Your new business is finally up and running and you feel like a kid in a candy store. You are happy, you have all your ducks in a row, and you feel ready for that first sale. Here are five things that you need to know in order to be successful in your business now and in the future.
It's About the Experience
Businesses thrive on customers having a great experience when buying a product or service, so it's up to you to make sure that this happens for the people that you serve. Make sure that your customer's journey is a pleasant one every single step of the way.
Providing a good experience for customers is important for future growth and success because these customers are going to be able to speak well of their experience with your business. They're also the customers most likely to come back repeatedly. The way you approach customers and communicate your brand can greatly impact your success. If you’re struggling with business growth, then you may want to examine your marketing strategy. Ultimately, customer experience is what will drive your business forward.
Reputation is Important
Being able to manage your online reputation is important if you want to have a successful business. Once you've established a solid customer base, ask these customers to review you on outlets like Google and Yelp. Also, you can politely invite them to send in video testimonials of their experiences with your business, which you can use for marketing on your website.
By utilizing customer testimonials to manage your reputation, you'll be able to gain new customers faster because you have built a trust factor with your audience. If you're concerned about asking your customers for testimonials, don't be. Your customers will love to be involved in the process of your success and offer you their perspective on their positive experience in working with you.
Your Mindset Holds the Key
Some people say that the key to success is knowing how to make a sale. The true key to success is in your mindset.
Your mindset holds the key to your ability to be able to market yourself well to your target audience. If you have limiting beliefs on how many sales per month you can make or how many clients you can work with in one year, then you'll see that come to fruition in your business. Train your mindset so that you're setting yourself up for success and eliminating limiting beliefs from the get-go.
Your Business Shouldn’t Be a Replica of Someone Else’s
It's very easy when you're starting out in business to play the comparison game. Especially if your business is a year old or younger.
There may be people who have been in business at the same time as you and you see them and feel like they're crushing it with their sales goals and client testimonials and pretty photo shoots.
The truth is, your business shouldn't be a replica of anybody else's business. Your business is a living, breathing entity of its own that is specific to you and how you operate and who you serve. Don’t try to copy someone else.
Be at Peace with Failure
While you may feel like failure is one of the worst things that can happen in your new business, that could not be further from the truth.
Use failure as a stepping stone to learn what you need to know to run your business successfully. Everything in your business that doesn't work out the way you expected it to has a solution on the other side of it.
By using these five things as guideposts in your business, you're setting yourself up for success and less frustration when failure hits.
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If your marketing strategy is older than three years, it could be time for an update. Moreover, if you find your messaging is not getting the results you want, maybe it's time to go back to basics. If you work on the fundamentals of a good marketing strategy, then the results should fall in place.
Revisit Your Audience Personas
It's vital for your company to understand the likes and dislikes, backgrounds, age groups, political affiliations, dreams, and aspirations of your ideal audience persona. Consider the type of audience that would be the best match for your product and/or service. If you haven't evaluated your audience personas in years, now is the time for an overhaul — especially if your products and services have changed over time. If something isn't "clicking" with your marketing, this may be the step you need to get back on track. You can then use your updated audience personas to get back in sync with their needs and wants. Sundance explains that all this information is vital to understanding how to interact meaningfully with your target market.
Understand Your Product and Service
For this step, perhaps you should take another look at analyzing your product and service. What market need does it meet? How is it unique from similar products and services? What sets it apart from your competitors? No one can market your product and service better than your company can. While you do need customer advocates, the basics of product marketing starts with your understanding. If sales have stalled and you feel like you don't know where to take your marketing campaign, then it may be time for a refresh. Digital Marketing Training Group recommends participating in ongoing training to stay up to date on the latest trends and standards in the digital marketing industry. You can then apply your knowledge in furthering your marketing goals.
Get to Know Your Competition
When getting back to marketing basics, your company might be so focused on your product line and customers that you forget any other obstacles that might be lurking around. MarketResearch.com warns that one such hurdle in your quest for market domination would be your competitors. It is critical to get to know your competition. You can learn from their mistakes and avoid similar pitfalls.
