Whilst the process is generally not as tidy as setting up your business and then sitting back and saying “what’s next?”, generally it is never that straight forward. Often you have your business idea, you start to formulate your plans and put them into action and before you know it you have your own business without stopping for breath. For some though it is a much more methodical, slower process. You start with your business idea and a business plan and then work your way through many of the steps that start-ups need to go through. This could be setting up your business account, securing funding and sourcing suppliers. Once you have this and you are ready to go what do you do next?
In an ideal world, once you have completed all of the initial business start-up steps, the phone would ring or you would receive email notifications of orders or bookings. Much as we would like it to follow this pattern it very rarely does and it can be hard finding the balance between being too busy and not being busy enough. In the early days whilst you are building your business the number one priority is to generate customers.
Where do the customers come from?
Part of your business plan should include a marketing plan, after all this will be how you generate customers. Your marketing plan will no doubt consist of many factors from having a website built to managing your social media content. There will also be things that you can do in the early days to raise the profile of your business and get the word out there. Check out local networking events that you could attend. You may make useful contacts that can pass on the benefit of their experience. Don’t cherry pick the bits that you want to do – the more you do, the more people you will reach and therefore the more customers you will generate.
Once you have customers what next?
It is tempting for business owners to get caught up in the day to day running of their business and not sit back and take stock. You and your current customers may love what you do but have you reviewed your offering? Get feedback from a selection of customers and non-customers, review what you are offering and look at whether there are improvements or additions that can be made to enhance it. Is there another product or service that you could offer to compliment your current offering?
Word of mouth
There isn’t any marketing that is quite as valuable as word of mouth. If you do a good job and someone tells you so then ask them to pass it on. Ask them to leave a review on your website or social media pages. Ask them to like and share your Facebook page or ask them to recommend you to a friend. Perhaps there is a loyalty scheme you could do to encourage this?
It is important for successful business people to consistently evaluate what they do. Are you buying the best and most cost effective supplies? Are you making a profit or are you not charging enough? Are your products too expensive compared to others in the market place. What more could you offer? This constant evaluation will help you to grow and strengthen your business making it bigger and better over time.