For many of you, just making the decision to become a small business owner is a big step. For those of you who have already made this decision, congratulations. The problem is, what do you do now that you’ve made this life-altering decision? Many people who started out with dreams of conquering the world have ended up struggling just to conquer their street corner in a world filled with competition and bigger brand-name companies.
The secret for today’s new entrepreneurs lies in the ability to learn from others so you don’t have to make those same mistakes yourself. Keeping these tips in mind that apply to almost every industry (regardless of what’s being sold) will help keep your company afloat while you’re getting your feet wet in the world of business. After all, as cliché as it sounds, you never know when your next idea will be the “big one”, and you’ll want to make sure your business is ready to ride the waves.
First off, come up with a special offer for your customers, such as a discount off a bundle of products or the opportunity to purchase a desirable product you wouldn’t normally carry. This will create an incentive for people to purchase from you. Make sure the “special offer” is just that: an offer that is special. It defeats the purpose of the exercise if the customer can take advantage of the offer by any other means.
he great thing about special offers is the fact that you don’t have to go out of your way to order a slew of new products to put one together. Find a few items in your inventory that are related, discount the price if your customer purchases the whole package, and your customers will be satisfied that you’re giving them a good deal. It’s healthy for your own bottom line as well–you’ve just sold three or four items instead of just one.
Next, keep a sharp eye out for niche markets. Surprisingly, although this is one of the first things new business owners should be looking for, niche markets are overlooked far too often. Within your current customer base there are groups of people with common interests. Maybe you have a group who speaks a second language, or a teenage throng. Maybe your products really speak to the needs of the working class. Try to determine these niche groups within your customer base, and figure out the unique needs they must fill. This leads into “target marketing”, where you construct a marketing campaign solely for this group of people. Take your current advertisements, then change them slightly to speak to these niches. Most likely they’ll be grateful that you took the time to figure out their particular interests, which can lead to an increase in your own profits.
Lastly, consider setting up a referral program. One key strategy many entrepreneurs employ is the tactic of turning customers into mouthpieces for their products. Most of the time, if the product is of good quality and fills a need the company doesn’t even need to ask the customer to promote it to others. Word-of-mouth is an often ignored but necessary means of marketing.
Quality alone will help word spread of your business, but you can help it along even further by offering an incentive to customers who refer you. Give such referrals a special thank you, such as a product they can’t otherwise purchase from you, or a nice discount. Also give out customer surveys with your product delivery, asking what was pleasant about their experience with you and what needs work. A few surveys attached to a request for referrals can go a long way in improving your business.
These tips should help you get over that first rough year as a new business owner. Remember, no matter what happens, treat your customer with the utmost respect and you’re already miles ahead of your competition.