- Start with your Goals
Setting measurable goals for your business is critical. Until you know exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about achieving it, your chance of business success in 2012 will be dismal. Having coached many small business owners I have found that the lack of clear and measurable goal is the most consistent factor for business failure. The formula that I give in my small business course is:
“I am going to achieve Goal ‘A’ on this date by practising that initiative”
Without setting and following up on measurable goals you will not be able to see if what you believe are good
ideascan be turned into actual profitable business ideas. This point is important for any businessbut it is absolutely critical if your are still at the stage of working with your startup business ideas.
- Test your customer’s needs.
Regardless of what your business is, product, service or information your objective should be to solve a problem that faces your customers. You test this by using surveys, marketing software or a simple face to face chat. The latter is usually the best way if you have on offline business. For example, when I started a hospitality business I had found an ideal location but it wasn’t until I started asking my customers for feedback that I realised what was missing in what I had to offer. Once I saw a trend it was easy enough to introduce some changes that served my customers’ need and as a result my occupation rates improve dramatically. The main thing to remember is that customer’s needs change and getting continual feedback is a must.
- Create a strong message.
Once you know what your customers’ needs are and how your product or service will fill the gap you need to create a strong message that communicates the benefits of your solution. If you have a logo or banner that you are currently using, check that it conveys the right message. The most important thing to remember here is that your message must at first glance convey the immediate benefits of what you have to offer. That first impression is the one that can make or break your business. This principle applies to both online and offline businesses.
If your business is online, the banner of your blog or web page should include a meaningful logo and an encapsulation of the benefits of what you have to offer should be above the fold of your landing page. There are similar requirements for a strong message for an offline business. The logo on your business card, in your shop window or on your brochures is the first thing that potential customers will notice. If it’s not meaningful you already lose a large percentage of your audience immediately. The text on any physical advertising material should follow the same “above the fold” principle as the website for an online business. Your customers will only look at the first few lines, usually no more than 10 centimetres of text, to decide subconsciously if what they’ve read so far is interesting enough to warrant further reading. And of course, don’t forget that all important picture! People love pictures and a few eye-catching ones scattered throughout your message will keep the interest going for much longer than something that is just dull and boring text.
- Keep in touch.
Keeping in touch with your customers without being seen to be pushy is one of the main factors in achieving ongoing business success. Make sure that you collect email addresses for both actual and potential customers and communicate on a regular basis. This could take the form of a simple email announcing product or service upgrades, a newsletter with interesting topics relating the your products and services, announcements of special deals, etc. It is important though that this type of communication should be at least 80% information and no more than 20% sales. Keep your customers’ attention by giving them regular useful information and they will also most likely look at your sales communications. Overdo it with the sales spiel and you’ll soon get a large number of unsubscribe requests.
Most businesses that work online are aware of this and are practising this at least up to a reasonable level. Many offline businesses however fail miserably on this score. Let’s face it, when was the last time that you received an email from your local restaurant telling you about some terrific new menus or flavours that have been introduced? I’m certain that if you ever did receive a communication of this nature you would be far more inclined to visit the restaurant and you would also be much more likely to tell your friends about it. Why don’t many restaurant owners do this? Habit! Suggesting to guests that they might like to leave their email address so they can get information such as menu changes or special recipes simply doesn’t cross their minds. Quite a few offline businesses now have blogs or Facebook pages but remember, if that is your only marketing approach, you a are just one of many. Keeping in touch with your customers on a personal basis tends to be far more effective.
- Monitor and Adjust.
Once you have implemented the first 4 steps at the beginning of the year, don’t forget to monitor your progress. Are you staying on target with your goals? Letting this slip is one of the worst mistakes that any business owner can make. You can always adjust your goals on the proviso that you have been monitoring your progress regularly and that the reasons for the changes are valid ones that will benefit your business success.
Source by Elizabeth L Todd