You’ve Officially Started Your Business – Now What?
Hey – congratulations on FINALLY taking the plunge! You’ve built your professional business website on the Blockity platform, taken care of all the legal ins and outs to make your business a reality and now it’s time to amass your fortune. But here’s where being your own boss can get you into trouble. Second-guessing, shifting focus, shooting for the wrong goals, and a lack of clear feedback can all lead to disaster if you don’t have a system in place to keep your business progress, and yourself, on track.
Let’s take a look at what to emphasize, and what to avoid, in order to make the next year much more fun than the average entrepreneur commonly experiences.
DO: Define Realistic Goals for the Next 12 Months
Where do you SPECIFICALLY want to be 365 days from now? Set objectives around metrics that matter, which at this stage, should be all about revenue. Think of the early drivers of sales in your business situation, make note of where you currently are with each and decide what a productive year should mean in terms of each driver. When considering the catalysts that really drive revenue here are some ideas to build goals around:
You can see that each of these are activities that move the ball as far as increasing your sales is concerned. What might a stupid goal look like for comparison, you ask? Here’s one: “get an ice cream maker for our breakroom”. There are no breaks in Year 1, hence there should be no breakroom. And first-year entrepreneurs need to stay lean-and-mean – no ice cream for you until next year.
DON’T: “Hire the Best Talent”
Well, we’re not saying hire the worst talent. Really, try not to hire anybody. At this early stage you should be the salesman, the production team, the accountant and the Chief Marketing Officer all-in-one. This is for a couple of reasons:
There are companies that still think vanity metrics like having a sous chef on staff or getting to 100 employees are the real measures of accomplishment, like those things would create a magical state of being for the organization. The only magic is witnessing your cash reserves POOF into thin air from your unsustainable overhead costs.
DO: Find Lots of Ways to Amplify Your Marketing Efforts
You did a fine job on our DIY website platform and your new site is ready to convert scores of leads – but getting found organically will take some time as you work your way up the rankings. Think about other established markets where you can capitalize on the traffic already headed there. Listing on Amazon or another reseller site might fit your business model and provide you with more exposure and sales in the near-term. For other startups, throwing some cash at a powerful social influencer for an endorsement could be money well-spent in terms of the sales referrals you could get in return. Additionally trade-shows, in-store demos, and local media opportunities may be the perfect fit for your vertical. While cold-calling is often necessary with first-year startups, the most you can hope for out of that is a one-customer-at-a-time success rate – try getting yourself and your brand in front of as many viable targets as possible in the shortest amount of time to enhance your results.
DON’T: Borrow Money
Most seasoned business owners will tell you that borrowed money is spent money. If you’re successful in getting another round of a cash infusion you’ll justify putting a bunch of it on PPC ads, signage, bedazzled company softball jerseys and other frivolities.
Np, you don’t want to run your company like a miser, or like you’re one late-fee away from getting shut down, but you should also practice some frugality and make do with what you have. You’ll find that your creativity will kick in and you’ll identify new resources that won’t drain your accounts. If you have the time you might as well do the work yourself, and it’s surprising how many low-cost and free methods there are to amplify awareness of your new company – albeit many of them are labor intensive and require some ingenuity. But that’s something you’re good at!
DO: Work on the Voice of your Brand
In the first year of owning your own business you should be taking steps to validate the preconceptions you have about your audience, their needs, spending habits, and how they respond to your messaging. This is where being active on social media, using polls, surveys and other methods for gaining feedback will be immensely valuable.
Essentially you want to “speak their language” so it’s over this first 365 days that refining your company voice (and personal brand if it applies) should be a priority and this should guide so many endeavors that you do going forward, like:
The list goes on and on. The point is you don’t want to find yourself two years from now struggling to make any sales and having no idea why this is the case. And here’s another tactic you should be using: A/B testing of your website for everything from colors and fonts to the layout of content blocks and your contact form. Fortunately the Blockity drag and drop website platform is the most user-friendly DIY website builder we’ve seen for making quick design changes without negatively impacting other areas of the site (good luck trying that with WordPress!)
The first year in business can actually be fun, especially if you follow this guide. And if you’re new business website is not live yet, get started now for FREE!
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