While every business has its own journey to take, the ones that have survived time and market changes all share some key elements, or pillars if you will. These pillars collectively stand as a foundation for when challenges arise, whether it's an economic dip that forces consumers to cash crunch or a problem with your distributor that leads to delays in orders and customer loss. Here are those five pillars that you should work towards building for your business.
Companies, like Coca Cola and Ford, have survived decades of ups and downs partially because everyone knows and trusts them. There are several beverage brands today that share the same taste as a can of coke, but consumers still choose the original because it's familiar. Building a reputable brand isn't rocket science either. Maintain good public relations and earn positive media exposure and time will do the rest. Strive to be helpful to your customers. Answer questions they may have and establish your brand not just as a business that sells a product/service, but also as an expert in your respective field. If someone needs to know something about a topic, you should be the go-to resource for it.
People are the most important resource of any business. Sure, running out of money may prove fatal to any enterprise, but not having the right people on board will always result in failure. Figure out who your co-founder or right-hand person is early on. This person will help alleviate the stress and pressure of day-to-day operations as well as help you see the bigger picture for your company. Due to capital constraints, you should also limit your hires to essential employees only. If your business can survive without an executive assistant or planner for the first few months after inception, then skip it. You'll want to hire engineers for your database and back-end stuff as well as a logo maker for your brand presence. You'll also need a customer service rep to handle customer-facing issues as well as a marketing expert to grow your brand.
Every business needs capital to run smoothly. Money is the grease that keeps all cogs of your business functioning properly. If you run out of money, you'll lose business partners, employees, inventory, and what awaits is a grim nosedive into bankruptcy. Aside from startup capital to buy your first set of equipment and inventory and to pay off licenses and permits, you'll also need to keep a financial moat around your business to protect it from unforeseen problems, such as a lawsuit filed against your company.
Having an advantage over your competitors will help you thrive for the long run. Define what makes your company unique and capitalize on it. This differentiator can be anything, such as pricing, customer service, physical location of store/s, and even the story behind why or how you started the company. If you can't find a differentiator, make one. Customers will always remember that one brand that is more affordable than the rest or that gave them a smooth customer service experience.
Having a long-term plan is another fundamental component of a successful business. You'll want to have a clear vision of where your business is heading in the next five to ten years and how to get there. When coming up with a business plan, have an executive summary, a description of your business, market data, sales and marketing tactics, and financial projections.
A business founded on these five pillars can survive and even thrive in different market cycles and internal situations. Of course, these five pillars must be built by the right entrepreneur as well. Don't forget to work on your own interpersonal pillars for a sound mind and body. After all, a business is only as good as the people driving it from behind.
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