Reach for the Sky: Guide to Maximizing Your Business PotentialPosted by Ali Stathers
In today’s business environment, it seems everyone is a budding entrepreneur. The question is, how does one stand out in such an inundated crowd. While many start-up enterprises channel all the money they have (and even some they don’t have) into outside help, some of the most elevating practices out there come from within. Here are some of the best avenues to help your business truly take off:
Get to Know Your Customer
The more specialized your business is, the more customized your outreach toward the ideal customer should be. Many green entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to reach an almost ghostly universal subject, devoid of any specific attributes, but instead, an entrepreneur should ask him or herself who they think their ideal client should be — and try to spot patterns among already-existing customer bases.
A business person’s profile should be a segmentation of more rigid demographic factors (age, race, and gender) as well as more fluid psychographic indicators (lifestyle, personality, and consumption patterns). If there’s a gap between the kinds of people you dreamed of serving when you conceived your business and the sorts of people currently patronizing it, define the nature of that gap and chart ways with which to close it.
Maximize Your Web Presence
Many newer business owners mistakenly believe that simply having a whip-smart website is good enough. That’s only part of the equation, as your website is not about to generate its own traffic. While hiring a marketing consultancy can be an effective way to connect with a larger client base, using social media to create more long-form, narrative-based relationships with the kinds of people you’ve already targeted (see last step) is a much more cost-effective and organic way to establish your brand.
Image Courtesy of rosalxxi of Flickr.com
Network the Old Fashioned Way
Obviously, given the current state of play in business it would be a fool’s errand not to take full advantage of the customer outreach possibilities of net-based social networking. However, in many cases there’s no replacement for good old flesh-and-blood charm. Especially if you’re in the start-up phase of building a business, getting out there and showing your face at social events (or even hosting them) may be the key to attracting investors. Calculating a brilliant Facebook strategy is one thing, but talking the talk face-to-face is a way to prove you’re not a “walking spam-bot,” as it were, and sneak past the defenses of today’s justifiably cynical potential contacts.
While you may feel a bit disingenuous about blurring the line between business and pleasure, in today’s business environment, it’s become an accepted part of the culture in some regions. Furthermore, conventionally “working the room” can, paradoxically, be a great way to buttress your web-based efforts. A glowing tweet about your presence at a local event, for example, can boost your company’s image more than paid advertising.
Here’s another arena where fresher businesspeople tend to falter. While referral programs that rely on rewards and similar incentives — store credit; custom-made, branded freebies — may bring across a whiff of corny, step-right-up hucksterism, they work surprisingly well in making new clientele stand up and take notice. In addition, look for like-minded businesses who may be willing to partner up for affiliate “pay for performance” initiatives.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure your enterprise continues to expand is to make sure that your vision of it continues to evolve. While a clear vision is necessary to forge dreams into realities, attentive relationships with clientele and an ear to changing environments will make the difference between a static business and a dynamic one.
What have YOU been doing in 2014 to maximize your business potential?
Camille McClane is a writer, researcher and editor based in Southern California. She enjoys writing on all-things tech, social media, marketing and entertainment-related articles. She also frequently contributes to the blog at Gryffin. She hopes you enjoy this article!