Running a successful business hinges on your ability to make smart decisions while avoiding mistakes. When many launch their business, they sometimes do so before having a solid blueprint that highlights goals and that lays a path for small gradual steps. Your business is, in a certain light, a strategic game—like chess you must carefully consider decisive actions while trying to foresee possible outcomes and note ways in which you can move forward. Continue reading to learn two common areas of business where mistakes are almost always made, and what you can do to protect yourself from falling prey to these snares.
1. Developing a business plan
Today’s business world is not the same place it was fifteen years ago. Some businesses (and successful ones at that) have been started by people who lack college degrees or any past business experience. However, not all of us can be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Having a well-defined business plan will help you become more successful. You don’t need to run out and get a business degree to succeed. There are several software applications that help entrepreneurs and small businesses develop plans but the main points are the following:
- Executive summary – What the business owner wants.
- Business description – Understanding your industry and making predictions.
- Market strategies – Market analysis.
- Design and development – A description of the business design for investors.
- Management plan – How the business will function.
Most business owners have a general idea when it comes to these points. However, you must delve deeper, roll up your sleeves, and do some aggressive research. One sure way of finding failure is to ignore what your competitors are doing. They are successful for a reason. Take a look at their marketing efforts and how they run their business in general. Look for strengths and weaknesses and use them to fine-tune your own model.
Knowing how to market, where to market and staying consistent is key. You need to tap into as many consumer bases as possible and let them know that your brand and services are available. Some new business owners may be traditionalists while others are on deck for digital platforms. It is highly advantageous to combine the two. Here is a fact: 94 percent of all businesses with a marketing department use social media as part of their marketing strategy, and for good reason. Most consumers are online via smart phones. In an article published by Forbes on the importance of social media marketing the author states that the perception of social media marketing has shifted quickly. It is no longer viewed as a trendy, passing fad. The article continues to assure readers that having a flexible and well-managed presence in each of the “big three” (Facebook, Twitter and Google+) is a MUST for any business seeking to secure a spot in “both traditional and the digital marketplace”.
As a new business owner you must examine your competitor’s presence in social media. Use their platform as a general model. But be consistent and don’t drag your feet.
Another important aspect of marketing is having a good website with equally good content. One of the biggest mistakes a new business owner can make is investing in an expensive website that they pour thousands of dollars into while loading it with mediocre content. The opposite should be done here. WordPress offers a free platform from which one can build a professional website. WordPress is already indexed to work with the search engines. In other words, it is all set for search engine optimization (SEO). By going to sites like Theme Forest you can download a professional layout and design for under $50 and achieve the same look and functionality that expensive websites share.
This is where money should be invested. Outsourcing a blogging service will offer a ROI. However, many new business owners will either try to do the work on their own with no working knowledge of how content interacts with the search engines, or they will try to save money by paying some college kid with a “streak of geek”. When hiring a content specialist you will want the following services:
- Keyword research
- Site auditing
- Competitive analysis
- Blog optimization
- Link building
- Social media marketing
- Social content development
- On-page SEO recommendations
Large firms can be expensive. Outsourcing someone from a small to mid-size boutique will save you money while providing you with the enriched content you need to market yourself effectively. Furthermore, smaller SEO consulting companies almost always offer better customer service and support than a large firm can provide.
Once you have your ducks in a row, let your brand shine through the way in which you communicate with people. Respond to every single question and comment left on Facebook. Use Twitter to get people talking about your services. Engage your clients. Once you have a solid business plan and marketing strategy in place, use your drive and personality to rope the consumers in.
Tina Hamilton is a veteran journalist and a proud mother of two who enjoys covering a wide range of topics. She currently works with a professional SEO consultant. In her spare time Tina enjoys surfing and volunteering.
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Category: Startup Advice