Starting a business is surely not for the fainthearted, why, there are days that all you would want to do is crawl under the carpet and hide. There will be unending demands from customers, long days, and many sleepless nights. Notwithstanding, it will all be worth it in the end if you stick it out.
The good news is, there are universal principles that if imbibed consistently will skyrocket your startup into a profitable enterprise in no distant time. The key is to be focused and consistent in applying these principles.
In the words of Dave Thomas, founder of Wendys, “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer and have a burning desire to succeed”. A profitable business does not fall from the skies, you need to have a plan, be strategic, and never, ever, give up on your business to succeed.
In this article, I have shared a few of these powerful secrets any startup owner should know to grow a thriving business in any industry.
1. Go deep on market research
As a startup owner, the odds are already against you. Trust me, It’s not a pleasant journey to compete against the big boys in the market if you don’t know your onions. That is why market research is imperative before you invest fully. Since your product is to be used by people, you should invest more to know who your target market is and what they want and desire.
This is when you diligently investigate who your ideal consumer should be. Your customer avatar may be males of a particular age, teenagers, or even babies.
Next, is to identify what this class of people really want and how best to satisfy them. This can be done by product testing. Create a prototype of your product and test run it on a small segment of your target market. You can then modify your product based on the outcome.
2. Capitalize on your competitive edge
Every line of business has its competitors, therefore you have to identify your unique selling point and go hard on it.
What is that innovative feature your business uses that your competitors do not apply yet? Maybe, a new style of product delivery or an added advantage to your product. There must be something your brand has that eases stress or makes your customer more comfortable. That is your competitive advantage.
The point is, what can your startup do better and probably at less cost than your competitors? Amplify it and you’ll never have to close your doors.
3. Do not focus on profit alone
Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO said, “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you”
Ideally, your focus should not be on making profit as a startup owner; your priority should instead be on satisfying your customers by giving them raw value.
After giving your market what it wants, you must leave no room for unsatisfied customers (although, this is unavoidable in business). Focus on continual product development and be customer-centric always. If you can, give your customers a better experience than they would receive from patronizing renowned brands in your industry. Your focus should be building customer loyalty as a startup, in the long run, they will keep coming back to your brand and that’s where all the profit really is.
However, this does not mean your startup should be running at a loss either. Just be conscious of what your customers are dying to have in your line of business and voila, the money is all yours.
4. Have a workable business map
A business map or plan is a strategic layout that tells you where next to go from each milestone after opening a business. It naturally contains your business goals and how you intend to get there which will help keep you on track. It also increases your chances with investors.
However, it is important to note that your business plan should be strategic as well as scalable as you are still new to the environment and will definitely encounter some unforeseen challenges. Your business plan should be able to scale through under such circumstances.
5. Leverage to complement your strengths
As a new business owner, you do not know everything nor can you run the business sufficiently by yourself. Therefore, it is prudent to Leverage other people’s time, experience and expertise so you don’t have to do everything by yourself.
Where the opportunity presents itself, also leverage on connections with thriving business owners for advice and support. You could employ reliable people to handle your financials and maintain a network of business-savvy people. As well as build lasting partnerships with complementary businesses in your field.
The rule of thumb is to identify your strengths and focus on them, while you employ competent human resources to fill in for your weaknesses. For example, a weakness might be managerial skills you could leverage on people who are trained for this role, this will help your business grow.
Lastly, build a healthy relationship with your team and ensure everyone is committed to the company’s objectives.
6. Listen to the market
It is natural to love your product but be open to modification, especially from your target market.
To grow your startup into a profitable business you need to be flexible. Observe the market trends, take customer reviews seriously; create a strategic customer interaction channel through which your consumers can communicate with you after buying from you. In the same vein, never be found wanting in poor quality of after-sales services.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” said Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft. If your product can satisfy one customer, there is every tendency of a sustained relationship which means more sales. Always be ready to respond to the rapidly changing tone of the market.
7. Keep detailed financial records
To ensure your startup is making profit it is advisable to maintain a complete set of financial records. Always keep an updated list of all your assets and liabilities, recurring payments, and anticipated revenues.
Ascertaining how much is coming in and going out on a periodical basis is crucial because you can easily tell whether or not you’re making profit. As well as determine the financial position of your business at a glance.
8. Plough back profits
Determine those areas of your business that need more financing and reinvest into them. For example, product development might need more financing, increasing your staff strength, getting insurance coverage for your assets, or improving marketing channels.
Whatever you decide on should be a vital part of your business that will in the long run benefit your business growth and bring more sales.
9. Be innovative
Research what your competitors are doing and devise ways to do things differently. Give your product some distinctive quality that stands you apart from the rest. Go all out to expand on existing products in a way that appeals to your customers. Finally, engage committed people who are driven towards change, especially with your market in view.
In addition, sincere commitment and focus are needed especially in the early stages of your business to grow into a profitable venture.