Running a small business can be one of the most liberating choices a person can make, but only if you manage to generate a decent return from your efforts. The recession has seen thousands of promising entrepreneurs shy away from the prospect of going it alone, but now the black clouds of the slump are slowly clearing, the market is begging for new injections of business.But how do you ensure that your business idea will pay off, and how can you make your model more financially resilient?
Before we delve any further into small business ideas, we need to acknowledge that new niches lie everywhere – any new businessperson is likely to be successful if they identify a real market gap or a creative way to improve an existing product or service.
Whatever your small business idea may be, there is a trifecta of vital targets that you must focus on: increasing your turnover, and essentially your income, growing your client base, and fine tuning your product. Whether you source clowns for children’s parties or build eco-friendly coffins, these three targets remain the same. Set them, review them, and achieve them.
Bolstering your income in the early years of your small business idea, is something many find difficult to do. Even some of the most successful small businesses will tell you that they bled out financially during the first 18 months of trade. It’s difficult to gauge how well things are going when you are making losses, but it is vitally important – especially if you are personally liable – to keep your head above water during the teething phases.
Making your small business idea (and more importantly yourself) financially resilient is one of the wisest things an entrepreneur can do. While bolstering your income can come from traditional tactics like finding new investors or price skimming, this doesn’t go far in terms of increasing your personal wealth. If you have an area of expertise that accompanies your product or service, consider selling yourself on the side.
You are probably the most valuable asset in your new business framework – the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will profit. Giving advice, providing coaching, and teaching courses in your area of expertise will generate another layer of income in an almost entirely separate stream to your main business initiative. The beauty of the two being related however, is that you can establish yourself as an authority in the sector and unite your courses with your business if the time is right, something we will touch on later.
The second pillar in making sure your small business idea is one that pays, is growing your client base; a simple task on the surface of things, but one that takes time and attention to achieve. Whether it be word of mouth, a great online presence, a local marketing campaign, or all three – identify the people you are trying to reach, and then do all you can to reach them.
If you know your clients well enough, you should reach out to them via something they need, with excellent multimedia courses you could strike up a rapport with your potential clients and create a platform on which to sell your great product. Say you own the greatest cupcake store in town – a cheap bakery course giving away just one of your winning recipes is likely to see many more customers come through the door to try more of your other cakes and chat to you about your already established expertise.
The third and final stage in ensuring your small business idea not only survives but pays off is perfecting your product. The most important part of this process is listening to feedback and then acting on it. Seems obvious, but when you have a lot of pride in what you do or what you have created taking constructive criticism can be extremely hard. Nevertheless, if you want to succeed you need to take negatives on the chin and use them to make your product better.
Once you think your product has evolved sufficiently, the next stage of improvement is adding value. Adding value to your product is an excellent way of encouraging sales and and establishing loyal, satisfied customers. For new businesses, this really is the lynchpin of success.
Lets go back to the cupcake store example – say you need to add value to your branded baking utensil set more than you need to create some supplementary income, or you want to find a balance of both. Each of your baking sets now comes with a card for free or discounted admission to your baking course in which you cleverly display and use said baking utensils. This is adding value. The two streams dovetail perfectly into a holistic customer experience that allows their one time purchase to become an experience.
Creating and owning an online course allows you to add value to almost any product or service if you think creatively and holistically about your small business idea. Small business ideas that pay are those that are financially resilient, attract and retain customers, and have a valuable product to sell. Think about how your small business idea ticks these boxes, and go get ‘em.