You can also gain a better understanding of why your target audience might purchase from them instead of your company. In addition, you might learn from their successes and apply some of their winning strategies. Not to mention, you can study their segment of the marketplace to find any opportunities to sell more of your products and services.
Embrace Strategic Partnerships
In order to grow, some companies need to find allies. For instance, if you look at the history of McDonald's, Ray Kroc partnered with local bakeries throughout the nation to ensure a consistent baked product for every McDonald's franchise. As far as your company stands, think of a partnership that can work in a mutually beneficial way. If your company sells lipstick, you might partner with an eye shadow brand to sell kits instead of individual pieces. In terms of marketing, you and your partner benefit from exposure to new consumers.
There you have it, the basics of marketing. At times, going back to basics is all it takes to get your company moving in a forward direction once more.
Businesses are often guilty of wasting a lot of money throughout the year. In many instances, the money is spent without even realizing that there is a better alternative. Understanding the ways that businesses waste money will allow you to see what opportunities exist within your own operations.
New technology is available to provide higher productivity, more analysis of financials, and other tasks. Much of the new fintech is causing disruption, which leads to companies not able to adapt failing. Big data, for example, is where many businesses fail to adapt. You can save a lot of time while obtaining more valuable information about trends by learning how to work with big data. Further, CRM and ERP systems can be implemented as a way of improving customer service, eliminating data redundancy, and providing access to information from any mobile device.
Poor Marketing Strategies
Marketing tends to be a black hole when it comes to spending. Businesses know that they need to market but aren’t doing so effectively. Many fail to establish a target audience, so their campaigns aren’t capturing the interest of the audience that is most likely to do business with them. Further, every campaign needs to be analyzed to see whether the desired return on investment is being achieved. Certain marketing strategies tend to have a higher return on investment. For example, effective SEO increases conversions and lowers advertising costs. By understanding marketing ROI, you can change strategies or tweak campaigns so that they are more successful.
Businesses of all sizes tend to get sloppy with their finances. This is particularly true of small businesses because they take on the mindset that they can do it all. As a result, they struggle with knowing what they’re spending against their budget. They may also be unsuccessful at collecting all income that is owed because of not having the time to send out invoices and follow-up statements. Many businesses may not even realize they can get many tax breaks and credits and miss out on thousands of dollars. DIY accounting strategies simply aren’t effective for the long-term. Implementing a bookkeeper to help with all of the bookkeeping can make it easier to tighten spending and see where money is being spent on a more regular basis.
In the end, there are a lot of ways to avoid spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. You don’t want to waste money when there are ways for you to improve your operations, explore new technology, market effectively, and tighten your spending with the help of a bookkeeper.
Looking for more financial advice? Dive into The Money Idea here!
Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
A Breath of Fresh Air: 7 ways to refresh your small business
7 ways to refresh your small business
(Family Features) Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
Reset short-term goals. Get to the root of the reasons you’re looking to refresh in the first place. Focus on what you’d like to change in the not-so-distant future and how you can accomplish it. Also make sure your short-term goals keep you on track for the long-term goals already established for your business.
Refresh online materials. In today’s digital world, consumers have high expectations. Maybe your website is outdated, can’t keep up with traffic or, worse, is nonexistent. Freshen things up with a redesign or even just slight tweaks to make it easier for customers to navigate. For a simple solution, consider adding a blog section where new content can be posted weekly or monthly to give customers a reason to return and to help build your search engine ranking for specific keywords.
Rethink storefronts. To help consumers make the most of their time, small business owners are partnering with other businesses to include their services under the same roof. For example, The UPS Store has a re-engineered model that exists within other retailers, such as pharmacies, hardware stores or grocery stores, that still provides all the services consumers would find at a traditional store.
“Our store-in-store model offers a smaller footprint store that still provides all of the services people need,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise and business development with The UPS Store. “This is an opportunity for an existing business to set itself apart from the competition and offer added value to customers as a one-stop shop, where customers can conveniently take care of multiple tasks at once.”
