Staying Afloat In Shark-Filled Waters: What You Really Need To Make Your Startup A Success

Getting ahead in business is tough. There’s an ocean filled with hungry sharks out there. Your competitors are ready to take you down in order to save themselves. In a world where few stay afloat, you need to make sure you’re on of the success stories. So, how do you do this? If you’re working on a new venture, these ideas may prove useful in the early days.


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Identifying a market

When you’re thinking about setting up a new business, try to identify a market straight away. Are you eager to provide a service? Or are you developing a product? Whichever route you go down, there needs to be a demand. Do people need what you’re creating? Or could it be the next must-have luxury that buyers want? Will people use the service you’re providing? Is there room for you in a crowded market?

If you’re sure that consumers are going to buy into your company, continue working on your development plan. If you look at what you’re offering and start questioning its worth or purpose, now is the time to reconsider. There’s no point in plowing hundreds of hours and a pot of money into something that isn’t going to work.

Market research is a useful means of gathering information about what people want. There are various methods you can use including focus groups, questionnaires, and surveys. You can also look into current buying trends and see how potential competitors are getting on.

If you take the time to carry out market research, make sure you utilize the results. There’s no point in having information in front of you if you’re going to ignore it. It may not be what you want to see, but there’s a reason businesses do it. If there’s no interest in your product, you may need to make changes. It’s better to realize this early on than to plug on with something that won’t fly off the shelves.

Plings youth project at Salford precinct. a volunteer fills out a questionnaire more info Amy Grimshaw / Foster PR / 020 7403 2230

Plings youth project at Salford precinct.
a volunteer fills out a questionnaire
more info Amy Grimshaw / Foster PR / 020 7403 2230

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Getting the word out there

Once you’re ready and raring to go, you need to spread the word. No business can succeed if nobody is aware of their presence. Consider strategies carefully. If you’re aiming at a local market, use marketing methods that are tailored to your client pool.

Think about opening a new hairdressing salon, for example. If your shop is located in a village, there’s little point in targeting people living in a big city 40 miles away. Post flyers through the doors in the surrounding streets. Put an advert in the local newspaper and any village publications. Hang posters in local shops, and leave leaflets at the post office or grocery store. You may find that these traditional approaches are more successful than a flashy social media campaign.


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In contrast, if you’re setting up a new advertising agency, you want to reach out to established businesses and new companies. Digital marketing techniques enable you to interact with vast numbers of people and establish a web presence. In this day and age, most people have tablets and smartphones. The sooner you can generate interest online, the better.

The aim of marketing is to get people talking about what you’re doing. Take the first example of the hairdressing salon. You want people to drive past, take note, and tell their friends. Offer discounts for first-time clients or recommend-a-friend deals. Provide incentives for customers who bring a promotional flyer, and set up a loyalty scheme.

You could offer £10 off after six appointments, for example. In the second example, the advertising agency, you’ll probably use different methods to create a buzz. Set up social media accounts, and think carefully about the content you post.

At first, you want to entice intrigued customers, so think about offers and incentives. Run competitions to encourage users to share and like your posts. Keep people interested with original material. Your posts should be relevant to your business, and they must cater to your market. You can run a social media campaign alongside other marketing ploys, including direct sales, email, and SMS marketing.


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Looking the part: your business, your team, and your product range

In our modern society, looks are everything. This doesn’t just apply to the catwalks and glossy magazines. You also need to make sure you take aesthetics and impressions into consideration in business. As a company executive, it’s your responsibility to ensure that anything related to your firm looks the part.

If you’re offering a product range, the visual appeal should be one of your most important considerations. You want to produce something that stands out on the shelves and urges buyers to choose your item over others.

Bear your target market in mind, and go for something original. Are you selling a new range of alcoholic drinks, for example? If you’re aiming for a consumer who drinks cocktails at trendy bars on Friday nights after work, looks are everything. You’re targeting a sophisticated market, so make sure your drinks are up to scratch. Go for classy, modern, stylish designs that catch the eye.

Think about your branding very carefully, and the presentation of the product. Do you want to go for a differently shaped bottle? Or are you eager to add a luxurious touch with expensive-looking packaging? If you are going for a luxe market, keep an eye on costs. You want your range to look fabulous on the shelves, but you also need to make a profit.

Make sure the branding and packaging work together. Are you using straplines, for example? If so, make them bold, but ensure that they’re catchy and, most importantly, relevant. When you’ve got branding ideas, find a packaging company and go through some different designs. Don’t stop until you find something that you are 100 percent happy with. It’s essential that you believe in the product. If you don’t, this will be obvious when it comes to selling.

It’s not just your product that has to create an impression. It’s also essential for you and your team to impress. Are you pitching to investors or attending networking events? If so, you should look smart, professional, and reliable. If you’re inviting clients to your offices, make sure they are clean and fresh. Nothing looks more unprofessional than messy desks and dirty floors.


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Pitching tips

Pitching for new business is no walk in the park. This is a high-pressure situation, which can make even the most confident and capable professionals crack. The key to successful pitching is knowing what you want to say and having passion for the product.

Before you start any presentation, prepare. Make sure you know the facts and figures. Rehearse what you’re going to say, and try and preempt questions you may be asked. Arrive early, compose yourself, and breathe deeply. Stay calm and be confident. You may feel like you can speak off the cuff, but take some prompt cards with you just in case.

When you’re talking, maintain eye contact with the panel. Inject energy and enthusiasm, and speak clearly. Don’t rush. If you feel yourself getting nervous, take a deep breath. At the end of your presentation, you may find that people want to ask questions. If somebody asks something, and you don’t know the answer, don’t panic. Take a moment to mull over your response and answer it as best you can.


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Staying ahead of the crowd

It’s brilliant to get off to a good start, but this is not enough to make your business dreams come true. The world of business never stands still, so you need to move with the times. It’s important to try and stay one step ahead of the crowd.

Once you’ve got a star product, think about how you could develop it or evolve your range to boost sales further. Aim to predict trends, and keep a close eye on what’s going on. You can do this by reading the papers, and following business blogs online. If you’ve got new ideas, go back to basics and test them on potential buyers.


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For many of us, launching our own business and watching it grab the headlines is a dream. In reality, the statistics show that many new businesses fail within the first two years. If you have designs on the big time, you need to dodge the obstacles and be wary of your competitors. Perhaps the most important thing to ensure is that you have a product or service that will appeal to your target market. If you can satisfy a need or give people what they want, you’re halfway there.

Once you’ve got this pinned down, you need to shout about your business from the rooftops. Set up a digital marketing strategy or adopt a local approach and stick to traditional methods. Tailor your campaign to what you’re doing, and who you’re trying to attract. Work on creating original, relevant and eye-catching branding, and make sure you have a strong identity. You want your range to be recognizable.

Pay attention to packaging and visual aesthetics. You may have the best idea ever, but if it’s tucked away in a horrible box, nobody’s going to buy it. When you have a product ready for market, sell it to the best of your ability. Practice pitching and presenting. Be confident and engaging, and show off your passion for the company.

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