How to survive setting up a new business: from a businessman just like you
Ant Rodgers from Protein Pick & Mix answered some of our questions on being a new business to help you succeed. When asked what do you wish you had known getting started in your business, Ant replied ‘Probably too many things to list – and I’m still learning daily’. The truth is there is no quick fix. The market is constantly changing no matter what field you are in, so the most important thing to focus on is survival.
Survival – but what does that really mean?
As a business owner, you should be prepared for the unexpected. We live in such unprecedented times and each business is different so we can’t go into specifics here but we can help guide you in the right direction! “It takes a long time to build a stable business regardless of industry but, where e-commerce differs, we’re tens, hundreds or even thousands of orders a day, and each transaction is, in its own little way, a new battle.” – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix.
The key to survival is to complete a risk assessment for your company. Here are 5 key factors to take into consideration:
- Refocus your marketing
- Cut costs
- Focus on existing customers
- Seek advice
- Improve your offering
Refocus your Marketing
The power of social media and online marketing should not be ignored! As a small business it can be hard to really push those follower numbers up, but keep pushing! Keep sharing posts, use hashtags, even look into tactics to grab user attention. Could you run a promotion? Could you do a giveaway with T&C’s about sharing your post to their followers? All broadening your potential reach.
“Trial and (much) error saw us through the first few years of the business.” – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix. This is exactly the tactics to take when starting up, you do not know exactly what marketing works for your market, so it’s time to experiment. Use the fact that you are new to your advantage. Ask questions to followers, run polls/quizzes, gain great insights into customers wants/needs and use this in your marketing efforts.
It is clear that Protein Pick & Mix know exactly what their customers are looking for! Just look at their logo:
Reality is if you sell online, you care for making money quickly (don’t we all!). However to make the most you need to cut any non-essential costs. Focus on your inventory – Overselling can cause unhappy customers but having too much inventory of one product can cause issues with cashflow. It has to be the right balance!
Cutting costs can relate to finding cheaper shipping rates and using different couriers, cheaper suppliers, using a software instead of hiring more staff. All of these can consume more of your profits. Although it is important to remember, profit is not always the key focus.
“I think the most important thing I initially struggled to get my head around was that (brace yourselves) you won’t make money on every order.” – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix. As you may have to use tactics that lower your margins, it is possible not to make money on every order however a loyal customer is much higher in value.
Focus on existing customers
Ensuring existing customers are happy should be a top priority for you, those first few sales can be the difference between brand loyalty and non-returning customers. Have you considered enlisting a customer loyalty program or providing discounts on shipping or products for returning customers?
It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver as far as service is concerned (we publish very conservative delivery estimates, daily shipping cut-offs, customer support SLA response times and exceed these at every possible opportunity… delight is MUCH better than disappointment and it brings customers back again and again, and retention is increasingly important nowadays. AND saves you getting crucified on the review platforms! – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix.
Happy customers can spread good word of mouth, invite new customers, share your social media posts and will come back to purchase. Check out why customer retention is so important and just how you can improve yours.
When asked about seeking advice, Ant said “we did refer to Veeqo’s refreshingly digestible yet comprehensive ‘Warehouse Management Systems‘ guide! From choosing equipment to helping plan an efficiently layout and implementing a structured picking system. The fundamentals we took away from the guide still serve us well in there a year down the line!”
A warehouse to be proud of in our eyes – Just look how well thought-out their layout is:
You may not need warehouse advice just yet, perhaps you need something in place to keep your systems simple whilst you get on your feet.
“Knowing a daily, weekly or yearly (hopefully positive!!) profit margin can amazingly quickly and conveniently be called up in Veeqo’s nifty sales reports allows me to sleep at night” – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix.
Improve your offering
In order to stand out from the crowd you need strong branding, preferably creative but, most of all, consistent. Consistency is absolutely essential to show off your brand as a solid concept via socials, websites and any adverts you may have.
“It doesn’t matter how good your prices, slick your website or targeted your advertising, if your offering is generic and uncharismatic, ultimately, it’s forgettable, and that’s retail death in these uber-competitive times for digital commerce” – Ant @ Protein Pick & Mix.
To improve your offering, in customers eyes you need to focus on beating competition, perhaps offering bundles and making quicker shipments in turn creating happier customers. Beating competition can be done by offering better prices, discounts, better quality or just offering more to customers. This will depend on your field, so as mentioned earlier experiment in the early stages.
Creating back up plans (yes plans, emphasis on the plural) are very important to any survival strategy. You then have a safety new should things go wrong. You know how the saying goes…if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The more you understand your business and the potential future scenarios the better prepared you are to push through the hardships – because there will be hard times ahead. Hopefully now, with our help… You got this ?