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So You’ve Got Your Startup Started. Here’s What Happens Next

It may have been a long journey to get to this point. And it may have been the result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But your startup has blossomed. After months of careful nurturing, you finally have your name on the door of your own business. You may not have a huge number of clients yet, but you’re certainly building a list little by little. Most importantly, you can see money coming in. You may already be turning a profit, or at least seeing your investment paying off.

Starting a business can sometimes feel like a huge gamble. You may have quit your regularly paying job to deepen your commitment to what you really want in life. Tightening your belt while working harder than you have ever known is not easy. It takes tenacity and drive. And it takes a firm belief that you can do it. You can turn nothing into an empire. Why not? You’ve got this far. It’s time to push forward.

Whether you had a bumpy start with a few trials and errors, or it has been a slow and steady slog to this point, you can’t sit back now. It’s time to really go to work and drive your business on to success. Are you ready?

Look After Your Current Clients

You may not have many, but these are the people you have to look after the most. These early clients are the ones that had faith in you to deliver your product or service as expected. So now it’s time to go beyond their expectations. It’s time to drive them to regale their delights to their friends, their followers, and their colleagues. These early adopters of your offerings are the ones that could spread the good word to your next wave of clients.

This CRM or Customer Relationship Marketing is a hugely valuable tool that you need to set up in the early days of your business. Collect customer email addresses and other contact details. You will also need to gain their approval to contact them for non-support communications. Not everyone is willing to do this, but you may be able to foster a more positive agreement if you offer something in return.

Customer service is an essential part of any successful business. You must be available and easy to contact if your clients or customers have questions or problems. Sure, some may be unhappy for some reason. But if you don’t turn their mood back to a more positive one, your business could suffer the loss of a client. You want each and every customer to be a customer again and again. Repeat business is easier to get than new business.

Understand Your Market

Your business sits in a pond (or ocean) of many other businesses like yours. Do you know how far it reaches? The service you provide may be provided by many others. But there are probably many related products or services that could sit under the umbrella of your market, sector or industry.

It’s also important to understand how this sector or market relates to the consumer. Are your products considered essentials, like FMCG? Perhaps you manufacture luxury items like high-end jewelry or perfume? What do your customers look for in a company like yours? Why would they choose one over another?

There will, of course, be changes and challenges to any market. What threatens yours? Is it overcrowded, or is there room for growth? Understanding your market inside and out gives you the power to interpret market shifts. You can respond to changes, and exploit areas your competitors are missing.

Understand Where Your Business Fits In The World

Understanding your market can help you understand where your business fits in the world. Is it a one-man-band type of company that doesn’t need to grow? Or is it in a sector where the size of the corporation is essential to client satisfaction? Perhaps you have your eye on dominating your local community as the best restaurant in town? Or maybe you have your sights set on becoming the biggest brand in three international territories?

Your area of expertise will lead your business in a certain direction. Where that fits in the big wide world will depend on the markets that are open to you, and your dreams and desires. It’s important you know your limits so you’re not spread too thinly. But dreaming big can be a great motivator to push you forward toward world domination.

Tighten Your Goals

For now, it’s important to focus on what you have right now in the real world. You may have spent months putting your website together. You've gathering followers on FaceBook, and developed a couple of adverts. But as more and more enquiries convert to customers, you should start seeing patterns. Some of the products or services you provide are doing better than others. These are the ones to focus on right now.

Go through your website and tighten up the copy. It should lean toward and highlight those products and services that have had the most appeal so far. Make it your goal to push what’s working really hard. Your other offerings can take a back seat right now. In the future, these will be your secondary services or part of your market expansion plan. Right now, you have customers buying one or two particular products. Encourage feedback and reviews so you can use this to sell even more.

Start Your Marketing Plan

Your website and its updates should form a core part of your marketing plan. However, you’re a busy business owner. It’s not possible to take on every task a business needs. It’s time to find some specialist help. Whatever sector your business is in, you will be able to find a marketing agency that specialises in it too. Companies like Cosmetic Funnels provide support to businesses in narrow sectors by managing their marketing campaigns.

 

If you don’t have a full marketing plan yet, it is worth spending some time developing one. Marketing goes far beyond advertising and promotion. Your campaigns should build your brand. They can inform the public about new products and services, and provide the core of your business strategy. If you’re not well versed in what marketing is, how to do it, and how to control it, find a specialist who can.

Always Test And Analyse

Every marketing campaign should be tested, and the results analysed. An advert should generate a return on your investment. This return should be measurable. How are you going to achieve that? Unique phone numbers on your call to action can be one way. Unique URLs or landing pages can be helpful too. It may depend on your choice of medium or the message you’re sending out. If your business is focussed on a small geographic area, divide it up. Then you can test each section one at a time rather than throwing a lot of money into a bigger population.

Know Thy Enemy

Now you’ve got your business firmly established, you may have a better idea about how many competitors you may have. But have you really spent any time getting to know them? What do they do? How well do they do it? How are they better than you? And how can you be better than them?

Keep on top of their latest product offerings and promotions. You may be asked to price match by customers shopping around. Can you do this? Always know what your break-even point and profit margins are. Customers want rapid responses! Focus groups or surveys of customers who have used your competitor’s services can sometimes help. Or simply ask your competitor directly! You never know, a collaboration could prove profitable for you both.

Give It Away

Customers are very driven by freebies. This can include customers who never considered the kind of product you offer before. Or it may appeal to customers who prefer a competitor brand. It can build brand loyalty, and it can increase enquiries or a data list. Blogs are a great example of freebies that can convert a reader to a customer.

Free gifts, merchandise, and information are often highly sought after. You may have a blog or newsletter. Perhaps you regularly attend local community events with merchandise to give away. Adding a free gift for sign-ups in your adverts can also help increase conversions. You may be able to build a name for yourself if you are considered a specialist or authority voice by the press. If you can comment on something newsworthy, journalists will often print your name and business address.

Get Some Help!

Now you are a fully fledged business, it is probably time to get some help. You have a lot to do to start building your brand and marketing your products. Admin or PA staff can be enormously helpful when you are swamped with paperwork. Remember where your skills and strengths lie. If you are a cosmetic surgeon, that should be what you spend your days doing, not running around producing artwork for adverts. Call in the professionals, and get on with what you do best.

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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