With customer convenience also in mind, the model also includes updates in traditional stores to incorporate technology and other contemporary elements, including features like smart lockers, digital signage, print consultation workstations and self-service options available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Replace outdated strategies. If your business has been in operation for a while, there’s a chance your previously successful marketing strategies may be a bit out of touch. Consider your target audience and the ways you’re most likely to reach those consumers. For example, social media is a must to keep up with competition and there are ways you can amp up your strategy in the ever-evolving social space. Whether it’s posting short factoids, long-form information, links to online content or simple images of your products, it can be a productive way to reach your audience.
Reconnect with consumers. If overhauling marketing strategies or diving headfirst into social media seems like a stretch for your small business, start small. Simply reconnecting with loyal customers may be just what’s needed to rejuvenate the buzz surrounding your company. Try holding a contest for the best customer-submitted content to use online, or create a giveaway for a randomly chosen commenter on your latest social posts. These types of online conversations can attract consumers who may have been previously unaware of your goods or services.
Revive printed materials. Business cards, flyers, banners, posters, newsletters and any other type of printed materials may be the first impression potential customers have of your company. Using professional, well-designed printed items to let customers know what you do, like those available through The UPS Store, can convey the correct message to consumers that your products or services can meet their needs. Whether you think slight tweaks to your current materials will suffice or a more drastic redesign is necessary, it can help to ask friends, neighbors and even current clients and customers how they feel about the materials you’re using. Pay attention to layout, headlines, colors, white space and even font choices.
Rebrand your business. It may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly can be, but rebranding your business doesn’t have to mean changing the company name or rethinking product lines. Simply updating logos to appear more modern or rethinking an overused slogan can give your business a fresh vibe. Remember that enhancing the look of something seemingly as small as your logo can make a big difference, especially considering that image is likely the first thing a consumer sees when visiting your social pages or website.
Even companies experiencing success should often weigh the pros and cons of refreshing certain business elements to keep things impactful for current and potential customers. Find more tips and ways to improve your small business at theupsstore.com.
How Retailers Can Put Convenience First
In the race to nab consumers’ attention (and dollars), retailers need to be increasingly creative. Some of the more successful efforts show that retailers must recognize the value shoppers place on convenience. Look for ways to boost convenience for your consumers, such as:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
Entrepreneurship is alive and well, even if the face of small business is evolving with the times. Autonomy in management and making dreams a reality are the reasons most cited by entrepreneurs looking to open a small business. This action plan can help you get you on your way to launching a successful start-up.
Be Your Own Boss
7 tips to help you launch a successful business
(Family Features) Entrepreneurship is alive and well, even if the face of small business is evolving with the times. Autonomy in management and making dreams a reality are the reasons most cited by entrepreneurs looking to open a small business.
However, how Americans are choosing to open small businesses is where there may be a shift.
“Consumer habits are changing,” Pittaway said. “That’s forcing Americans to consider how they open small businesses, whether it’s focusing more on e-commerce than actual store fronts or focusing on selling to a local community or region instead of a broader national audience.”
Starting Your Own Start-Up
“We understand the challenges of small business owners and offer products and services designed specifically to help and support small businesses,” said Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, Inc. “Small business owners are unparalleled in their passion for their businesses, and understanding that aspiration is critical to running a successful small business.”
This action plan from the experts at The UPS Store can help you get you on your way to launching a successful start-up:
1. Analyze your target audience.
2. Determine a legal structure.
3. Establish your premises.
4. Determine your budget and expenses.
5. Develop a business plan.
6. Set up a marketing plan.
7. Be competitive.
With a carefully structured action plan, you can turn your start-up idea into a successful business. Find more tips for your small business at TheUPSStore.com.
