Breaking into today’s crowded and competitive marketplace is daunting. From the moment you launch your business, you will be faced with an infinite number of decisions to make. Some of them are simple, such as which email client to use or which social media account your business needs, while others seem like they can make or break your business, such as which marketing strategy to pursue or which vendors to choose.
Some businesses will face challenges that others will not. E-commerce businesses need to worry about procurement and shipping, whereas web services companies will have to make decisions about servers and software.
But there are some decisions each and every entrepreneur must make, and these can often play a big role in determining the success of your business. One of these is lead generation and management. How are you going to find new customers? Pursuing the wrong audience or misunderstanding your sales funnel can be tragic for a small company, or even a big one.
Yet there are other decisions you will have to make that can have an equally significant impact on your business. Let’s take a look at these so that you can prepare yourself and choose the right course of action for your business.
#1 Your Ideal Customer
While it is true your ultimate goal is to sell as much as possible to as many people as possible, you need to first start small. This comes with being very specific and very clear about your audience and who you are going after.
For small or new companies, it is better to get started with a smaller base of dedicated customers than to cast a wide net and spread yourself too thin.
Think long and hard about what value your company offers. You should already have a pretty good idea of this, but try to fit it into someone’s life. What need or discomfort are you providing for?
From there, you need to get an idea as to who this person is. What type of life do they live? Where do they buy their stuff? And how do they find out about it? This last point is particularly important, as it will determine your marketing strategies moving forward and will ultimately help get interested customers in front of your products or services.
This is, in many ways, the most important decision you as an entrepreneur will need to make. Who are you going after? Once you decide this, lots of other things will fall into place. You’ll be able to ask yourself, “is this what my customer would want?” making decisions far easier.
#2 Hiring (Company Culture)
As you’ve likely already figured out, you can’t do this alone. What ultimately makes a company a success is the people who are working to make it go. Lots of other stuff goes into it, of course, but without a solid team, you’ll be in trouble.
So as an entrepreneur, you’re going to need to decide where you need help. But resources are tight, so you need to be sure you’re bringing in the right people. Because of this, perhaps the more important thing you’re going to need to decide is what kind of company you want to be. There is a lot of talks these days about culture. It’s not just corporate mumbo-jumbo. It matters. If the success of your company depends on the people who make it up, isn’t it important for you to figure out first what kind of people you want working for you?
One of the ways to be able to do this is to establish your company’s core values. Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, has said that he thinks this was one of the keys to his startup’s success. Having these values outlined, deciding what makes you, will make it much easier for you to vet potential employees. You can discuss with them about these values and evaluate their experience through this lens. Then, when you do hire someone, you know you’ll be getting a person who believes in the company and is willing to work hard to make its vision a reality.
#3 Automation and Outsourcing
It is tempting as an entrepreneur to want to keep everything in-house. It is normal to think you need everything under your control to make it run. But this is a mistake, and it will cost you time and a little bit of your sanity. The more time you spend on non-essential activities, or those that do not directly contribute to the company’s growth, the longer it will take for you to have success.
Automation and outsourcing are good ways to get stuff done while staying focused on what you need to do. But not everything can be farmed out. So, as an entrepreneur, you need to decide what you can pay people to do and what needs to be done yourself.
It may be hard at first, but if you maintain good relationships with third parties and do your homework about which types of automation will help you, you can free you and your employees up to focus on what really matters.
Marketing is everything. It is one thing to have a great product or service, but if you can’t get it in front of the right people, your days as a company will be numbered.
The decisions you will need to make regarding marketing relate back to knowing your target audience. You’ll need to do some research to find out how they find out about new products. This will let you know if you should be pursuing email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and so on. It may be that only one is worth your time, or it may be that you need a combination. Your decisions about marketing strategy should be researched-based, and if you do your research right, they should prove fruitful.
You’ll also need to spend some time deciding your branding strategy. What do you want people to think about when they think about your company? What do you want to be? What makes you different? How will you communicate it to your customers?
Answering these questions and then making decisions to bring this insight to life will have a tremendous impact on your business.
#5 What’s Your Endgame?
Lastly, one decision you need to make that you may not have ever considered is what you plan to do with your business down the road. Are you so in love with what you do that you want to do this for the rest of your life? If so, great, but you’ll need to start some long-term strategizing and investing so that the business can remain profitable throughout its existence.
Another option is to think about an exit strategy. While it might be tough to think about selling your business now, there may come a day when that makes sense. You’ll want to understand what makes a business valuable, and then you’ll want to implement steps to build your company in a way that increases its future value. Even if this isn’t your plan, it’s not a bad way to move forward. After all, a business worth buying is a business worth owning.
In the end, there are countless decisions you will need to make as an entrepreneur. On some days, there will be so many your head will spin. But not all decisions are going to be do-or-die. Some of them, such as those we’ve discussed, will certainly have a larger impact on your business, but if you approach them calmly and with an eye towards your future, you can expect success and will likely enjoy it.
About the Author:
Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service that specializes in the buying, selling and appraisal of small businesses. He acquired his first business at age 19 and was the runner-up in the Australian Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. Throughout his career, he has started and operated a number of his own businesses. Some of them were successful, and others were not, and this experience has helped him learn what entrepreneurs need to do. Now, he focuses on helping others have success with their own business. He has been featured and quoted in publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Entrepreneur and Business Insider. He is currently living in America.
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