You’re good at what you do, you’ve got a bit of cash put by and you’ve got a hunger to start a business – so what’s stopping you?
Talking to many people in the same situation it’s clear that marketing is a significant blocker to people starting a new business.
The problem is that there are so many people out there trying to sell you stuff it’s difficult to know what to do first.
So here’s a sales pitch-free blog post that tells you the things I would do if I was starting a business from scratch.
#1 – Decide what you do (and who for)
This may sounds stupid but it is absolutely the key and you need to do this BEFORE you do anything else.
Deciding what you do and who you do it for will drive your marketing output and define which channels you use to communicate your offer so don’t neglect this step or it could be costly.
The first step is to work on your 10 second elevator pitch.
This needs to be clear and concise and frankly if you can’t tell people what you do in 10 seconds then you haven’t got a hope in hell of marketing your business in any cost-effective manner.
You need to focus your approach too.
Work out exactly who you are going to be selling to; and I mean EXACTLY.
When you first start up in business it is tempting to think that you can help everyone but marketing to the whole world just means that your message becomes diffused and gets ignored.
For example “I sell specialist insurance for plumbers” works a lot better than “I sell insurance for everybody”.
See my post on focus here (don’t worry that it’s for accountants, the principles are the same.
#2 – Build your network
Do this well before you start up in business.
Your network is like gold and will bring you sales, publicity and suppliers.
Businesses that have a large and active network always do better than closed, insular companies.
Be selective though, choose a networking group that has people who look like your target customers rather than a big bunch of randoms that won’t ever buy from you.
If you provide professional grade practice management software then you’re probably going to be wasting your time on mumsnet, for example.
#3 – Get your website up and running
Again you can do this before you even start and with the number of easy website builders out there you have no reason not to have a go yourself.
As you build your network you’ll realise that everyone you meet will be checking out your website to see if you are credible.
Your site doesn’t need to be sophisticated or snazzy, just professional and you can get away with a homepage, about, services and contact pages and then develop it later.
Just make sure your about page has a good story on it.
#4 Get your blog up and running
If you are hoping to attract customers using searches then you need to get your SEO right.
It’s not a matter of writing a blog post and then Google picks you up the next day, you need to have a history of posts.
Even if you don’t expect to pick customers up this way then your new business needs to build up a credible looking site so get your blog up and running and look to post once a week with some valuable information about your sector.
Don’t worry too much about driving sales or hitting specific keywords at this point (that comes later), concentrate on getting into the groove of posting regularly.
You can find out more about digital marketing here.
#5 Plan your marketing
Having a marketing plan before you start your business makes so much sense it is amazing that so few people do it.
Amazing but nonetheless true.
A marketing plan is a great idea because it forces you to think about what you are going to do, when and how much it is going to cost.
Most new businesses have a limited marketing budget so it’s a good idea to think about where you are going to spend it and then analyse the results afterwards to see what is working and what isn’t.
That way you’ll only spend money where you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Start a business – become a marketer
When you start a business you’ll find that you are doing more jobs than ever before.
You’ll become the janitor, the CFO, the Chief exec and the head of marketing!
Just like the operational tasks you need to take marketing seriously, after all if you don’t you won’t have any customers to help!
So make sure that you get your marketing head on and if it all seems like a bit too much, then find someone who can help (cough).
Good luck with starting your new business!