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.
(BPT) - A challenge for any entrepreneur is getting access to capital. If you’re like many, you’re constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses and free up cash flow so you can be ready for anything, whether it’s a slow season or an opportunity to expand.
When tax season rolls around, you’re already taking a deep dive into your expenses and income for the past year. Don’t stop when you file. With all that information at your fingertips (and fresh in your mind), it’s a great opportunity to take a big-picture look at the health of your business and make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible.
Use the following tips to take your tax preparation efforts a step further and boost your cash flow in the upcoming year.
Dust off your business plan: No doubt when you started out in business, you were eager to put your vision to paper. Most entrepreneurs get busy with the day-to-day pressures of deadlines, and that vision can recede into the background. Schedule some time with your board members or business partners to revisit and update the business plan. Now that you understand the realities of your market, you should have plenty of ideas on creating the 2.0 version of your enterprise. When finished, it’s important to not allow it to gather dust again. Set goals and schedule check-in meetings with your team to make sure everything’s on track.
Update your budget: The nature of entrepreneurship is being agile in the face of change. Market trends, price changes from vendors and suppliers, effects of new laws and ordinances, even road construction are variable forces that can send anyone’s budget into a new direction. That’s why your budget isn’t ever going to be a spot-on prediction. Think of it as a plan. If you stay on top of it, you can spot the trends early and make adjustments right away so you can reap the full advantage — or head off problems before they become unmanageable.
Check your credit score: If you’re planning to raise capital to expand or make improvements in the next year, checking in on your credit score is an important first step you can take several months before you apply for the loan. Even if you have a business credit score, certain business loans still require a look at your personal credit score, especially if you’re a sole proprietorship. Visit Your.VantageScore.com to find free resources to learn your credit score. There’s also helpful information on what factors influence your score and things you can do that can help increase it over the coming months to help you get the best rate possible.
Create a tax strategy: The tax break Congress passed in December will save small business owners 20 percent on their tax bill this year. In the coming year, small business owners have many opportunities to capture more tax savings with the right plan and strategy. For example, if you’re planning a large equipment purchase, you may find yourself in a better tax bracket in 2019 if you time it before Dec. 31, rather than waiting until the following year as planned. Have a meeting with your accountant to discover more ideas.
Pay down debt: One way to use the windfall of your 20 percent tax savings is to pay down revolving loan debt. Doing so is a great way to raise access to working capital should you need it down the line. Depending on the source of credit, reducing your credit-to-balance ratio is one factor that could raise your credit score. Before you do so, make sure you have enough cash flow to meet your expenses.
Improve accounts receivable: If your business extends lines of credit to your customers, it may be worthwhile to implement a credit check policy on all new customers. Knowing they’re creditworthy before the fact can help you create the appropriate plan for them and protect your business. Credit reporting is also an effective way for even a small business owner to let customers know they are serious about collecting what’s owed. In the end, you’ll get paid faster and increase cash flow.
The life of an entrepreneur means things can change drastically on a dime. A thorough check-in with your finances can put you in the best position for success. To learn more about the tools and solutions offered by VantageScore, visit Your.VantageScore.com.
(BPT) - What’s better than being your own boss, setting your own hours, determining your own salary and having an office wherever you happen to be? It’s a Utopian idea that is reality for tens of thousands of people working independently in direct sales worldwide. But getting there isn’t easy. It takes grit to abandon the familiar grind and build a business — especially in direct sales.
Just ask Wayne Nugent, founder and chief visionary officer of WorldVentures(TM), the leading direct seller of travel and leisure club memberships. He got his start as a direct salesman and, after more than two decades in the business, he has seen it all. In that time, the industry has faced many challenges largely due to a minority of companies recruiting representatives, charging them large upfront fees and persuading them to purchase large volumes of nonreturnable inventory with little or no tangible value. Though many reputable companies exist today, mere mention of direct sales, multilevel marketing or network marketing can stir memories of the pyramid schemes and shattered dreams that made headlines in the past.
