About 14 years ago, one of the most challenging yet rewarding endeavors we have pursued was to start our own small business online. For two generations before me, my parents and my grandparents started their own businesses with much success. Opening a small business online, however, was entering into new territory where only the earliest adopters have stepped foot. This was indeed a challenge but one we embraced. Why? With two full time jobs, why would we want to add more on our plates? This calculated risk was something we knew would be just the right thing for us….so much so that it has allowed for extra income and increased flexibility for us.
1) Know your vision and align your business goals with this vision – Where do you see this business heading towards? How will you measure success reaching those goals? Research has shown time and time again that documenting your goals increases your likelihood of reaching them
2) Know your competition – If you are clear about what products and services you offer, you should do research on what your competitors offer. Perhaps they provide a specialized service that you can not compete with. Perhaps your product can be offer to your customers at a lower price in higher quantity. If you understand what the market looks like for your products and services, you will be more successful because you did your homework
3) Listen, Learn and Act – Communicate with your customers. Hear what they are saying and have a candid conversation. Be open to what you are doing well and what you can improve upon. Look at what other successful businesses are doing. See what works well and act upon that knowledge.
4) Keep Learning what works well – An ongoing evaluation (formal or informal) helps you to keep on top of how your business is going and where it will be going. Keep in front of your customers so you keep a business flow (leads, referrals, orders, re-orders). Also, establish your brand. People are more likely to buy from people they know (or know of) and are familiar with.