One of the biggest challenges that every startup faces is competition from established brands. Think about an established brand’s strong marketing strategies, loyal customer base, and solid distribution network. With this, some start-up businesses never reach their breakeven point and thus cease operations due to losses. It does not, however, mean that the market is saturated. There is a place for smart and determined individuals who know how to deal with challenges. Those people who will not run away from challenges but face them head on and emerge with some lessons. The following are tips to keep your business strong during the startup stage.
- Prepare a Solid Plan
- Apply for Business Grants or Contests
- Use a Startup Incubator
- Offer Exemplary Services
- Partner with Like-minded People
- Set your Priorities
- Measure your Results
You need to understand your target market and the type of goods they require. Prepare a financial projection that shows what you expect after six months, one year and after three years. Develop a marketing plan that is likely to give you an edge over your competitors. The plan should state the number of personnel that you need, their skills and remuneration. You can start with a few employees and increase them gradually as the business grows.
Getting capital and funds to cater for operating costs are major limitations to the implementation of business ideas. Some businesses take months or even years before they start generating profits. Within this time, you need to pay employees, suppliers, and rent. Some people also have loans and consequent interest to pay on them. You will always be in debt if you are not careful and this will also affect the reputation of your firm. Business grants are ideal because they do not come at a cost. You must, however, prove that your business is worth the funding. Government and non-governmental organizations are good sources of business grants.
Some startups fail due to the lack of essential mentorship and guidance in their vulnerable stage. The business incubator can provide office space or even consultation. Your business will be able to focus on value addition without worrying about rent or cash flow. Some of the best incubators can be an established firm in your niche or a research university. You can leave the incubator once you feel that gained the needed experience to operate on your own.
Creating a loyal customer base requires patience and hard work. How do you convince people to buy your products and not those from the competitors or other established brands? Online businesses require an interactive website. Choose the right domain from a reputable web hosting company, like GoDaddy in the US, Heart Internet in the UK, or Domains4less in Australia/New Zealand, to ensure that your customer data is safe from third parties. Link your website to social media platforms, listen to customer’s comments and complaints and act accordingly. Most established companies do not listen to individual complaints, and you should use that weakness to your advantage. Take each complaint seriously and provide customized services. Flexibility is also among the top advantages of a small business, and you can easily switch products to fit rising demands and needs.
Partnering with established brands and other startups can keep your business strong during its developmental stages. Some can even advance funding for you which you can repay once the revenue stream is stable. A related company can see the value of your products and gain interest if it is likely to influence their business positively. You can even barter your services with interested companies in your industry. Some of the professionals you can exchange services with include accountants, sales people, legal counsel, and engineers.
A number of startups fail due to being overwhelmed. In the first few months, focus on creating rapport with customers rather than making profits. If you are in full-time employment, create time for your startup as well. It is also wise to keep the job and resign once you have a stable revenue flow.
You should evaluate the performance of your business based on your short-term and long-term goals. The goals should be realistic, that is, not over ambitious and not too low at the same timel. You can use free online tools to analyze the conversion rates.
Surviving the various stages of a startup and beyond in a technology niche requires patience, determination, and hard work. Check the business trends and provide products that keep you ahead of your competitors.