Whether you're just starting out in business or are looking to grow and get ahead in your market, being aware of the building blocks of any great business is crucial.
It allows you to properly focus your attention and do what is necessary, rather than wasting time or investment on things that will damage your chances of success rather than improve them.
Of course, all businesses are different so, when reading the points below, you should think creatively about ways in which to incorporate them into your business plan and strategy. At the same time, be critical of what you are doing at the moment and whether you are neglecting any key areas. Any extra work put in now could pay huge dividends in the future.
No matter the size of your company, it is almost essential that you employ, partner or work with a team of individuals who fit certain requirements. This even includes your remote assistant, or other employees should you require them. At the root of things, your team should all share the same core value and mission for your company's success.
At the same time, you should be very aware of everyone's core strengths and abilities and ensure that, together, you all have the necessary knowledge to fulfil the company’s needs. Of course, building this team takes a very long time, and is usually an ongoing process as the business grows and people naturally come and go. So always be aware of the dynamics within your company and ask frequently for criticisms and suggestions to help steer your business in the right direction.
You may have the best product in the world to sell to your target customers, but without an effective marketing campaign, sadly those customers will never know you exist. So marketing should be a fundamental building block to your businesses success and should be creative and bespoke. This requires utilising both digital and offline marketing opportunities.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for achieving this mix and doing so effectively but instead, you need to firstly look at your target customer and pinpoint the exact needs your product or service solves and then find innovative ways to get your product in front of their eyes. So get your head around social media, Facebook advertising and Google AdWords, or alternatively partner or hire someone who can do these things for you.
The majority of successful businesses have a strong understanding of exactly what makes them unique and why their customers would choose them over their competition. Identifying and fulfilling these USPs (Unique Selling Points) will make you stand out and should be laid out clearly as early as possible. In turn, you weave these USPs into your marketing strategy, your branding, your employee training and your sales strategy. Achieving this block successfully will quickly help you leapfrog much of your less-focused competition.
With abundant choice and access to new information, it is easier and easier for your customers to analyse your market and decide where they would like to purchase from. So providing clear and useful value to your customers is not just important but essential. This takes a number of forms and should be performed not just after they have made a purchase but before too.
For example, if you’re buying a car and the salesman tries to push the sale and encourage you to make a decision there and then as fast as possible, are you likely to feel comfortable buying? Now consider a different salesman who clearly explains the advantages and disadvantages of all of your options and goes above and beyond in making sure you know everything you need to know and then allows you the time to make an informed decision. Would you be more likely to buy from this person?
Providing this value, through help and support, should also be done after someone has purchased, which encourages repeat custom and referrals, and also before. For example, a great way any business can do this is to build a blog for their website. Here you can offer useful articles and videos on how to get the most out of your service and explain alternatives. At the same time, a good blog will also help drive more free organic traffic from search engines like Google.
Very simply put, this point means treating every single person with whom you and your business interact with the utmost respect. In obvious ways, this means never lying to your customers and never missing payments to your suppliers. It also means being polite and courteous to those you come into contact with. Referrals still mean an incredible amount in any business scenario and a poor review or widespread criticism will quickly put you behind your competition.
At the same time you should be courteous with your competitors and never lie or slander them; you never know if you may want to partner with them or to benefit from what they offer. Lastly, it should also go without question that you should maintain lawful practices in all circumstances and be aware of any regulations in your industry.
Breaking the law in ways that you consider minor or even petty can have huge and immediate consequences which will either put you out of business or leave you with a bad reputation that is hard to rebuild.
Building a memorable brand is a crucial building block in your businesses success and will help you grow at the rate that you want. If someone sees an advert on TV or on a bus stop and later realises they may require your services, your brand should be easily memorable in their minds. Similarly, if someone purchased from you a while ago and needs to reorder, then a memorable brand will allow them to quickly come back to you.
Achieving this can be done in a number of ways. Firstly this includes a great company name and an accompanying logo. These should contain no jargon and include friendly vivid colours and fonts that are easy to remember. Your brand also extends to everyone who promotes it so, if applicable, wear company t-shirts and jackets and always spread your brand in a good light. Impressions are everything and the way you and your employees act and behave are integral in creating not just a memorable brand, but also a respectable one.
Taking control of your finances falls, in a basic sense, into two broad categories. One is looking at what you are bringing in, and the other is looking at what is going out. This doesn't mean simply writing out everything that you sell and for how much or what your rent and wages cost, but means going deeper. When looking at revenue you should see where that money is coming from exactly; such as which products sell best, who sells best and at what time of year. With costs, you should be constantly looking for ways to achieve greater efficiency and make extra savings.
A proper analysis of costs can quickly highlight ways in which you are overspending and add a lot of money to your bottom line. A solid understanding of your finances will also allow you to make more accurate predictions and forecasts for the future. As stated before, if overspending is something you are bad at then make sure there’s someone in your company who can better keep an eye on things. However, if you’re just starting out then it's vital that you understand the income and expenditure model of your company to ensure the best chances of financial success and prosperity.