6 Tips to Protect Your Startup Success
Congratulations! Your startup is on, running, and well on its way to landing on the Forbes Inc. 5000 list of fast growing companies. If this sounds like you, after giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back it’s time to look to the future. Employ some proactive thinking and poise yourself to handle market challenges with grace and ease; going belly-up is a very real concern, despite the current success you’re reveling in. Although there’s no surefire way to stand up against a volatile market teeming with competition, there are definitive tips to better your odds. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and excitement during your initial launch period but now that the waters are beginning to settle, check in with your company and make sure you’re following these essential tips—they’re some of the best ways to protect your startup’s success.
- Customer Service
Amazon was one of the first pioneers of this fundamental tenet back in the ‘90s with their “customer obsessed” business model and has since evolved into one of the world’s largest companies. Follow suit by making sure you have top notch customer service with real, genuine people—not insincere robots. Go above and beyond for your customers, and don’t simply fix problems after they arrive. Offer generous discounts for birthdays, free returns, and follow up correspondence to create a solid customer base who’s ready to have your back when things get tough.
Also take a look at your team, especially if you’re getting complaints about certain employees regularly. Take preventative action by thoroughly vetting each hire and ensure any applicant you interview is capable of fulfilling the duties of the position. Run a credit and criminal background check for employment before offering the job to any candidate; this upfront investment will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars by preventing turnover and negligent hiring claims.
- Learn from Criticism
On the note of customer service, you’re bound to encounter an unhappy customer once or twice. Before balking—or crying—over their caustic remarks, try to use the situation as a tool for growth. Criticism can be helpful if it teaches you where you need to most improve so use feedback to your advantage and pay attention to any problems you perhaps didn’t notice. See if you can use the opportunity to convert an unhappy camper into a satisfied customer by expressing your appreciation, apology, and amendments. Offer them something for their inconvenience and it might just turn into a win-win situation.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Raise your ranks in Google using tried and true SEO methods; your startup will get more exposure, new leads, and constant revenue. Some great SEO techniques include building backlinks, writing blogs, optimizing keywords, reporting data and analytics. If you’re unfamiliar with these strategies, hire someone who’s more experienced.
- Market Research
Don’t let a sudden market crash catch you off guard. Constantly monitor the conditions and carefully watch forecasts so you can adjust production accordingly. During your research, aim to understand your customer base and how to best reach them. Track your (SEO-enhanced) website to learn who your main demographic is and which marketing delivers the most conversion. This is also a good time to look into other companies in your field who are similar to your startup. While you should always prioritize your energy on your own business, keep a watchful eye on your competitors and their offerings.
After scoping out the competition, use your market research to innovate and shake things up. We’re not exactly talking about product innovation; no one is asking you to reinvent the wheel. However, if you can take a different approach to how you advertise your product, find a new price scheme, or offer a different bonus to your customers, you can significantly set yourself apart from competition. Think back to the boom of the subscription economy; one day an entrepreneur had an idea to sell products on a monthly basis, and now there’s the Dollar Shave Club, scheduled cosmetic deliveries, and subscriptions for fashion finds among many other memberships. Your big idea could be the next revolution.
- Do Something You Love
Finally, protect the success of your startup by doing what you love every day. Remember the entrepreneurial spirit that got you to where you are and never let go of it. If your heart isn’t in it, the temptation to bail when things get rough will be too high. Expect choppy waters and be grateful for the smooth seas. Have faith in your ability to weather the storm and your startup will be better suited to withstand the test of time.
Do you have any more suggestion and tips for entrepreneurs and startup owners, please feel free to share your thoughts below.
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