5 Tips for Business Success

Small Business - October 26, 2020
Small business owner reviewing new orders on laptop

Tips for successful launch beyond forming an entity

Every new business begins with hope and expectation; unfortunately, most startups are soon hit with a harsh dose of reality as to the challenges that come with building and growing a business. Running a business is hard, else we would see more people starting their own company and greater numbers succeeding.

That doesn’t mean you should give up, or not try at all to turn your ideas into a business. Rather, you need to prepare with as much knowledge and planning as before getting started. While there isn’t a magic formula, there is plenty of conventional wisdom that can help set you on the right path.

1. Find a niche and solve a problem

We’d all love to be the person who invents the product used by every man, woman, and child the world over, but that’s a hard mark to hit, especially out of the gate. More likely is finding a small sliver of the whole to appeal to with what you create—an industry, or even a fragment of that industry. Your product may dictate where it’s best suited for, or if not, you can tailor it to appeal to an under-served part of the market.

What you create and sell should be something that people need, something that solves a pressing problem. Think about our own lives; how often have we decided to forego a product because, as nice as it would be to have, we didn’t really need it? And how often have we jumped on products that solved a vexing problem for our personal or professional lives? Convincing customers to part with their hard-earned money requires making a compelling case, and few things are as compelling as solving a need they can’t solve themselves. 

2. Protect yourself and your ideas

For all of the effort, you pour into your new business, you don’t want that work undermined by the loss of your underlying ideas, and you certainly don’t want your professional exploits to put your personal assets at risk.

It’s smart to work with a lawyer to create a business entity to protect you and your family’s financial assets against any commitments or liabilities on behalf of your business. There are different options for entities depending on the particulars of your situation, but make sure you’re separating your business from your personal to protect your family against possible financial ruin.

Failing to protect the intellectual property (IP) you’ve created with confidentiality agreements, patents, trademarks, and copyright puts your business at a similar risk. Without protection, your ideas are susceptible to theft. Your IP is what your company is built upon; protect it as such by seeking out an attorney’s help.

3. Make smart hires

If your IP is the foundation of your business, your team is the bricks and mortar you lay upon it. You have the vision, but you will need help in implementing and executing it. Great hires can take tasks off your plate to exceed what you ever thought possible with your company, but bad hires, particularly at an early-stage startup with few employees, can hamstring your company from achieving its goals and targets.

Hiring is about striking the right balance: finding the right skills while also looking at the person in their entirety. New businesses require creativity, flexibility, and dedication, and an ability to work as a team without rubbing others the wrong way. In looking at candidates, select people who are comfortable stepping outside their assigned role and are willing to do what it takes to help the company and the team.   

4. Create an email list and a marketing plan

All of your work is for naught if no one knows about it. Marketing is recognized as an important part of any business, but it requires a well-considered plan for how you’re going to drive people to your website, products, or store. Every business wants an email list for its launch, but be cautious about how you go about obtaining it; purchased lists can result in spam reports and angry emails, and that’s hardly the way to start a new brand identity.

Marketing is hard amid the noise of the internet, but it’s the best way to reach the most people. However you go about advertising—paid ads, social media, blogging—have an idea of what you want to tell people and measure the effectiveness of each of these methods.

5. Have a goal: start with the end in mind

You want to start your own business, but what exactly do you want to do with it and where do you want to end up? It might not seem like a pressing question amid all the other concerns a startup presents, but your long-term goals can and should shape your decisions along the way. It doesn’t particularly matter what the goal is—it’s equally fine to be looking for acquisition as it is to be seeking to make your business viable and successful for years to pass onto the family. What matters is that you’re clear about what you’re working towards, as are the people working for you. Even if your goals change, be sure to keep them in front of mind to stay on the right path. 

Knowing what to do isn’t a guarantee of success, but doing the right things will have you in a better position to succeed, and with all the uncertainty that comes with a new business, that’s all any startup founder can ask.

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