I’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news: starting a successful business isn’t all that complicated. If you can get just two elements of business success right, and get them right before you open your doors, then you’ll have a really good shot at success.
Element #1: Filling a need.
Most people decide they want to go into business for themselves and then spend weeks, months, or even years trying to wrack their brains for some new, big idea. Once they have the idea they convince themselves the idea is worth millions. They’re usually so relieved to think up something, anything that someone else isn’t already doing that they never stop to ask themselves if anyone actually needs this thing they’ve come up with.
The most successful entrepreneurs don’t do that. Instead, they spot a problem. They think: “I can solve that problem.” Then they do it.
The problem doesn’t even have to be world-changing. The problem could be: “There aren’t any pet sitting services in my city. Yet there are 32 vet offices, so there must be plenty of pets.” This approach is customer focused instead of owner focused, which makes it easy to make a compelling case for customers to do business with you.
Novelty isn’t necessarily the issue. The issue is whether or not the product or service flows naturally from the problem.
Element #2: Creating a marketing plan.
You can’t make money if nobody knows about the bold new solution to the problem you have been observing. That means you’d better figure out how to get the word out to people who have the problem!
Start by figuring out where those people might be. Sometimes that’s easy. Our pet-sitter already knows that pet owners go to the vet. Sometimes it’s a little harder, but it has to be done.
Then, figure out how to place your message in that space. Perhaps you’ll drop a brochure or a business card in the waiting room. Perhaps you’ll set up a website or a Facebook page. Most likely, you’ll use a variety of methods to get the word out.
Any way you do it, you’ll have to reach these people in a way that empathizes with their problems while communicating your solution. Knowing what you’ll say, how you’ll say it, and where you’ll say it are the basic elements of a successful marketing plan. You also need to be sure that you’re available to speak to these people: over the phone, via e-mail, and in person. Otherwise you won’t close any deals.
This plan will help keep you focused. It will ensure that you actually know what to do in order to build your business every single day. Without it, you’re likely to spend most of your time watching Netflix with one hand on the phone, hoping that “business picks up soon.”
So what’s the bad news?
The bad news is simple. Most people get these two elements of start-up success dead wrong, and business never does pick up. This is why the road to business ownership is littered with so many failed ventures.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.