send out to all who see it. Careful planning needs to be given to the visual, the colors used, the headline, and the tagline. Color psychology plays a big part in your branding as does your message.
Your branding will be used on business cards, brochures, company letterhead, social media, signs, and more. That's huge.
Deciding Which Segment of the Market To Target ~
If you offer a product, who is your target market? Retail, consumer, wholesale? Sell directly to consumers via your website? Open a retail brick and mortar store? Sell wholesale to distributors and retail businesses, essentially becoming a supplier?
If you offer a service, the same question applies. Will you offer your services from your home office, going out to meet with clients? Will you open an office on Main Street so the clients can walk in and come to you? Does your pricing structure lend itself well to offering service packages, bundling services?
You can always open yourself up to more options as time goes on. Starting out, this is a critical decision. Make the wrong decision and the life of your business hangs in the balance.
Retail, Wholesale or Both - What Are Your Realistic Capabilities?
This step ties in directly to the one above, your target market. It also addresses a key point. If you offer products, are you in a position to offer them wholesale? Can you keep up with supply and demand? A business that cannot keep up with supply and demand gets a bad reputation and often closes down.
If you offer services, there is a supply and demand issue there as well. Can you keep up with regular on demand services for your clients as well as those carefully crafted packages and bundled services? How many clients can you realistically deliver to in a day? In a week? On time and high quality services are of premium importance.
Product or Service Production and Refinement ~
Over time, as you become more successful, you will see products or services that will need to be refined as the business evolves and customer needs evolve. Some products or services will need to be deleted from the lineup. And new offerings are always a possibility based on customer need and demand.
This important point will become the bridge by which your business crosses over to either becoming more successful or staying stagnant and eventually dying. Don't turn a blind eye to this. It's part of the heartbeat of your business. A regular review of products and service offerings is your best bet.
Selling on Multiple Venues - What is Appropriate For You?
We are assuming you already have a website. Again, products or services makes no difference, multiple venues will open up doors for your business. The big question is, which venues are right for what you offer?
This is a critical step and not to be taken lightly. Just throwing your products or services to the wind will do more damage than good. This usually happens when a business is motivated strictly by making as much money as possible quickly (dare we say it - becoming money hungry) instead of carefully crafting a brand, a reputation that can be trusted and doing their due diligence - research.
Research, vetting and making a plan is so very important when expanding out to multiple venues. This needs to be manageable, and cost effective and in line with your business plans and goals.
Refining Your Presentation From a Personal Approach To a Professional Approach ~
This is the "grow up" phase you must learn if your start up is going to take off successfully. It's time to stop thinking of it in a personal sense, as "me", and think of it and treat it in a professional sense, always as "we" and "our". You are a company now, out to make your impressions on the world and attract new clients, customers and businesses. Start acting like a company and not as a personal endeavor you hope people will like.