Posted: Mon 16th May 2011
This coming weekend,Â Enterprise Nation launches StartUp Saturday in 7 Staples stores across the country. It's a weekly class for anyone looking to start a business and make a living doing what they love. To count us down to launch, we're posting a new tip for every day of the week. Monday: Niche is Nice When coming up with your business idea, bear in mind that 'niche' businesses are often the best kind of businesses. What I mean by this is: come up with a product or service that meets the needs of a very well-defined audience. For example, set up as a translator focused on Spanish translation and helping UK companies break into Spanish speaking markets; or sell shoes specifically to people with big feet. There are two key benefits to having a niche business:
You keep marketing costs low, as your audience is well defined; you know where your audience are and understand the kind of marketing messages to which they will respond.
Customer loyalty remains high, as you become the expert in your field or the only provider of certain products; customers will want to stay with you and benefit from the specialist product or service you offer.
Attend StartUp Saturday to define and refine your niche business! Tuesday: Start on a budget You probably already have much of what you need to get started in business, i.e. a computer and a mobile phone - so you might not need to buy much more equipment (depending on your business). Here are some tips for keeping costs low:
Start the business from home: Why take on the cost of a second office when the spare room, attic or garden shed will do just as well? Think of the money you'll save: no premises, no commute, no overpriced sandwiches at lunchtime"¦!
Embrace social media: Make the most of free or low-cost technology tools to raise your profile and make sales.
Beg, borrow and barter! When starting out, access all the resources you can. Do deals, call in favours and partner with others who will benefit from access to your audience.
Work 5 to 9: You can plan the business, register the business and indeed continue to run the business successfully by 'Working 5 to 9' - this is the term I apply to the five-million-plus people who are holding down a day job and building a business at night and weekends. It's a sensible way to start and grow. You give yourself the time to build confidence and cash flow in the business, and can keep putting money aside until you're ready to go full-time.
Attend StartUp Saturday to source more tips on doing business on a budget! Wednesday: Attract traffic to your site One way to increase your website's ranking in search engine results is to link to other websites and vice versa, but think quality here as opposed to quantity. Websites offering the best 'link juice' are trusted domains, such as news sites, and very popular sites. You could post comments on such sites and blogs and include a link back to your site. Also try these handy hints:
Approach sites complementary to your own and suggest reciprocal links.
Ensure that your website link is included in all your social media profiles.
Register with the major search engines
Attend StartUp Saturday to find out how to build a home on the web and turn browsers into buyers! Thursday: Make your first sale Achieve a first sale - and many more - by following these steps:
Make a list (check it twice): Draw on your existing resources, grab your address book and circle the friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances you think might be interested in your product or service. Add to the list with details of local people and businesses, too.
Pitch up: Write to the people on your list and announce your new business venture. Consider this an opportunity to make your pitch, but don't be too pushy. And remember to address each recipient personally. No one likes a group email!
Follow up: Follow up in a few days time, either with another email or, better still, a phone call. Take some soundings as to the success of your pitch and react accordingly. If the potential customer or client sounds keen, go for it! Arrange to meet him or her to show your product or explain more about your service.
Meet up: Arrange a time and place to meet that's convenient for your potential customer or client. Be professional, but also likeable. They're equally important characteristics when making a sale. If the customer agrees the deal, bring the meeting to a fairly speedy end. Your job is done - for now. It's time to head home and deliver on the promise you made with your first customer.
Make some noise: Once you've made your first sale - shout about it! If your new customer or client agrees, include them in a press release or write about them on your website or blog, so other potential customers or clients can see that you're well and truly in business!
Attend StartUp Saturday to perfect your sales pitch! Friday: Write a press release Writing a press release costs nothing but your time, yet it can generate thousands of pounds worth of publicity.
If you're emailing a press release to journalists, write the text in the body of the email and include it in an attachment, too.
Your press release should have an attention-grabbing headline, the main facts in the first sentence and evidence and quotes from as high-profile people and companies as possible in the main body of the text.
Include great quality images wherever you can to lift the piece and put a face to the brand (but don't make the email file size huge!).
If you don't get a response, follow up! Attend StartUp Saturday to discover the secrets to marketing success! If you want to turn a passion, hobby or skill into a way of making a living, or if you just want to brush up on your business skills, book a StartUp Saturday class today. It's Â£100 for a course of 12 classes (and that includes a free copy of the StartUp Saturday Workbook), or pop in to a single class and pay just Â£10. The full schedule of topics is available on the StartUp Saturday website, along with a listing of the 7 launch stores. Look forward to seeing you at Start Up Saturday! - Emma Jones Photo credit: YanivG