Start-Ups: Where Do You Think You Are Going?

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If you’re planning a new start-up, have you worked out the fine details about where you’re going?  If you aren’t sure about your aims, your plans, your target market and your branding strategy, success will be a hard beast to master.

How do you intend to persuade customers to choose your products above all others?  Without a clear plan of action you are in danger of launching a mediocre start-up that is never destined to take the world by storm.

To launch a commercially successful start-up, there are a number of key questions that you should be asking yourself well before the intended launch date.  The answers to each will help you formulate your plans and strategies going forward so that your start-up has every opportunity to be noticed, to flourish and to be lucrative.

What is your mission?

What are your top three goals for your start-up? Do you know where you want to be in five or ten year’s time?  Individuals set themselves goals as something to aim for, for self improvement, to give purpose to their life and to keep them motivated.  Stagnation is the root of dissatisfaction for many people.  But when they realize they can achieve their goals they are spurred on to take up the next challenge.

Your start-up should be no different.  Clarify your goals and your aims over the next five to ten years.  Be realistic but aim high – you will only underachieve if you don’t push yourself.  Then monitor your company’s performance, bask in success when you accomplish a goal and modify your goals so they move with the trends relevant to your industry.

How will you brand your start-up?

Your brand is how you communicate and connect emotionally with your customers.  The brand has to differentiate you from your competitors – a strong brand stands head and shoulders above the rest.  The perception of a brand dictates how successful it will be.

Branding your products is how your company builds awareness and increases customer loyalty.  In today’s world of excessive choices, people choose to buy by brand.  They become diehard fans of certain brands, trust them and seek them out in preference to others.

A branding strategy must be developed for your start-up to achieve success.  It must be endorsed from the top down and its importance must be embraced by every single employee.  It’s essential to work with a professional brand development company who understands how to develop a brand, how to design a brand and how to make your brand talk to your target market.

Who is your target market?

If you haven’t firmly defined your target market you won’t be able to market your products or services successfully.  Take time out to consider who your customers are so you can plan how to get your brand in front of them at every opportunity.  If your target market falls firmly into the under 40’s, you may choose to make social media a pivotal part of your branding strategy.  If your start-up offers holidays for the over 60’s then traditional brochures may be more suitable.

Does it make sense to specialize?

Keeping your brand focused on one area helps make it stronger.  If you are in the travel industry and launch your company with the aim of selling every type of holiday from budget student travel to decadent luxury getaways, you may find your company name only being associated with one area.  The high spenders who want their luxury holiday won’t contact you if they only associate your company with basic student travel.

As a rule of thumb, and particularly when you are launching a start-up, the more focused your product offering, the more chance you will have of dominating the market.  Make it simple for people to associate your brand name with a specific niche in the market.  The more narrow the brand, the more powerful it can become.  Don’t confuse customers by offering everything under the sun – they will fail to remember what your brand offering is all about.

What is your competitive advantage?

Why should customers choose your product instead of those from a competitor?  What do you do better than or different to anyone else?  All markets are awash with me-too’s.  Don’t let that be your start-up.  Find that extra something that will help to sell your product because no other company offers it:  a new twist on an existing product or a customer service department that goes one step further.  By carving out your own niche, you can build on being a leader in the field rather than a follower.

Who is your competition?

Is there an established competitor that you admire?  Identify what they do well and analyze why it works.  By all means take inspiration from it but under no circumstances copy their game plan.  Define your own game plan to ensure your products are perceived as higher quality, more value for money or more exclusive than your nearest competitors’.

What are the trends and challenges affecting your industry?

You need to understand the current climate for your industry so you can be proactive rather than reactive.  If customers are demanding the option to book online or purchase online then make sure you can meet this demand.  Todays technological age is moving swiftly – make sure you keep up with the times and launch your start-up with the right tools that will allow it to reach its full potential.

How will you get the very best from your staff?

If you value your staff and treat them well they will become ambassadors of your start-up.  Their loyalty to the company will shine through in everything they do and they will believe in the company wholeheartedly – automatically promoting your products and services at every opportunity to your customers, their family and friends.  So when you are recruiting for your start-up, employ the best and most enthusiastic staff, and treat them as you would want to be treated – with respect and fairness.

How will you market your products and services?

When you have all the answers to the questions above you can start to define your marketing strategy.  A truly experienced and talented brand development company is far more than a group of enthusiastic graphic designers or a team of website whizzes.  They can hold your hand from the inception of your brand to the finalization of your marketing plan.  They can create your printed materials, design and implement a stunning website, perform effective search engine optimization for the website and can advise on and run marketing campaigns via social media and pay-per-click options.  In truth, the best brand development companies can take you from A to Z to help you climb the ladder of success.

Launching a start-up can feel overwhelming at times but a well defined plan of action will take you one step closer to your dream of being your own boss.  By fully understanding your target market, your products’ attributes, and your competition, your branding and marketing strategy can be developed to ensure that before you know it, you will be exactly where you want to be.