Starting a business is quite a challenge. You can face uncertainty and fear, not to mention huge bills that keep mounting up as you struggle to make profit. This is reality, and it is also the reason why so many businesses fail at the first hurdle.
You need to get your head straight around the issues that require management within the first couple of years of operation. In this article (in two parts) we will look at two issues that need dealing with professionally if you are going to be able to stay in business beyond the three-year mark. Customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t have customers you don’t have sales, which means revenue and then hopefully profit. If you don’t have customers then there is literally no reason to be in business. What many people don’t realise is that you can create customers for your business before you actually go into business. Having customers ready to buy your product or service before you officially open your doors means you have an immediate stream of revenue that you can hold against any borrowing you have undertaken to start up with.
One way in which you can build up an initial customer base is through networking. Networking is something that anyone can do, even those who aren’t actually in business yet. If you approach networking events before you start in business, just as a way of spreading the word about your product or service, you will find that there is an enormous opportunity to find customers.
Consider giving away products or services before you start jumping into fully-fledged business. This is essentially marketing, and if you’re able to get happy customers before you leave your job, for example, then you have a springboard from which you can make revenue quickly and therefore stay afloat and moving towards profit. Consider giving away products or services for free before you open up as a business, as this is a great way to build interest and customer loyalty.
Try cold calling a few people before you start a business to establish interest and also to get your name out there. Cold calling is something that many people shy away from, but if you do it well enough, and especially if you do it before you’re a fully-fledged business, you’re becoming more experienced at dealing with customers, and they will also make you more confident when talking about your product or service.
Finally, one good way to find customers before you start the business is through your current workplace. It’s no secret that people leave their jobs to start a business, so spend some time talking to people before you start up a business about the product or service. This could bring a steady stream of customers and referrals before you begin.
In part two of this article we will look at other issues that you can address before you start the business. Managing that pre-start phase will ensure you have a steady stream of customers.