Top 10 tips to start and grow a business
When I founded Weebly in 2007 at the age of 23, I didn’t exactly know what success could look like. I teamed up with two of my friends and fellow Penn State students to build the first drag and drop platform that allows anyone to easily create a high quality website.
Today, Weebly hosts sites and e-commerce stores for more than 35 million users, and has unlocked entrepreneurial potential in over 170 countries. It’s inspiring to see how easily people are bringing their ideas and dreams to life online by building their own online presence.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned and my ten top tips on how to start a successful business online.
1 Create a product people actually want
It may seem obvious, but ensuring you’re creating a unique product people actually want will make or break your business. The easiest way to do this is research. Now, market research might seem like a big deal, but in reality it’s relatively simple. Using your resources to the best of your abilities is key. When starting out, there’s no need to worry about outlandish research plans. Instead, focus on what you already have access to: a potential client base. Talking to friends and family, sending out a survey, or even just looking up popular products online, are all pretty effective ways of getting feedback.
2 Don’t be shy about your idea
If you’re guarding your business idea like gold because you are afraid it might get stolen, there’s something you need to realise. First of all, most people are way too busy with their own business plans to give their time or interest in taking someone else’s idea and growing it into a multimillion-dollar business. And what’s more:
ideas are worthless. This might sound strange and daunting but almost every idea has already been thought through. What really matters is realising them, as very few people have the drive and motivation needed to bring their ideas to life.
3 Focus on execution
It can be easy to get side-tracked when starting out, but action is what will drive results. Don’t spend too much time on planning, writing business plans or creating the perfect logo – just make your idea happen. The most successful start-up founders are known to be risk takers. Identify one or two important goals and start with a constant focus on execution of these goals before you take the next step.
4 Don't expect overnight success
If you expect to be a success overnight, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. Success in business relies heavily on your ability to face losses and failings, and to move on and learn from them. Instead of being disheartened when thinking about your success as a long process, think of it as an opportunity to expand your business and customer base.
5 Design a great website and e-commerce storefront
It is now easier than ever to create a clean, user-friendly website for your business. You don’t need to be an engineering genius anymore to design an appealing website or online store to entice your customers and give them the opportunity to purchase from you 24/7. Optimising your site for mobile access and adding SEO tags will boost your search ranking and help grow your business.
6 Don't go into ‘Hero Mode’
Finding balance is one of the most underrated strengths in business. It’s not productive to get stuck in the mentality of “if you want it done right, then do it yourself”. It’s common among business owners just starting out, but often leads to losing the ability to see the end goal. It’s important that entrepreneurs learn how to give away responsibility and trust their team the more the business flourishes.
7 Keep business and customers aligned
Customers need to have a desire for your product, but they will also have a want to align themselves with your business. This means that staying in touch with them and consistently reinforcing your brand values is essential. Staying aligned with those around you also extends to the employees of your business as it expands. The more the business grows, the more important it is to ensure all employees and customers fully understand and embrace your vision.
8 Don't do it alone
Starting a business isn’t something that you should do alone. Investors have learned not to invest in ideas but in teams they think can deliver innovative solutions. Find one or two co-founders who share similar goals and visions. Even if you could do all the work yourself, you need a team to brainstorm with, to question things, to share different views and to boost morale when things go wrong.
9 Do everything you can to stay cash flow positive
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, but how can you find ways to jump start being cash flow positive from the beginning? Ideally, get your clients to pay money up-front for your services or your product. If that proves tricky it can be helpful to try asking for deposits on work up-front, with balances due on delivery.
10 Attract and retain talent
The key to successfully scaling is to hire the best people and trust them to do the best work. Especially at the beginning, when money is tight and your company might lack reputation, you can’t afford to make hiring mistakes. But if you build an exciting business that’s trying to do something visionary and you are able to communicate this, good people will want to work for you. When it comes to retaining talent, trust is key. Empower your employees and give them the opportunity to own what they do.
By David Rusenko, founder and CEO of Weebly
Read the August 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.
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