BE A BUSINESS SUPERSTAR
We know you have great ideas, but you'll also need good business skills
THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING
A simple google search can provide countless articles and endless information on networking, but very few really understand the benefits or reasoning behind creating professional relationships. Through spending quality time with successful, and even less accomplished, people within your field; new ideas, information, perspectives and even opportunities can arise.
The secret is never thinking anyone is unimportant and approaching these new contacts with the aim of helping others first. Mutual benefit is absolutely key and can result in fantastic new perspectives on growing your idea.
Some of the more common forms that networking can be divided into several forms, to the point where many people are networking without even knowing it. Always take care when interacting with anyone in a professional setting, the communication you have with superiors, referrals and especially intentional additions to your network all contribute to your image.
Mutual benefit is the key and the rewards of networking can be priceless.
WHY LEADERSHIP MATTERS
Whether you have experience leading people or not, the chances are that as your product expands it's reputation you'll be required to give direction and influence people. The culture of the team you build can be drastically altered by your actions and as a result there are certain skills you may need to develop.
Although leadership styles differ with personalities and situations there are certain constant traits which mark an effective leader. Qualities such as obvious passion for your work, keeping your promises and a positive attitude can go a long way to improving the effectiveness of your organisation. Maintaining these traits along with keeping a thick skin and always being persistent can assist you in managing your crew.
The mark of of a true leader is someone who owns their mistakes, knows what they do best and sticks too it and isn't afraid to delegate tasks when needed. Demonstrate your devotion and those that you lead will reciprocate. Leadership, much like product development, is a journey of constant improvement and adaptation. Put the effort in to improving yourself and you will notice the results.
OUTPERFORMING THE COMPETITION
The interaction you may have with your direct competitor can be the key to the success of your idea, after all, you're aim maybe to take some or all of their market share. You can't expect any business to just roll over at the sight of you entering the market, so you need to be prepared for any eventuality. The most sure fire way to avoid a battle for market share is to simply out perform the competition, a feat easier said than done.
NB: This advice will focus on how to modify your management style rather than your idea.
Within the **common mistakes section - how to make your goals achievable** a detailed guide for creating manageable and more importantly achievable goals is detailed. When aiming to out perform your competition, goal setting can be one of the most meaningful tasks you can do. The goals you set should be made with growth in mind. Your goals should focus on the long term and how you intend to create a product and brand image vastly superior to your competitors. Having a long term outlook on your goals is the hallmark of a strong and blossoming business, so keep you ambition focused (using the **SMART** framework where possible).
The next step is to genuinely understand your customers, better than your competition. This can be practised through standard consumer and market research methods; however, other methods are also at your disposal. By educating yourself on what has worked in practise for your competitors, you can ably gain insight into the preferences of your customers. Learn from what has worked for others and implement it your own marketing strategies. Fundamentally, your idea is meant to provide utility to the consumer. The more you comprehend consumer inclinations the higher chance you have of exceeding your opposition by providing that extra utility.
The connection you have with your customer base can be founded in a number of ways; advertising campaigns, responding to complaints, customer service or first impressions. Clearly first impressions are important, but continuing to preserve the connection with your consumer base beyond a one time transaction is just as important if not more so. The connection can lead to repeat business and the foundation of a relationship prompting customers to return for your goods and services despite other offers. This relationship with your customers is how you out perform the competition, it is often referred to as brand loyalty. Brand loyalty requires groundwork, it needs to be established through the use of stimulating and relatable forms of communication. Methods such as community involvement and engaging in real conversation over the phone, rather than automated, are both sensible examples of effective communication.
Our performing your competition should be a constant goal, which can be accomplished in different ways. Go to the effort of analysing and re-analysing your communications mediums and if in doubt, place yourself in the position of the customer using your product
Success of a product is in no way entirely dependant on the product itself, marketing plays a huge part in if the product or service will sell against it's competitors. There are products that continue to exist and even thrive because they were able to differentiate themselves against similar if not identical products. This is executed through brand image, by creating something bigger than the product. A brand's image is constructed not just through a logo or a slogan targeted at a specific group of people (although this maybe part of a quality campaign), but by delivering a consistent image associated with your product or service. A truly differentiated product is separated from the herd and operates within its own monopoly purely due to its split from the market. A common approach taken by businesses to differentiate themselves is by defining a unique selling point (USP), a USP is meant to produce a undeniable reason for a potential customer to choose your business. Differentiation be key to surviving in a highly competitive market place and well as obtaining early investment.
A frequent practise of entrepreneurs to rapidly expand their idea when needed, is gaining outside funding. This can be done by taking out a loan or pitching to investors in exchange for equity within the business. It is almost routine that startups fail due to lack of capital, this can put down two common causes; improper financial planning and trying to scale too early. Improper financial planning can usually be accredited to overestimation of future profits. This can be easily avoided through being frugal when deciding upon expenses based on future earnings and by simply minimising expectations when predicting revenue.
Premature scaling, the other reason for failure, can be defined as "spending money beyond the essentials on growing a business", and accounts for up to 70% of the start up business failures. Lack of capital, through early scaling, causes these failure by removing cash that could otherwise by utilized as runway when something goes wrong. Being a new business, something will inevitably go wrong, not to say that it can't be fixed, but time and sometimes expertise will be required to pivot and change these situations. But lack of a runway is not the only reason why so many small start ups are crippled by premature scaling, removing cash in an attempt to more rapidly grow your business takes away the chance for you to pounce on an opportunity. Be smart when planning ahead and understand the mistakes that cause businesses to fail.