Guest Blog – Paul Lees – Founder of Powwownow
Becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business is one of the biggest career moves you can make. Your ideas can be cutting edge but this doesn’t guarantee your success. Trying to beat the odds against the 50% of businesses that fail within the first five years isn’t easy, so it’s important to take the right steps towards starting your business.
Although Powwownow has grown to become the leading conference call provider in the UK, it was once a small start-up, so I wanted to share my top 5 tips for starting a successful business.
Do your research
Often entrepreneurs are so keen to get their product or service on the market that they forget about the basics. You need to know who your target market is and whether there will be demand for it. It’s one thing to have a great idea, but your start-up won’t get off the ground if no one will see any value in buying into your product or business model.
Getting a good cross section of people and receiving honest feedback will be one of the most valuable insights you can receive before launching your product. It might mean that the market isn’t ready for your idea, or help you realise that you just need to tweak your proposition, but either way, this will save you the time and money from finding out the hard way after spending most of your budget on advertising.
By using the research to determine your target market and confirming whether or not there will be demand for your idea will help you target your audience.
Interested in finding out more? Discover why some start-ups fail and how to avoid it.
Don’t just assume you need an office
A modern, open planned office conducive to productivity might feel like what you need, but that’s a common misconception. Some of the most successful companies started in their living room, and leasing an office will only add unnecessary costs.
Remote working has been one of 2015’s biggest trends as start-ups in particular, have been quick to adopt and realise it’s many benefits. Not only does it keep costs down, but it also helps businesses become more agile, by expanding the amount of locations for individuals and teams to work from. Being out of the office is no longer a hindrance to our productivity and ability to access work and stay connected with staff.
Hire people based on their skills, not their location
Recruiting the right people for your business is crucial, and top talent won’t all be in the same postcode, nor will many be willing to commute long and far for work. Flexible working can be the solution for both those problems as it allows entrepreneurs to have far more options to hire people based on their skillset over geographic location.
Flexible working has also changed the perception of a ‘normal working day’ as the traditional 9-5 is quickly becoming redundant. It’s not feasible to be working 9-5, Monday-Friday for every working day of the year, so flexible working enables people to work during times that are suitable to them; both for their lifestyle and productivity.
Advertise the smart way
Budgets are one of the biggest impediments to growth and expansion, so entrepreneurs are moving to smarter ways of advertising. Social media is a cost effective strategy that can help you get your product to the right audience as it allows you to target specific types of people; by age, gender, industry, job role, interests etc. This will help you get the cut through you need and base your ads on your aim – i.e. clicks, conversions, impressions etc.
It’s no longer about the big media spend, it’s about advertising the smart way; quality over quantity. Here’s how to promote your business on a start up budget.
Don’t overlook mobile – the UK has become a smartphone society where consumers now prefer mobile over computer as their preferred device. Having an app and/or responsive website will avoid your product or service from being overlooked by the vast majority of consumers.
People are always on their phone. Whether it’s for work, in transit, waiting for people, on their commute, or just browsing to kill a bit of time, consumers will be on social media or a web browser looking to engage with certain updates, ideas or products. So by targeting people (which you can do specifically on mobile), you can get your product or service in front of the right people who will engage and take an interest in your idea.
So starting a business is not about getting a brand new shiny office or rushing your product to market, it’s about being smart about your business and taking the right steps to build a foundation for your success.
Interested in knowing more? Check out our articles for start-ups.