starting a small business

As part of a recent campaign I announced a Free Consulting Week – during this week I will answer all your marketing related questions provided they correspond to this simple rule:

 

Your questions should be about something that might be of interest to other people as well!

 

This post is an answer to Heather’s question, who asked:

 

“What should a small business that just started, with limited budget, focus on at the beginning?”

Answer:

At the start-up phase you have to balance between not to die from starvation and between long-term strategic thinking. This is what I highly suggest for startups:

 

1). Make sure that you will have bread every day on your table!

A big mistake, that many start-up business owners make – especially those who are strategic thinkers and later on become successful entrepreneurs (if they survive this) – is that they spend too much time and energy on creating long-term  projects, and meanwhile they starve to death.

 

In the start-up phase you have to make sure that not even one day passes by without you doing something to acquire new clients or customers. Put aside one or two hours daily and call potential clients, prepare and manage lead generating campaigns, create joint partnerships, write and send out X offers – the main point is that acquiring new customers should be a regular daily task, because in this phase the short-term goals are very important if you want to survive.

2). Super narrow your target market!

When you start out it’s very important how much you narrow your target market. If you don’t narrow your target market enough you won’t have enough money and energy to market your products and services properly.

 

A good, narrow target market should be something like this: a new shop should only target the local neighborhood, but with weekly regularity; a new accountant should only target manufacturing businesses in his city – you get the logic, right?

 

Later on you can broaden your target market, but at the beginning you have to have a target market who you almost know by name, and who you can reach with your marketing materials regularly, so that you can get them to buy.

 

Forget the common myth that “my target market is 5 million Irish people – if I could only get 1% of them…” and instead choose 100 of them, and make sure that you reach them with your marketing message regularly, preferably on a weekly basis, until you convert them to buy.

3). Do not drive onto the highway unless you know at which exit you want to come down.

A true entrepreneur knows what his goal is with his business right at the beginning. You as well have to decide what you want to do, why you started a business:

 

  • to create a job for yourself where you want to work untill the end of your life, or
  • to build a business that is operated by your employees and you retire from it happily, or
  • you are fattening a business so that later on you can sell it.

 

It’s ok, you can change your mind later on, but if you decide this at the beginning it will help a lot down the road when you are facing dilemmas as which way to head.

4.) Marketing materials – good is good enough!

Do not fall into the trap of spending a small fortune on a double sided, full color business brochure with matt laminate finish, you do not need a plastic business card right away, and it’s all right if your first website only has 2 or 3 pages!

 

The main strategy here is that it should be good enough, and then you need to move on to implementation. You can fine tune and perfect these later, once your business took off.  Until then, the emphasis is on implementation and on speed!

 

Remember: money loves speed and avoids those who are slow.

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