Recently, Vira Creative has had to consult some colleagues on the closing of their business. It was an emotional roller coaster for all involved. Naturally, when we experience a loss we realize how fragile and impermanent things in life can be. However, like any tribulation, there were lessons learned. We were reminded that we need to set our emotions aside and get down to business so we can be open to the next opportunity rather than blinded by our fear of failure. Here are four ideas to help build and maintain a successful business.
1. Research, research research, oh and did I mention, research? From the moment you get the idea to open a business and throughout the life span of your business, you should conduct market research. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the geographic location your business is in? Who is your competition, how much market share do they hold, and in what ways are they a threat to your business? Psychograpically speaking, who is your target market and what are their daily habits?
2. Be flexible. A musician friend of mine sings “...it takes an awful lot of strength in bending.” If at any point your research or lack of revenue shows that your competitive landscape or target market might be changing, you will need to change with it. The real world is changing every day and your previous business model or marketing strategy may not stand the test of time. You can choose to be stubborn and do things the way you've always done them to avoid being wrong, or you can be flexible, willing to bend, and open to changing along with trends. This approach doesn't make you weak, it makes you strong.
3. Be different. The business world is one of the places you get to be different, unique, even a bit weird and be rewarded by it. A business that can position itself as the one which offers features and advantages that the competition can't will be part of the popular clique, not the one who gets singled out and left behind. Determine early what your unique value proposition is and then do everything in your power to communicate it in everything you say and do. Embrace what makes you stand out, then shout it out from the rooftops (Facebook and Twitter work well too) and communicate it consistently in your marketing mix.
4. Never do nothing. Doing nothing about a problem is taking the easy road, a road that in business leads to no where quickly. Of course, you are not purposely trying to mess up or offend customers, but when it happens, do not ignore the feedback. For example, the customer who writes a poor Yelp review about you/your business. The easy road might be to tell yourself you're better off without this customer who “doesn't understand you.” Wrong! If you're misunderstood, you have no one to blame but yourself. This is your opportunity to grow, to be flexible, and to reinforce what makes you different. Be proactive, be a good listener, do something, anything to show others you care about them and your business.
There's no secret recipe to success but there are intelligent steps to consider. Owning a small business will push you out of your comfort zone, test your strength, and challenge you more than you can image. Do your research, be flexible, be unique, and be proactive. Your reward will be a business that's a lean, mean, fighting machine.