Entrepreneurs and business owners aren’t known for conformity. They go against the grain because settling for what already exists is less appealing than paving new paths. But this idealism and drive don’t come without risks. About 21.5% of startups fold within year one, and 30% go under in the second year. By the time year five rolls around, just 50% of startups are still operating.
Some of the more common reasons for failure include going after the wrong market, a lack of research and poor partnerships. Thorough market research, goal-setting and networking are necessary to help increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. So is perseverance and marketing that outs your unique expertise and brand reputation. Here are five different ways to accomplish your business goals and set your company up for success.
1. Network Within Your Niche
Startups get off the ground because of a single genius idea or passionate pursuit. But it’s professional relationships and alliances with other experts that keep a business going. While you may have some of those partnerships in place, there are always new opportunities to learn from others.
By networking with leaders in your industry or market niche, you can discover new technologies and business approaches. Networking can also bring in referrals, inform you about upcoming events and expose you to emerging market information.
Use professional platforms, such as LinkedIn, to find other business owners and entrepreneurs in the same niche. Search for thought leaders or those engaging with conversations and topics that concern your industry and reach out to them. When requesting their time and attention, be sure to offer something in return. The best networking relationships are mutually beneficial ones.
2. Attend Relevant Business Events
Another effective way to network with like-minded business owners is to attend meetings, seminars and conferences. Whether you prefer to attend Virtual, in-person or hybrid events, it’s a chance to learn about trends and best practices. Professional gatherings also present ample opportunities to meet and connect with others.
Most in-person conferences and seminars have networking sessions or roundtables where you can exchange business cards and initiate conversations. You can create a digital profile with your LinkedIn page and contact details for virtual events.
During discussions, discover your new acquaintances’ pain points and where they need help. If your business can assist, talk about how your resources will solve their problems. Also, see whether there are ways others can lend your company their expertise.
3. Build Your Brand’s Reputation
You can build your brand’s reputation through networking, referrals and conventional marketing. But it helps to start with a firm foundation that sits on solid research. Look at your competition and target consumers. Is there a competing product or service that’s favored by the market? Develop a hypothesis as to why that is. Determine whether there are any gaps in the ways that product or service is meeting the market’s needs.
From there, identify expansion opportunities for your business model. Align those options with your goals and research how you can achieve them. That may be through potential investors, marketing strategy firms and/or professional partnerships with suppliers or experts.
Scope out experts who can help with SEO optimization, content marketing strategy and service delivery. Leverage these partnerships to build your brand’s digital and in-person reputation.
4. Adapt to Customer Feedback and Market Changes
Research supports the idea that adaptability and resiliency are essential for business success. Teams that pay attention to changes in their environment are better positioned to pivot their efforts. They also develop an ability to focus on what they need to accomplish to get through challenging situations. Teams that don’t adapt to changing conditions are more likely to fail.
External market forces and a business’s internal dynamics are rarely static. What seems like a promising service might falter within six months from launch if customers can’t see its value. Feedback from surveys and sales staff could reveal too much complexity. Tweaking the service to make it easier to use and understand might put the business unit back on track. Similarly, emerging shifts in consumer preferences could call for a product or service makeover.
5. Keep an Eye on Costs
Besides poor market research and unproductive partnerships, a lack of cash flow is a key reason startups struggle. Making sure there’s enough money coming in is one side of the equation. But so is managing expenses and building a cushion to sustain the business through lean times.
While successful businesses generate enough revenue to cover operating costs and produce profits, they rarely start out that way. Even when revenues cross over the break-even point, there could be occasional future financial challenges. A contingency fund that covers operating expenses for up to a year will help establish a buffer. So will keeping costs as low as possible in the beginning.
This may involve using contract workers for some tasks until you can justify a costlier full-time hire. It could mean having some employees work from home rather than splashing out on more office space. It’s better to adopt a lean mindset from the outset than engage in painful belt-tightening later.
You probably didn’t make the decision to become an entrepreneur lightly. Launching a startup takes confidence, grit and a willingness to challenge the status quo. While your path might be less conventionalleading your company toward success does require some traditional business practices.
Networking within your industry, forming fruitful partnerships, growing and adapting your brand and managing costs are some of them. As you implement your business idea and plan, align these established principles with your unique goals. With diligence and time, you’ll be on your way to reaching your company’s objectives.