Pitch your small business like a Pro
When you’re launching a small business, there could be any number of reasons you may need to pitch your idea. You may be courting an investor, recruiting talent or even starting to market your product or service. Brevity is often essential, so learn how to concisely pitch your business like a pro with these tips:
Draw out the essentials. Reduce your pitch to a few digestible bites. Make sure you have an intro that is brief enough to get someone’s undivided attention then elaborate on your points, such as your top competitive advantages, and provide more detail about your business as a whole.
Come to entertain. Add an entertainment factor to make your pitch engaging and memorable. Of course, you need substance to go along with style, but keeping your audience focused and doing something to stand out is essential.
Anticipate questions. Prepare yourself to reassure concerned investors and flesh out subjects you may have kept brief for your presentation. Make sure to practice your answers so you sound confident. Grabbing attention is important, but you need to be able to back up your spiel.
Know your audience. This is the cardinal rule of communication. Make sure you do your homework and know who you are addressing. This shows you value your listener’s time and feedback. Furthermore, insight about his or her philosophy in doing business can be extremely valuable during a pitch.
Practice until it hurts. Take the time to practice your entire pitch, including answers to likely questions, until you know it inside and out. The more comfortable you are, the more likely you are to win someone over in a meeting.
Have the materials to back it up. A written document is your chance to leave a lasting impression and elaborate on your major selling points. It’s also a chance to show your professionalism, so be sure to proofread carefully and package the information for a polished presentation.
Find more resources to help get your small business off the ground at theupsstore.com/smallbiz.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
Creating a business from the ground up is no small endeavor. From planning to financing to putting standard business services in place, there’s a lot to tackle. To overcome these obstacles, franchising is an ideal solution for many aspiring business owners. While it provides the advantages of business ownership, franchising also offers numerous benefits, such as these.
Build a Business Your Way
(Family Features) Creating a business from the ground up is no small endeavor. From planning to financing to putting standard business services in place, there’s a lot to tackle. All of that is in addition to operating the day-to-day business.
To overcome these obstacles, franchising is an ideal solution for many aspiring business owners. It provides the advantages of business ownership, but with the added support of a recognized brand and an established method of doing business. Partnering with a franchise like The UPS Store offers numerous benefits.
Flexibility. Opening a franchise allows you to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of making your own business decisions and being your own boss, while working toward your goals of personal and financial independence at your own pace.
Start-up resources. Getting a new business off the ground requires a wide range of activity, from site selection and lease negotiation to hiring and training staff. A franchise can help you navigate these early decisions and needs with a deep pool of experience and knowledge to help overcome the hurdles you may encounter.
Training. Even a well-educated business owner has room to learn. With a franchise, you have the opportunity to receive in-depth training in areas such as business operations, technical systems, human resources, marketing and financial management.
Networking opportunities. Connecting with other franchisees at area meetings, regional conferences and national conventions helps you stay informed of industry trends, discover new tools and resources, and develop lasting relationships with fellow franchisees. The result is a peer group that has intimate knowledge of your business model that can serve as a valuable resource as your business grows.
Product development. Part of developing your business is understanding your customers’ needs and introducing new products and solutions. As a franchise owner, you can contribute insight to the process but focus on running your business while development experts dedicate themselves to researching and innovating new products and services that can help you better serve your customers.
Marketing support. Many franchises conduct national advertising campaigns to build brand awareness, while regional efforts and local store marketing can build excitement in your market. A layered marketing plan extends the reach of your marketing budget and lends credibility to your business.
Financing assistance. Funding your franchise according to your unique goals and background can help eliminate many of the financial pitfalls that those without experience or industry expertise may encounter.
Learn more about franchising and the options available to aspiring small business owners at TheUPSStoreFranchise.com.
A Milestone Accomplishment
A focus on small business is driving big results for one national retailer. The nation’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, print and business service centers, The UPS Store, Inc., is now 5,000 locations strong.
“The UPS Store network is made up of dedicated individuals and families who are committed to serving small business owners, customers and their communities,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise development for The UPS Store. “We look forward to welcoming more franchisees into our network as we continue to challenge ourselves to find new ways we can bring convenience and value to our customers.”
