The internet is great. Not only has it connected the world like never before, but it has made the long-sought promise of universal knowledge a reality. Information is finally accessible to nearly everyone. That is no small feat. But there is one other thing the internet has enabled which may be less apparent: it has made it easier than ever to become an entrepreneur.
However, as any business person can tell you, starting a business and succeeding at business are two completely separate realities. Thus, while the internet makes it easy to start your own business – with outlets like Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon helpful for ecommerce, and search engines and social media helpful for advertising and self-promotion – there is still no guarantee for success. Which is why you may find these five strategies and tips for running your own successful business helpful:
If you’re considering embarking on a career as an SEO consultant, IT professional, web designer, or e-commerce retailer, this article is for you.
1. Utilize a Personal Network
All businesses must start somewhere. If you are venturing out on your own as a consultant, tap into your business connections on LinkedIn to hunt down leads and opportunities. If you are starting an internet retailing business on Etsy or Ebay, look to your friends and family to help spread the word. Though any business that depends on the patronage of friends and family members alone is likely not long for this world, not seeking their help – particularly in the early, developmental stages – is simply silly. Leverage your network to help get the word out and find business opportunities. Your personal network is, in effect, a free marketing and lead generating tool.
2. Seek Advice
Too many business owners make the mistake of avoiding criticism, ignoring advice, and failing to heed sound recommendations. Whether you pride yourself on your SEO knowledge or are an IT professional, the odds are good that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. Seek advice from like-minded professionals and find online resources that can help broaden your knowledge. SEO consultants are likely to find invaluable info on sites like Moz and Search Engine Land. Retailers and business owners seeking entrepreneurial advice should look to trade publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider or industry blogs like Amway Connections. Written by knowledgeable, experienced, and successful contributors, they can be never-ending wells of knowledge.
3. Be Competitive with Pricing
You may be tempted to price yourself towards the top of the marketplace in order to appear more “legitimate” to potential customers. After all, only amateurs offer their services for cheap, right? Well, avoid this temptation if you hope to have any success, at least in the first couple of years of your business. The simple fact of life is that your customers – whether large businesses seeking professional consultation services or individuals buying retail products – will be doing their due diligence. Don’t assume that they will fall for whatever price you choose to charge. Price your products or services competitively when starting out.
4. Develop a Vision
What does your business stand for? What do you hope to achieve? Where do you see your business in the future? What are your ultimate goals? It helps to have a vision in place, not only because it can help guide your approach to the many practical concerns that will inevitably arise, but also because it can help shepherd a long-term strategy. If you are selling hand-made items on Etsy or offer your services as an SEO consultant online, where can your business go? How will you grow revenue and reach? A lack of vision can result in stagnancy or even a slow but inevitable decline in business. Don’t make that mistake; always have something to strive for, or else face the risk of losing your motivation and purpose.
5. Finally, Watch Your Expenses!
There are really just two ways to increase profit: make more money (so simple on paper, yet so challenging in real life) or reduce your expenses. If you’re starting out, keep a close eye on your business expenses. Yes, most can be written off at the end of the year for tax purposes, but all that does is lower your tax obligation. If you actually want money in the bank at the end of the year, you still need to make a profit. And those expenses still need to be paid for! Don’t spend frivolously and don’t make the mistake of wasting away all of your revenue on unnecessary recurring expenses. Always ask yourself before signing up for a service or making a business-related purchase: Do I really need this?
~ Jessica Oaks