For most people, the idea of starting a new business is hugely daunting and for many people, the dream is there, but perhaps they are searching for that one ‘idea’… that lightbulb moment, a new invention, something innovative, a completely new product that no one has ever thought of before…
There are so many examples out there of products and brands that have changed our behaviours, they have become items that we never knew we needed !
Coca-cola was a great early example of this, starting life as a medicine for stomach ache before the formula was tweaked and marketed as a drink. The iPhone has obviously revolutionised the way we use and access information, making it so much more than just a mobile phone. Dyson has changed the vacuum cleaner market, actually prior to that Hoover was so inventive that everyone (and many still do!) call vacuum cleaners, Hoovers, when in fact that is just a brand name that stuck!
However, when starting a new business, it’s not always necessary to have something completely new and the start-up life, in many ways, has never been so accessible.
There are so many examples of businesses that have become successful built on existing models. On a large scale, look at Virgin Airways & Easy Jet. Commercial Airlines already existed long before they did! Pret a Manger ? Costa Coffee ? Yes, cafes had already been around a long time!
But what about on a much smaller, more local scale ? Painters, Decorators, Hairdressers, Cafes…. Shops selling crafts, furnishings, estate agents… ?
So if you don’t have a completely new idea but you have the passion to want to start a business, and you know there will be lots of competition…. What do you have to do ? What will set your business apart from others ?
- Just because you don’t have a new invention, doesn’t mean you can’t be innovative!
There are loads of ways to create ‘uniqueness’. If you’re starting a café or a hairdressers in a town where there is already competition, how can you differentiate, can you provide your customers with a much better, more engaging experience, look at the competitors, speak to customers… and do things much better with more passion!
- Stand out from the crowd
Shout louder than the competition (in the right ways of course!). You’re passionate about your business and the services you offer. Promote them! Make sure you are more active on social media than your competitors, are you writing blogs? Are you turning up at local events, are you networking. There is no one formula, chucking some money at Google PPC campaigns and sitting back to see what happens won’t work on its own. Be targeted and selective about what Marketing will work for you… but most of all, definitely… Be Active !!
- Be the personality behind (or in front of!) your business
Yes, if you’re launching a new start-up, the chances are, it’s built on you… your experience, background, your passion.. so don’t just be a business name… be you! Create some video content of you talking about your business, a PodCast, a Blog… get yourself out and about talking to customers and prospects… be confident! People buy from people.. not from an organisation!
- Be close to your customers
Always talk to your customers… and to prospective customers. At the beginning, researching what your customers are looking for is critical. As the business grows, the importance of engaging with customers remains the same. If you lose customers, still talk to them…. ! Find out what they didn’t like and don’t be afraid to ask those ‘courageous’ questions… like “what would I need to do to win you back as a customer” ?
- Do it your way!
As long as you’re doing a lot of the other stuff like talking to your customers and being empathetic to their needs, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be a little selfish when it comes to how you shape your business. After all, it’s your passion, do what makes you happy, it’s not all about satisfying others!
- Be Proud
Take pride in what you are developing! The business has to excite you to keep that passion going over the long term!
- Be Positive
“Keep the Faith” is one of the biggest phrases that will stick with me… In any business there will be days and weeks where things don’t quite go your way. Remain fixed on your goals and ambitions during the harder times and celebrate when things are going well… and always learn… and always look to improve!