Over the years, the retail concept has expanded to include a range of solutions for small business owners, creating a one-stop shop for small-business support. Small business owners can find resources such as notary services, shredding, mailbox and locker rental, and, in some cases, even inventory management solutions, as well as the packing and shipping services that business and non-business customers alike can utilize.
5 Tips for Creating a Business Plan
Once you’ve settled on a business model that meets your needs, developing a business plan is an essential next step. These five tips can help you get started:
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (women with clipboard, man with open sign)SOURCE:
The UPS Store
(BPT) - Over the past decade, technology has reshaped the retail industry in profound ways. Ninety-six percent of Americans are now shopping online, according to a recent study from CPC Strategy. Which means today’s business leaders face increasing pressure to keep retail spaces relevant and engaging for customers.
One solution to captivating today’s consumer is a simple one: Build meaningful connections with local communities, says Etienne Veber, president of Field Trip Factory, a firm that helps design, schedule and promote interactive learning experiences within retail environments.
“Technology provides greater convenience and lower prices,” Veber says, "but it is not a replacement for human interactions."
The increasing lack of human connections in our daily lives represents a unique opportunity for retailers to thrive in today's environment, he says, by identifying their core values and concerns, and then expressing them through meaningful learning experiences and a deeper sense of community.
"We learn by doing, and retail environments can be incredibly powerful as teaching platforms,” Veber says.
The value of purpose
When companies express a sense of purpose to their customers, it has a profound effect on the confidence in the brand. Eighty-five percent of companies with a strong sense of purpose say they are backed by their communities, because they are seen as “good and helpful corporate citizens,” according to a survey by Deloitte.
Furthermore, 89 percent of firms with a purpose say clients and customers trust the quality of their products and services — versus the 66 percent of firms that do not have this sense of purpose.
As a way to demonstrate its commitment to its local communities, multi-format food retailer Giant Eagle, Inc. developed an interactive program that connects with local school children. “Be A Smart Shopper” helps young students and their families learn about making healthy food choices.
Over the years, it has been a very effective way for Giant Eagle’s retail Team Members to uphold the company’s common purpose to improve people’s everyday lives and well-being in a community-centered way, and so far more than 600,000 families have been reached across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Educators love the program because it supplements the classroom curriculum and gets their students really engaged. Ninety-five percent of them are planning to come back with their students next year!
“Our Be A Smart Shopper program is an important part of how we fulfill our commitments to education and health and wellness,” says Giant Eagle CEO Laura Karet. “Through the program, our retail Team Members are able to meaningfully impact how the children in our communities think about the foods they eat, and encourage involvement from the children in family meal planning.”
Expressing purpose in the retail space
A retailer can build trust and loyalty by expressing their values in innovative ways. Their stores are more than places to shop. They can build opportunities right in the towns and cities in which they serve.
Host in-store classes and events: Business leaders, store managers and longtime employees, with their industry knowledge, are community gurus. With that mindset, what better way to connect with the community than to open the doors for an on-site event? Things like hands-on demonstrations, seminars, consultations and even heading up an ongoing club are all engaging ways to share knowledge and help people solve their most common pain points.
Champion local causes: Transform company values and industry knowledge into a community asset, and direct resources to solve problems in the community. Reaching out to local nonprofits, being a major sponsor to make a local event even bigger and better, or paying employees for their time to volunteer are all ways a brand can build a meaningful community presence.
Find a partner: Most businesses do not have the in-house expertise to organize, plan and publicize in-house events and initiatives, which is why some turn to a trusted partner for expertise in that field. For example, as Giant Eagle planned its Be A Smart Shopper Program, Field Trip Factory took the lead with the curriculum (with input from educators), and created the online tool that makes it easy for teachers to discover the program and sign up their class for an event. Each participating store can easily set its availability on the Field Trip Factory platform and these educational events take place without disrupting their day-to-day business activities.
Today’s retail climate is a uniquely challenging one, due to the rise in technology. To learn more about finding opportunities to engage with customers and communities, visit fieldtripfactory.com.
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