While online enterprises are expanding at a great rate, there are still opportunities for bricks and mortar businesses to thrive. Starting a local business is tough going. It takes grit and determination to get it off the ground and continued hard grind to make it a success. Do your homework, build the right framework, and get the right mechanisms in place to achieve profit and sustainability.
No matter how fantastic you believe your product or service to be, you have to research the local market to find out if your business will be viable and sustainable. What can you offer consumers that they don’t already have? If you’re starting a business offering a similar product or service to your neighbours, what are you offering that is different? Do consumers want it? Competing on price alone isn’t an option for certain types of small businesses so can you specialise? Also, think about the local economy. Is it buoyant enough to support your business? Can your business remain sustainable if there is a downturn?
You won’t get far without a business plan. Financial backers will insist on one. They will demand to examine the viability of your business, its growth potential and projected ROI. Even if you don’t need financial backing, your plan is an essential guide to help you to stay focused on your vision and track and monitor progress. There are no set rules on how long your plan should be as long as it accurately reflects your business and demonstrates your commitment to succeed. Your business plan should include:
- Your long-term vision – an outline of what you want to achieve, the type of business, your products or services, and your plan for success.
- Type of business – will you be a sole trader or enter into a partnership?
- Your business strategy – your goals for achieving your vision; and milestones and outcomes that will help you determine how and when you achieve them.
- Financial plan – include immediate and projected budget requirements. Make it credible – detail facts based on realistic projections of costs and profits.
- Your competitive advantage – describe how your products or services are different to and better than your competitors.
- Your marketing strategy – who and where are your customers? What marketing methods will you use? How will you attract and retain sufficient numbers to secure a healthy profit? Are you in a prime location to attract footfall?
- Your team – if you have one! Provide role descriptions and detail how they will contribute to the success of your business.
Although your business will be local; your marketing strategy should still be a priority. Who are your customers? Are you trying to attract residents or is your business seasonal to attract tourists? Directly selling to consumers is the mainstay for local businesses who rely heavily on footfall. But you have to let them know your business is there! Don’t wait around for consumers to find you. And, when you do attract customers, look after them so that they spread the word to their family and friends in the community.
There is a wealth of marketing strategies to choose from such as online marketing using email, content, social media, etc. Select the right fit for your business. Also build a website, one that incorporates marketing elements – don’t just put up one dazzling web page with little else. And, if you install automated marketing systems, you will be able to increase; track and monitor progress, and provide outstanding customer service.
Following these steps will increase the likelihood of building a successful business for local consumers and visitors. Researching your market, creating your business plan, and implementing a marketing strategy, will help you to keep focused on your vision and the ultimate success of your business.