Technology has made it easier than ever to make the leap from the nine-to-five life to being a full-fledged entrepreneur. Although building a website, getting your business incorporated and organizing your home office may be easy enough to do, getting the customers to buy your product or service offering is undoubtedly a much more challenging prospect, especially when you’re competing in a saturated market with companies a lot larger than yours.
DO: Take advantage of small business mentors
The Small Business Association (SBA) is a government organization that exists primarily to encourage and assist small business owners in getting their small businesses up, running and profitable. Each local chapter has a monthly calendar that includes seminars, workshops and skill-building sessions that are available for free to anyone who signs up. There are even weekly opportunities to be paired with a mentor who can help guide you step-by-step in how to be successful with your venture.
DO: Mine local resources
In addition to the SBA, most cities have a Chamber of Commerce, which can be a great resource for upcoming events around town that may offer important partnership opportunities and visibility for your business. They also have weekly and monthly networking meetings or “meet and greets” where you can offer information about your business and perhaps gain a few customers.
Using market intelligence as a tool to keep an eye on the moves made by your competitors is an extremely useful strategy for expanding your small business in a large competitive market.
Do not duplicate what your competitors are doing, but use the information gathered through market intelligence for framing better marketing strategies for your business. Be on the lookout for the untapped opportunities utilized by a big competitor, and follow your competitor’s lead.
DON’T: Don’t try to mimic the strategies of the large corporate brands
Big brands have so much more money than you that the sheer volume of what they are putting out always eclipses small business owners. The key to gaining a foot-hold with the same customers that the large corporations have is to do something different. Customers can appreciate innovation and a personal touch, which they don’t tend to experience as much with a large, impersonal corporate entity.
DON’T: Put all your marketing ideas in one basket
Chances are that, as a new small business owner, you’re starting out with a limited budget. It’s always important to use each dollar that you spend wisely, but the importance of this is paramount when you’re still scrambling for customers. You may have heard about the best marketing strategy on the planet, but be careful of “the shiny object syndrome.”
There are always new marketing strategies, sales plans, books and seminars that tell you how to do marketing the right way, but the key as a small business is to be diversified and try different approaches. This way, you don’t break the bank if one idea fails, and you also get a feel for what types of things work best for your particular business and what techniques are best left to someone else.
Ultimately, owning a small business can be an exciting prospect, but it certainly is not the easy road that some would have you believe. There is a lot of hard work involved, and in the beginning, it’s probably more work than you did in your corporate job. By taking advantage of local resources and using a little ingenuity along with the willingness to be patient and flexible, you can build your own little empire, regardless of the big corporations that are in your niche.