Nugent contends you can’t paint all network marketing companies with the same broad stroke. He created his company in 2005 to help people find fun, freedom and fulfillment through affordable travel with family and friends. The company’s success is based on the principle of work-life balance, a philosophy Nugent is spreading through a growing network of representatives who — in his words — Make a living … Living!(TM)
“I have a creation goal,” says Nugent, who also serves on the board of WorldVentures Foundation(TM), a nonprofit that supports sustainable programs for children in need worldwide. “If we get somebody making a little extra money per month, it gives them some financial breathing room. If they’ll pursue that with some consistency, and it’s fun, we can get them making more. At that point, they’re feeling abundant. So now, guess what they do? They give back. Network marketing makes this possible.”
On the move
According to the latest figures from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, global direct sales grew 7.7 percent in 2015, reaching a record $183.7 billion. The industry’s potential is particularly appealing to millennials now entering the workforce. These individuals born between 1977 and 2000 have witnessed their parents lose jobs despite devotion to their employers, then struggle to find work regardless of their education and experience. As a result, millennials embrace entrepreneurship as an alternate path to financial freedom.
The direct-to-consumer model has been leveraged successfully to sell goods and services in the cosmetics, household wares, nutrition, travel and technology industries for more than half a century. Growth and longevity aside, there are several reasons to consider a career in direct sales, including:
After you’ve taken the leap and joined a direct-selling organization, what’s next? You’ve probably heard it so much that it sounds cliché, but staying around the campfire is key. Partnering with others and plugging into the trainings can mean the difference between mediocrity and meteoric success.
Whether you want to earn supplemental income or replace your current salary, Nugent says, “If you lean in and give 100 percent, this industry has the power to support all aspects of your well-being — financial, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.”
(BPT) - Think sales numbers trump customer service? Think again. Research shows companies focused on providing a superior experience across the customer journey realized a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction and 10-15 percent increase in revenue. Furthermore, 45 percent of people will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. And perhaps the most shocking of all: It costs six to seven times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer.
Given these factors many companies are taking a closer look at their customer retention rates and evaluating the customer experiences they provide. To meet customers on their terms and facilitate employee productivity, it’s critical to invest in new technology. However, not all businesses have the internal IT resources or expertise to efficiently implement technology and effectively manage it on a continuous basis.
For these businesses, working with a trusted technology partner provides an easier route to weather the changes and delight customers. Numerous companies have worked with Dell to ensure they don’t have to worry about downtime or system failure. Dell ProSupport Plus, for instance, provides these companies with the highest level of hardware and software support so they can deliver the best experience to their customers. Powered by Dell’s SupportAssist technology, this support program not only helps resolve issues quickly and proactively, but can also prevent issues before they happen through predictive capabilities. This means less effort by IT staff and more peace-of-mind for both the company and their customers. For example, Dell ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist users are able to spend up to 91 percent less time on resolution. Imagine what an IT staff could do when they’re able to shift that time away from maintenance.
Another time when a technology provider’s services become critical is when businesses implement new solutions. The continual evolution of technology such as cloud, converged datacenters and big data presents a world of new opportunities — and new challenges. Not only do businesses need to contemplate how to get their new technology up and running quickly, they also need to be able to maintain, refresh and address any issues that arise.
To sail over the many potential hurdles, the Dell ProDeploy Enterprise Suite is helping IT managers and business leaders navigate the growing complexity of multiple platforms and risk of transitioning to new technologies while minimizing any downtime, all within the confines of limited resources and budgets. Businesses can rely on Dell experts and partners to lead deployments from basic hardware installation through planning, configuration and complex integrations. Companies using Dell deployment services can reduce IT effort by 91 percent and deploy systems 39 percent faster.
With new technology solutions up and running, businesses should be positioned to provide the best customer service possible. However, without a properly trained crew there will be no one to sail the ship or right it when needed. In addition to investing in technology, organizations need to give their IT team the right training and tools to do their job well. Dell has addressed this critical need by introducing training and certification that gives a company’s IT staff access to the same resources as Dell engineers.
If the technology powering the business is running smoothly, it’s reflected in effortless and memorable interactions with customers that inspire loyalty and build revenue.
Customer service IT services and customer support will continue to evolve as new technologies are developed and customer expectations will continue to rise. By being proactive and partnering with a technology vendor who is intent on staying ahead of the curve, companies can gain an edge against the competition while building an unbreakable brand reputation.
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