4 Tips for a Successful First Year in Business
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics quoting 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years, the start of your business is a pivotal time. Many new businesses are abandoned by their founders over the first 10 years. How can you defy the odds?
Even with a solid business plan and an essential product, things can go wrong. What makes the difference is how you and your team handle the missteps. Making mistakes is inevitable, but finding ways to lessen the impact and keep customers happy will set you apart and ensure success for years to come.
Tip #1: Do Your Research
Before registering your business or purchasing your first inventory, you should be doing your research. Follow brands you respect on social media and chat with your friend who started a business. Reach out to entrepreneurs on LinkedIn and read blogs and books on the topics of running a business. There is much to learn from the successes of others. But don’t discount the failures. While a business may have failed, there are many lessons to be learned through their stories.
A mistake some people make during the research phase is silohing themselves to only researching businesses in their own category. True innovation comes from blending ideas and models and making it your own. Just because your market category doesn’t typically have an ecommerce site or doesn’t utilize a certain buying method doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial for you and the customer base you create.
Tip #2: Invest in Marketing from the Beginning
Your store is live. Your inventory is stocked. Your staff is trained. But no sales. No customers. A common mistake new business owners make is not investing in marketing early on. They think that product, services, or customer relationships will speak for themselves. While this can be true, you more than likely will need a few first buyers to begin the process. While a ‘miracle product’ going viral or being booked out before opening is possible, it’s unlikely these days without a major following in place.
Luckily, there are many opportunities these days for finding a form of marketing that works for your business. Between social media, ecommerce stores, influencer marketing, events, and eblasts – as a new business you can determine which media works for you and easily pivot if necessary. If you’d like to learn more about which type of marketing could be right for you, let’s chat.
Tip #3: Communicate with Customers When Something Goes Wrong
Even the most well-planned businesses run into issues. With so many moving parts, many of the elements that keep your business up and moving are out of your control. Maybe your operating system went down or a shipment was lost on its way to a customer. What happens when the power is out and you can’t host guests for the day? These things happen, so communication is key.
When issues arise the worst thing you can do is go dark. If clients feel like they can’t reach you, they lose trust and are unlikely to be returning customers. This is especially relevant during your first year in business as you are establishing your reputation in the market. When a problem arises, be as prompt as possible and offer actionable solutions. Let the client know you are aware and on top of the issue and they’ll feel like they are in good hands.
Tip #4: Uplift the Happy Customers
When your online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations speak for themselves, this grows organic leads. But as a new business, it will take some time to gain a good reputation. Although, there are things you can do to encourage the good reviews. Create a feedback form and encourage happy customers to share their stories. Feature returning customers on social media if they are comfortable. Offer discounts for them to try a new product.
Maintaining a pulse on your customer base and what makes them happy will foster positive conversation around your brand. Good reviews will follow.
Maintaining a Successful Small Business
There is no doubt your first year in business will be riddled with lessons learned and areas to improve. But turning these road bumps into opportunities lies in finding what you can learn from them. Take time to review, make a game plan, and move forward. No small business is perfect, but the ones that stay in business analyze, optimize, and bounce back. Does your small business need help? Let’s chat.