Top Strategies for Entrepreneurial Success
By Wendy Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Determined, confident and persistent?
Creative and imaginative?
Flexible and adaptable?
Charismatic and enthusiastic?
Independent and decisive?
Organized and efficient?
These are but a few of the many traits that characterize successful entrepreneurs. In fact, entrepreneurial success requires a diversity of talents, a broad range of knowledge, a passion to succeed and an attitude that says “I can do it!”
To help you on your way to that success, here are the top 8 strategies that will guide you and your company to entrepreneurial excellence.
Strategy #1: MAKE MONEY DOING WHAT YOU KNOW
If you’re considering starting your own business, know that 9 times out of 10 you will be more successful if your business focuses on something that you already do well. If you’ve done meeting and conference planning for a major hotel chain, launching your own meeting planning business is a great idea. You’ve got the knowledge and the contacts, so you already are one step ahead. Conversely, if you decided to start a manufacturing company, the learning curve would be tremendous. Doing what you know – or at least have some experience in – makes a world of difference in how quickly you will succeed.
Strategy #2: UNDERSTAND YOUR MONEY
For all too many entrepreneurs, their lack of knowledge about how their money “works” is their downfall. Here’s a prime example: A career coach charges $100 an hour for her services and thinks she’s making $100 an hour. Wrong! If you subtract overhead costs (e.g., phones, computers, office space, utilities, supplies), then subtract state, federal and FICA taxes, that $100 is much closer to $35-$40 if you’re lucky! To succeed in business, you MUST have a true understanding of how your money works, where it comes from, where you spend it and what your bottom-line profits truly are. Unless you happen to be an accountant yourself, get one now!
Strategy #3: EMBRACE YOUR CLIENTS
Whether you call them clients or customers, they are the single most important component of any successful business. Without them, you have nothing … no matter how great your products, services or technologies. You must be available to your clients and must learn to embrace them in each and every one of your interactions (e.g., phone, fax, email, mail). If your clients feel valued and cared about, they will be yours forever. What’s more, they’ll refer their colleagues, allowing you to build a strong customer base without additional marketing and advertising costs.
Strategy #4: BUILD A NICHE
Businesses that tend to stand out from the crowd are often those that focus their products and services in a particular market niche. A prime example is a law firm that specializes in contracts. Rather than being lost in the enormous number of general law practices, this firm stands out and has immediate market recognition as an “expert” in contracts. In turn, they have a unique market position that attracts the specific clientele they want. A niche marketing concept will give you significant market visibility and, over time, build a substantial customer base. Do not feel as though you have to limit yourself to just one niche. Consider two or three related niches, and watch your business grow!
Strategy #5: GET PUBLISHED
If you’re published, people think that you’re an expert. It’s that simple. Whether a book or an article, it gives you and your business instant credibility. And, it’s so very easy to get published today. There are tens of thousands of websites hungry for content. Sometimes they pay; other times, they don’t. However, the exposure and visibility you get is well worth your effort. If you’re in the consumer products manufacturing industry, contact one of your industry’s professional associations to ask if they need an article – for their website or newsletter. Before you know it, you and your business will come to be recognized as experts.
Strategy #6: NETWORK … NETWORK … NETWORK
Building your visibility and network of contacts is vital to your long-term success. You cannot rely on business knocking at your door no matter how much you spend on advertising. Instead, you have to go get it … sometimes through direct sales calls; other times, through more passive networking channels such as participation in and/or leadership of your local chamber of commerce, a local lead exchange group and other business/professional associations. Consider sending a quarterly e-newsletter to your existing customers to share company news, introduce new services and products, and ask for referrals. Remember, the larger your network, the more visible you and your company will be, the greater name recognition you will achieve, and the more customers that will come knocking at your door.
Strategy #7: MARKET THROUGH MULTIPLE CHANNELS
No single advertising, promotional or marketing strategy works in isolation. True marketing and business development is a culmination of a diversity of strategies, tactics and actions. What marketing, advertising and promotional channels you use will depend entirely on your product or service, and the customers you are trying to reach. Your objective is to create a plan that integrates the primary marketing channels appropriate for your business (e.g., print advertising, brochures, Yellow Pages, website, online advertising, networking, incentives). When creating your marketing plan, be sure to identify and develop ALL channels that will lead you to your targeted customer base.
Strategy #8: CHARGE WHAT YOU ARE WORTH
Whether you offer a product or a service, it is essential that you charge what it is worth. Do not think for one minute that just by making your product or service the least expensive, that it will generate clients. In fact, it’s often better to be at the higher end of the pricing scale so that customers will understand the value of your product. Consider two pairs of identical-looking shoes. One pair is $49.95 and the other is $149.95. Which is better? We’re all inclined to believe that the $149.95 pair is better made, will last longer, etc. Use this same principle when developing your pricing schedules. Don’t be cheap … be the best!
Twenty years ago, entrepreneurship was a risky business. Today, it can offer you substantially more stability than any job you’ll find. No longer will you be subject to the downsizings and reorganizations of corporate