Recent events—namely a global pandemic—have transformed the way we work to suit our new way of living.
For business owners, it’s meant learning how to be more adaptable in the face of uncertainty; being able to pivot quickly to overcome sudden change.
For dreamers and budding entrepreneurs, there’s a lot to consider.
Some things have changed, but others have very much remained the same. And to get things going on the right foot, you need to know what’s what.
To help guide you through how to succeed in this new landscape, we’ve called in a team of business experts who’ve seen and done it all. They’re here to share their insider knowledge on the dos and don’ts of launching a business in the current climate.
Between them, they’ve created six new rules for kick-starting your great business idea now.
Here’s what we cover:
- 1. Prioritize adaptability and flexibility
- 2. Strive for excellence
- 3. Validate the need for what you’re selling
- 4. Ditch the corporate tone of voice and add that personal touch
- 5. Stand for something meaningful
- 6. Embrace the power of technology
- Final thoughts on starting a business
1. Prioritize adaptability and flexibility
Amanda Alexander: “Flexibility is key—other revenue streams, multiple income, and diversification are important for any entrepreneur”
Amanda’s key takeaway from the pandemic was that you don’t always know where the dice is going to land.
So to navigate the uncertainty of markets, demand and behaviors, you need to be able to flex your skill set and create a business model that can be multiple things at once.
Jenny Garrett: “Pivoting quickly and adapting well is essential”
The past couple of years have proven how important it is to adapt quickly. Jenny achieves this through ensuring the following two processes are in place.
Firstly, strong communication, systems and processes allow for super clear and organized distribution of work. This creates room to pivot as the entire business is clear on their roles and purposes.
Secondly, you must have resilience.
Try to anticipate what could go wrong, then account for it with multiple solutions so there’s a back-up plan to make sure you are protected if it happens.
2. Strive for excellence
Carl Reader: “Rather than striving to get by, strive for excellence to be able to get by”
Aiming to just survive isn’t aiming high enough anymore. One thing we’ve learnt from the pandemic is to focus on excellence across your business.
Carl predicts that we are unlikely to see many fads or trends over the next year, so the businesses that survive will be the ones with the customer and team at heart.
Businesses that focus on excellence and driving results.
You need to be ready to roll your sleeves up and get on with it to the highest possible standards.
Jenny Garrett: “Always ask yourself, ‘how can I make this really excellent?’”
When everyone moves online, we need to find a way to stand out. Make sure that you can bring the energy and expertise to the table, and offer your product online in an exciting and innovative way.
You need to be totally clear on why you want to start your business, share why you started it publicly, and then execute it excellently.
3. Validate the need for what you’re selling
Joel Blake: “If you are selling something, how do you know there is a need and who is expressing that need?”
Look for confirmation from your target customers that your product or service will provide something they truly want or need.
And do it in a way that is cost effective but gives you the best quality insight possible.
What’s been really important since the pandemic is that there are no rules. It’s about making sure you have a clear business model and value proposition that relates to the world now.
Carl Reader: “One of the biggest failings of businesses pre-pandemic was that they built products they wanted, not what their customers wanted”
The focus always needs to be on the customer, building your business model around exactly what they want or need.
Next, take the expectations set by big companies such Google and Amazon, use that to see what they don’t offer.
Find the gap and harness it to stand out from them—this is how you find your niche.
Always go back to the original question: ‘Is this something my customer still needs?’
4. Ditch the corporate tone of voice and add that personal touch
Noreen Cesareo: “You need to build up a persona that can stand up on its own”
Think about how to gain trust from your customers—and now more than ever, how to gain trust through a screen.
To build a customer’s confidence in your brand, make sure you share online about who you are both as a person and a business.
What are your values?
What causes do you believe in?
Where are your products made?
And so on.
Once you gain that trust, the brand needs to be expressed through all employees in the company to maintain that trust.
As Noreen says: “Everybody is a marketeer,” from frontline staff to the CEO, so never forget that brand relationship starts with the first person you meet.
Carl Reader: “Developing a personal brand is a more important use of time and money then developing a corporate brand”
Small businesses should focus less on corporate voice and think instead about how personal brands can come into play.
Since the pandemic, the focus has changed to people not companies, and so companies with a personal touch succeed.
You want your customers to resonate with you on a human level.
5. Stand for something meaningful
Jenny: “People need to know what you stand for; neutrality doesn’t cut it anymore”
Hold a position on matters that are important to you and your customers. This needs to be authentic and consistent, not something performative to make you look good online.
Your business needs to plan how to achieve this, and take accountability to make sure it happens, whether that’s through who you employ, buying from particular suppliers, or promoting others through your platform.
Always ask yourself: “How is my business actually living and actioning this?”
Sue Keogh: “The selling point of your business needs to be the company culture, ethics and values”
If people are working remotely, the workplace is no longer what attracts them to your business.
Instead, the selling point now needs to be company culture, ethics and values. People want to feel like they align with who they work for on an ethical level.
This will enable you to find and keep great talent, while creating transparency and authenticity within your business.
Joel Blake: “Put diversity of talent at the heart of your business”
When you are in a position to grow your team, put emphasis on diversifying your talent. Make it the heart of how you run your business. It will bring out innovation within your team.
And no matter what size your business is, innovation will be the key to your success.
6. Embrace the power of technology
Sue Keogh: “Centralize your processes so that communication isn’t just living in an email inbox; it allows you to scale more effortlessly”
Technology can be used as a scaling tool, as long as you know why it is important to your business.
That’s why Sue relies on centralized processes, with the likes of accounting software being one such example, to make sure her team’s communication is organized.
There are two benefits of this approach.
- When you scale your business, everything is easily retrievable and replicable,
- It allows for knowledge transfer within the business, so when your workforce shifts or grows it is more efficient to onboard.
Ian Calvert: “Forget the old, look at the new”
Ian has placed huge importance on getting the most out of new tech.
Technology is an entry point to start you off on the path of creating a successful business.
It’s made it possible to access so many free and accessible resources so you can get started on your new business efficiently, with low costs.
Final thoughts on starting a business
Ultimately, the overriding message from all the entrepreneurs was the same: if you want to start a business, then do it.
Be passionate about what you’re doing and why, find the demand, then go for it. There’s room for everyone, it’s exciting!
Want to learn more about how to start a business and make it thrive? Stay tuned to watch some of these entrepreneurs share their best advice on our Instagram, @sageofficial.
How to start your business
Want to start your own business but not sure how to proceed? Read this guide for tips on creating a business plan, working out who your customers will be and much more.
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