Have you ever been to China and visited the Great Wall? What do you think is the reason why it has stood so strong and firm all these years? Just like any building or structure, what it needs to stand the test of time is a solid foundation.
In starting up a new business, you also need good foundations for your endeavor to last a long time. If you have zero knowledge and experience about entrepreneurship, then I present to you the five foundations that any new business needs:
Think about your times as a student, and look back on those instances where your professor asked you to pass a paper on a topic you have absolutely no idea about. I bet you spent some time reading books in the library, surfing the internet or even interviewing people you knew have the knowledge on the topic. That is what you call research. And in business, research is the #1 key tool to succeed.
Face it, you cannot make good business decisions without seeking information. First and foremost, how are you supposed to determine the business you should start if you do not know what will work? You can’t just say “I’m going to open a posh coffee shop!” if the population in your location are minimum-wage owners. Or worse, you can’t open a coffee shop if you do not even know anything about coffee!
So how will you seek information? Again, do some research. Before opening up a business, you need to know a lot of information like financial information, marketing info, client info, manufacturing info, and all other kinds of useful information that will help you realize the business you are imagining.
You may have already heard the line “The customer is always right” once, twice or many times. And why wouldn’t that be true? Customers are vital for your business to succeed. For any new business (and even old ones), having customer service ethic will make or break you. For starters, your business exists because of your customers. That is why you always have to think from your customer’s perspective. If you are a customer, think of how you want to be treated. Do that and your service ethic will be on the right track.
To add, have you heard of Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLF? If not, then I’ll give you some insight. By the way, this portion may be a bit technical, but trust me, it’s worth it.
So, NLF. What’s it all about?
If we break it down, Neuro is for neurology; Linguistic is for language; and Programming is for how neutral language works. From the words of Dr. Matthew James, President of an Advanced Neuro Dynamics training institution, “learning NLP is like learning the language of your own mind!”
Really, there is such a thing? Well, looks like it. NLP is the process of understanding the language of the mind to yield exceptional results and expose areas where we may have problems. I’ll give you a scenario: Your friend asks you how is it that you dance so well. You try to explain and give a clear and specific answer. But in the end, your friend just ended up being clueless on how you do it. In short, you know the answer, but you just can’t exactly express it in words. Well, NLP can help you with that!
To put it simply, NLP helps for a more effective communication to get your message across. And obviously, you need it to build your business. There is a big difference when you know how to communicate in a way that make people, both your employees and clients, feel more at ease with you. Moreover, NLP helps you motivate both yourself and others, how you present more effectively and how you persuade in a powerful and convincing way.
Have you ever tried playing chess? If yes, then you know that for you to win, you can’t just simply make moves without thinking how it will defeat your opponent. To make it obvious, you need a strategy, and in the business world, strategy is very much part of your basic needs.
A business strategy can be considered a set of actions and moves that you use to attract customers, defeat your competitors, boost your performance and attain your goals. It is an outline of how you should operate your business to achieve your desired results.
When you have a business strategy, it means you carefully define your design and target market, and you offer something excellent that is aimed at your target market.
A business strategy also needs a business plan. Think of it as your roadmap, a guide for your business that outlines targets and specifies how you shall achieve those targets.
Another strategy that you will need in business is marketing strategy. When you’re new in the business world, you’re like a baby who still needs time to grow and learn in order for you to keep up with the seasoned and veteran business owners. But just because you’re a baby doesn’t mean you can’t beat the “giants”. You just need to figure something out in order to stand out and be noticed. This is where a good marketing strategy comes in.
Take Coca-Cola for example. How did they get to where they are now? Well, they recognized that their strength comes from the consistency of their brand and product identity. Their logo relatively stayed the same throughout the years! How about Apple? They are now a top brand for gadgets. Their marketing strategy works in a way that makes people feel that buying Apple gadgets will enhance their life and make things easier for them. They have created a movement that makes customers feel like they are a part something ultra innovative and modern.
In your case, you may still be a start-up. But if you utilize your strengths and come up with an effective marketing strategy that is innovative, consistent and true to your brand, then you can achieve what other successful businesses have already had.
When you see footwear that has a white check mark or “swoosh” in it, what brand comes to mind? Very few people wouldn’t know what it is. But because of its great branding all these years, it has become one of the most esteemed and thriving brands today. True enough, Nike isn’t just another shoe company, but it has redefined itself into an athletic and fitness lifestyle brand.
A brand is a concept, product or service that distinguishes your business from others, giving you a distinct identity. It captures who you are: your story, tone, voice and personality. A brand is like your promise to your potential customers, the benefits they will get when they buy your products or try your services. When you build your brand, you also create your brand visibility and value, making your products or services appealing to your customers.
Once you’ve built your brand, it will give you an edge from your competitors. It will help build customer recognition, which leads to this positive result: introducing new products or services will now be easier because of the credibility you’ve developed, which then leads to quicker monetization. Thus, increasing your sales will be faster and easier each and every time!
So where do you start? Well, one important part of building your brand is telling your story. This is how you connect with your consumers and shape how customers view you. But don’t just make up stories. Consumers nowadays are already very wise. The key here is authenticity. Tell your story from the heart and people will come rushing into your store in no time.
It is easy to dive into business right away, but what will help you sustain your company is having strong foundations. It takes patience to succeed. And as a newbie, I suggest you work on your foundations first so that whatever challenges you encounter, you will not easily fall. Good luck!