In 2000 we were a Start-Up too. In those days we called it ‘new company’. It was the same thing but there wasn’t a TV series of the same name being distributed in the UK by Amazon Prime.
Like your Start-Up we faced the daunting challenge of trying to enter a crowded market. Like you we felt we had something different to offer. In our case: Top-Level experience, creativity and a track record of delivering great marketing services for others, which we wanted to deliver under our own brand name: Sambecketts.
We carry the scars.
Starting a business isn’t easy. It is a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs as you develop your reputation, gain customers and refine your products and services.
Since that time our team has been part of several Start-Up projects. For some we have been shareholders and for some we have simply provided the outsourced marketing required. Combined, our Start-Up involvements return turnovers into the £ multiple millions. But not once have we got everything right. What we have done though, is learn. The pace of technological change provides constant challenges for every business these days. Staying on top of every new development is almost impossible and carries the risk of diverting you just as much as helping you grow. What we have learned is that certain aspects of each success have remained constant.
Truth and resilience
It starts with being truthful with yourself and others. Do you truly believe in your business idea? If too much doubt creeps in at the start of your venture you will not retain the clarity of vision, which is essential for succeeding. It is natural and probably quite healthy to be nervous but you will need resilience and focus to create a new business. Both of those requirements will be ably supported with good planning at the front end.
We always knew this to be important for businesses but learned it quite late ourselves. These days we believe we have mastered the art of planning and have specialist expertise within Sambecketts who have advised at the highest corporate levels. We now provide comprehensive and, in our opinion - invaluable, planning and strategy services, which can sense-test your vision and Business Plan to look for areas you might need to improve before launching or set clear marketing direction for those vital early years.
One of the challenges for new businesses is the lack of track record, lack of reputation and absence of previous success, with which to attract new customers. We have learned the fine art of managing this process, without which many companies fail. One of our great teachers who used to be the Strategic Director for (at the time when he was there) the world’s fastest growing hotel group, had a simple philosophy about Brand Development. ‘There is only one way to build a brand – eat into competitor share.’ We have followed this advice and found it to be an accurate marker for progress. Today, marketing channels have changed. Online Marketing (including all digital channels) means that competing can, in simplistic terms, be bought – for the right price. But most Start-Ups don’t have the budgets necessary simply to eject the market leaders. They are spending plenty protecting what they have. For that reason there is an enduring need for Start-Up’s to box clever.
Every successful Start-Up has marketed their business with savvy, expertise and of course a bit of good old fashioned luck. Each will tell you a different story about how they broke into the market and yours will be different again, however certain truths prevail. Having planned a strategy and addressed the perception issues with skill, finding your entry point will be the next critical step and, once you have, there will almost certainly be a period where, in marketing terms, you have to box clever. This includes rigorous scrutiny of your product or service offering, smart use of online marketing, genuine appreciation and awareness of your competition and clinical focus on how customers want to be treated and the creativity to deliver it. Today, this requires a very specific approach.
Product Company mentality Being ready to innovate, improve, and deliver with a constant aim to increase value at every turn is the Product Company mentality. It has served the forces in Silicon Valley with staggering effect. It is almost a cultural shift from simply providing a service or product, to becoming a part of your customer’s lives. If you own a smart-phone this will make sense – each iteration aims to be better, offer more value and make life easier. So what about smaller businesses? Let’s take just one random example: If you are a florist you can either provide a service: lovely flowers reliably delivered at a good price and leave it at that, or you can become a go-to partner for every event, occasion or celebration with increasingly memorable displays, more and more refined to match precisely your customers need at consistently improving value. Your service can become easier to engage with, convenient digital purchase options, welcoming feedback encouragements in order to learn about your ‘products’, more flexible delivery options and the list goes on. This slight cultural shift will stand your Start-Up in good shape to compete long term and offer you the intense satisfaction of becoming a business owner.