It’s important for startups to develop professional and constructive relationships with other companies, from the get go. Business owners have to remember that they are going to rely on other firms for very important things or services, so they need to have the right frame of mind on this. It’s not helpful to appear to be arrogant or overbearing. Your startup may have the idea for the next big thing, but even the next big thing won’t be able to do everything.
So for example, if your company has property that needs to be managed, then be sure to have a good relationship with the firm in charge of property management on the North Shore, or wherever the property or properties are located. Learn the art of good and effective communication. Set expectations appropriately. Never burn bridges unnecessarily. And take what you learn from one relationship, and apply it to all your other working relationships. Over time, this type of attitude will benefit you as an owner, and your company in general.
If you’re new to a particular industry, you need to do what you can so that prospective customers will remember you. Now, this can be a tall order, especially if your industry is very competitive, and if there are already well-established brands in your field. While this can be difficult, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. It just means that you need to make more of an effort, and you need to look for creative but professional ways to stand out.
Now, some companies get so caught up in doing things that are different or novel, that they forget the fundamentals. One of these is simply having small items to give to prospective customers, and to show appreciation. This is a pretty standard thing, so you need to make sure that you have your own version. The more useful and thoughtful the item, the better. So for example, you could come up with plastic key tags which come with useful information printed on them, or a lovely design. This will make it more likely that the tags will actually be used, and this would be good for greater brand awareness.
Startups are a particular kind of firm which could benefit greatly from the use of loyalty cards. Now, this is more applicable to some kinds of startups. But the general idea is that startups are usually competing against established businesses and brands. The companies that have been around for a while might have already accumulated quite a number of loyal customers. This loyalty could be based on a number of things.. Maybe people patronize a particular company because their parents did the same. Maybe they’re familiar with it because it’s been around for so long, and so on.
These are advantages that startups will not usually possess. They’re the new kid on the block, so they need to give people a reason to try them out. Printing loyalty cards and maximizing their effectiveness can help to convince people to give the startup a try. People usually like free things or services, so they might consider leaving the well established brand even temporarily, just so that they can avail of the loyalty card rewards. If used strategically and effectively, these cards can make a difference.
As you go about setting up your business, consider whether a technical support system of some sort will be needed. This will usually be rather important if you’re selling physical products which are capable of malfunctioning or not working as intended. Your customers will need a way to get in touch with you, in order to ask questions about getting a product to work, or in order to find out how to go about replacing or repairing a problematic product.
So you need to have your technical support system in place well ahead of any potential problems. You need to set up the numbers for people to call and make these known to them. These may be 0800 numbers or some other form of hotline. You’ll also need to make sure that these lines are adequately staffed by representatives who have the necessary knowledge and training to address your customers’ concerns. Technical support issues offer you the opportunity to show that you treat your customers with respect, so you need to make sure that your system runs smoothly.
If you want your business to become successful, you need to learn from your competitors and other businesses. This is, after all, sort of a race. You’re all racing to outdo each other when it comes to impressing customers and gaining their loyalty. So you can’t just sit back in a complacent little island, and hope that what you’re doing is enough. You need to get out there, get real and then get to work.
So let’s talk about plaster. If your business has a physical office or store, keep an eye out on the exteriors of your competitors. How do they decorate their places? What about their exteriors is inviting? And what makes an exterior a turn off for customers? Armed with this information, make the necessary changes to your premises. Bring in the Rock Solid professionals to make sure that the work is done well, and the outcome is aesthetically pleasing. Then continue to keep an eye on your competitors.
As you work hard to establish your startup company, you need to make sure that you don’t lose touch with what is happening around you. This is one thing that sets successful companies apart from the others. If you’re aware of what the current trends are, then you’re in a better position to take advantage of them in order to grow. But if you’re not familiar with how things are changing quickly around you, then you’re going to have a problem.
So for example, you might be running a restaurant. You can’t just focus on the operational side and the logistics of running the place. You need to expand your horizons and figure out how your target market is changing. You might find out, for instance, through social media or news aggregators that speed dating in New Zealand is gaining in popularity. If so, you might then try to tie up with one of the speed dating services, so that they can set up their events in your restaurant. This allows your place to become even more relevant to the audience and market in your area.
You don’t have to be running a multinational conglomerate in order to take advantage of internationalization. Of course, large companies with a wide array of products will tend to have offices and warehouses in countries around the world. But even if you run a much smaller operation, don’t limit yourself to the opportunities that are just within your city or country. In this day and age, and with the advent of even more technology, you need to widen your imagination.
So for example, if you are running a small restaurant, there may still be ways to make the most of global outsourcing opportunities. Think about what needs to be done by people who are in your geographic location and what doesn’t. It might be possible that your accounting back end doesn’t need to be located in your country. Or if you have someone responding to customer service complaints or requests via email, that person could be in the Philippines, India or Vietnam, and that wouldn’t make this more inconvenient for you. Keep in mind that cheap international transfers are very much available. You will just need to familiarize yourself with how they work. Once that happens, you’ll find that you’ve expanded your possibilities quite a bit.
In a previous post, I talked about how it’s so important to make sure that there aren’t any pests on your premises. This is particularly true if you run a restaurant, or if you do any work involving the preparation or handling of food. But even if you do manage to keep your place of business free of pests, that still isn’t enough. Instead, you’ll also need to make sure that your place is clean, and just as important, that it looks clean.
Let’s take carpeting as an example. When you start a business and lay the carpet, it looks crisp and clean. However, sooner than you may think, and depending on the amount of foot traffic, that carpet is going to begin to look more dirty and dingy. You can’t just let that happen. If people see a dirty carpet, they’re going to link the idea of poor hygiene with your company. It’s a good reason to bring in professionals. So for example, it would be a good idea to find the best carpet cleaner in Christchurch, so that you can rest assured that they’re going to get the job done. Make sure that regular cleaning and maintenance is already scheduled, so that your carpeting will look good all year round.
It’s important to remember that social media can be a very powerful thing. This is especially true if your business involves the preparation of food, or the running of a restaurant. Nowadays, people make it a point to check their social networks or dining sites to find out which places have good or bad reviews. You can’t ignore this trend. Good word of mouth can help make up for a small marketing budget. Bad word of mouth, on the other hand, can be a disaster. So you need to make sure your business makes a good impression.
For example, if you run a restaurant, make sure the place is clean. There are a lot of horror stories floating around online about how a customer saw a rat inside a restaurant, or about how someone found a dead bug in her pasta, that sort of thing. Make sure you hire the services of a good rodent control service. Think of it as a continuing investment in the goodwill and possible good word of mouth of your customers.
It takes a lot of ambition to be willing to step up and compete with established players in markets with high barriers to entry. But every few years you’ll hear the story of a start-up who dared to take on the giants – and ended up making big waves in their industry.
Take an example like Orbit Remit, a new international money transfer service who has gone into the market competing with massive names like Paypal and Western Union. How can a company like this compete with these established giants, who are incredibly well resourced?
One lesson is: play smart. If you’re operating on limited resources, you have to be much smarter than your competition in how you use those resources. You can’t out muscle the big guys, but you can learn and develop strategies and systems that leverage your resources in significantly more effective ways.
It helps to recognise that many large companies are actually much less efficient than they seem on the surface, and their processes and systems may be out of date.
Another key factor is having an extremely strong point of difference and making sure it comes through clear in ALL of your marketing. In the money transfer example, the big players are charging exorbitant rates – new competitors like Orbit Remit are therefore able to get a foothold because they have developed relationships that allow them to offer much lower transfer rates, and they can leverage that point of difference in their sales and marketing as a compelling benefit.