Every industry has its own rules and regulations; some more than others. Yet, what about the general rulebook for starting a successful small business — is there any? Some would say that starting a business is more like a marathon than a sprint; others will say that it’s like running a race against time, or like a football game, and so on. Still, these are all figures of speech, not general guidelines.
To find some actual, concrete directions, take a look at these eight essential rules for running a wildly successful business down below.
1. Conduct continuous market research
If there is demand on the market, then your competition must be doing something right — learn from them. Don’t be afraid to snoop around a bit to gather some valuable intel. The easiest way of doing this is by simply calling them up and acting as if you were a customer in need of their services; piece of cake.
Another way of getting some concrete results is by surveying your target audience as well. Once you understand what they truly want — and what makes them tick — you can design the perfect product with them in mind. That way you avoid a shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of scenario.
2. Leverage the use of technology
In the past, entrepreneurs had to do almost everything manually — by hand — from accounting and designing tasks to IT support. Luckily, today, we have loads of accounting and money management apps that do most of the invoicing and billing (automatically) for us. Moreover, by moving most of your business to the cloud, you no longer require costly desktop software and backups, thus greatly saving on IT costs. Overall, technology will make your life so much easier as an entrepreneur that you’ll start questioning whether that last clause you just signed was actually a pact with the devil, or not.
3. Always know where you stand
Starting a successful business takes a lot of capital. Yet, charging head-first into loan debt prior to knowing what your creditworthiness is like is never a good idea. Look for a free online credit score checker first to know exactly where you stand financially before making any investments you might later regret. Once you get a feel of your general spending power, you can start searching for optimal office space, equipment, etc. That way you don’t get to bite off more than you can chew, allowing you to allocate the resources at your disposal more sensibly.
4. Provide stellar customer service
Customer service can make or break a brand. In fact, 78% of customers bail out on their decision to make a purchase as a result of poor customer service, according to a study made by American Express.
Another study shows that the probability of you selling to an existing customer is around 60–70%, whereas it’s only 5–20% for their brand-new counterparts. Hence, making exceptional customer service your main objective goes without saying. Work on improving your mail and customer chat response times and try to be more lenient with your return policy; remember: the customer is always right.
5. Gather relevant feedback
Don’t request feedback from your customers just for the sake of asking; use it to your advantage. Apart from being heard, customers love it when brands truly understand them (and their needs). Use the insight you’ve gathered to tailor a product for the people, by the people and gain their undivided attention and loyalty. Make radical changes if need be and work on tweaking and modifying your product until you’ve achieved perfection.
6. Establish your online presence
The world of business operates a lot like the simulated reality in the Matrix movies. What happens to your virtual self also affect the real you, and vice-versa. Namely, if you have almost zero presence in the digital sphere, it’s like your business doesn’t even exist (in the real world). According to one survey, over 70% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase in a store. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you sell online services or not, you still need to create a professional-looking website for your business.
7. Expand your reach
Social media offers a lot of reach to first-time entrepreneurs. Engage your target audience, communicate with them on a daily basis, and create meaningful connections with your loyal customers. Don’t just look at the number of your followers — think quality over quantity. Provide them with some real value and they will pay you back in kind.
Overall, networking always you to build mutually beneficial relationships that will not only make your brand stronger but more recognizable as well; these partnerships include your loyal brand advocates, relevant industry influencers, and other brands.
8. Work on spreading brand awareness
As we’ve already established, customers love doing their online research. One of the things they look out for are product reviews. According to a recent survey, customers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over traditional advertising. Hence, you need to start building your reputation from the ground up.
Improve your customer service, redouble your marketing efforts, and give something back to the local community to spark that sweet word-of-mouth advertising.
If you followed these eight guidelines laid out in front of you, you should be well on your way to success. Keep up the good work and don’t look back; persistence is key.