When I had resigned from my corporate job to pursue an alternate career path almost a decade ago, entrepreneurship was not really the talk of the town.
However, the scenario has changed completely today and it is wonderful to see talks about entrepreneurship in every forum and platform. Even the Government has been coming up with numerous initiatives and schemes to support and encourage entrepreneurs. There has been an upsurge in the number of small and medium scale businesses run by women which is not just a great sign for the economy, but is also very inspiring.
As a part of my work, I have been mentoring many women on entrepreneurship and have discovered that though women have amazing ideas and execution skills, sometimes lack of direction and right guidance can hinder their growth. I have realized that a little bit of hand-holding at the beginning goes a long way in instilling confidence, clarity and an insatiable hunger in them.
Based on my interactions with women trying to establish their ventures in various industries, the most common point/query that keeps coming up during discussions is – “What are the basic and important things to keep in mind or put into place while starting a new business or venture?”
In this post, I am not going to talk about registering the business and similar tasks that are obvious and process-oriented. Rather, I will be focusing on the mental, intuitive and skill-based aspects of entrepreneurship. These points would be applicable for small/medium scale enterprises.
Starting a new business first needs a vision
Be clear about your vision because everything else follows from here.
You have a passion and you want to convert it into a profitable business. This is wonderful but it’s important to think beyond the products and services before starting itself.
Ask yourself these questions – What is the problem you are trying to solve? What value do you wish to add to those you want to reach out to? What kind of impact do you wish to create? Answering these questions are crucial to starting a new business, because these answers will drive all your decisions and strategies.
What will make your business stand out?
Spend some time to research the market in your domain.
The insights you gain from this should neither be used to copy what others are doing because it’s working, nor should it be about one-upmanship. This research should be done with an intent to be aware and updated, and this step will also help you better define your USP.
In today’s times, this is extremely vital. What makes your enterprise stand out? Why should customers come to you when there are numerous other options available? Think on these lines.
Starting a business with a goal in mind
Start with well-defined and clear goals, even if short term ones initially.
Goals can be short term. In any case, COVID has shown us that planning 10 years ahead is not really required, as we would never know what the future holds for us. Therefore, take it a step at a time and keep assessing whether you are on track intermittently.
Keep going ahead with a “what next” attitude instead of thinking of the “what if” scenarios. This does not mean you should not be prepared for adversities. But a task-oriented mindset helps in getting over the fears and inhibitions that stop us from reaching up to our full potential.
Be ready to explore options
Explore and trust the innovative streak within you.
In my experience, times are changing and so is the name of the game. You cannot do a business by the book any more. You should be ready to experiment and re-invent from time to time. This will also build the resilience and adaptability quotient of your enterprise.
Skills and resources are, of course, the backbone of your company, but the capability to innovate will strengthen your core and help in expanding the customer base too.
Social media is your friend when starting a new business
Use social media wisely and optimally to target the right customers and enhance reach.
A lot of small-scale entrepreneurs do not tap the potential that social media holds completely. If done the right way, social media can play a huge role in the right branding and in establishing meaningful customer relationships. The engagement it can provide can take your brand several notches higher in an inexpensive and convenient way.
Spend time to decide first what are you expecting out of your social media marketing and campaigns. “Increasing number of followers” is a myopic way of looking at it. There are several other statistics that are more useful which should be considered keeping in mind your vision.
Focus on consistency and creativity. Once you have your high-level social media plan and strategy in place, you will be in a much better position to make your social media pages in sync with your brand identity.
Networking, networking, networking
Collaboration over competition should be the mantra.
With the changing entrepreneurial landscape, especially in the smaller scale companies, it makes much more sense to network and grow together than trying to get the better of the competitors. There is a space for each idea and vision, and collaboration can be mutually beneficial to both the parties involved.
Be a part of Facebook and other social media groups and networks that are relevant to you. There is a lot that can be explored in this aspect and creativity would know no bounds with multiple heads coming together. Also, there is nothing more motivating than to have a circle of sisterhood with similar interests and mindsets.
What is the story of your brand?
Use storytelling to establish a strong connect with your patrons.
People love to get some insights about a brand other than just what you have to offer. What is the story of your brand? What is the story behind a product? What happens behind the scenes? Incorporate all this in your communication with the customers from day one itself, whatever be the mode.
Storytelling plays a key role in evoking a certain emotion in customers the moment your brand is mentioned. It may be a good investment idea to attend a workshop on the art of effective storytelling in business.
When it comes to starting a business and running it well, there are a multitude of threads that need to be sewn together. The learnings are endless and there is certainly no “one size fits all” here. But these little pointers above will give you the right head-start into taking that flight towards your dreams!