The rate at which startups fail is almost unbelievable.
Statistics show that 90% of business startups will fail, with 34% failing in their first year.
It’s not difficult to see why so many people are giving up.
Times are tough.
But all is not lost.
You can put a number of strategies in place to maximise your chances of success.
Especially if it’s an online startup, where the failure rate is nowhere near as high as it is for bricks and mortar businesses, for obvious reasons.
To help you get started, here are three ways to establish a sustainable online business.
Find A Niche
During tough economic times, there is a lot of uncertainty. Many businesses close down, while others downsize.
Statistics are giving entrepreneurs every reason to rethink their strategy because the market dynamics are changing.
As the market changes, so should your business. You should redefine your business niche to match the market demand.
This may seem counterintuitive as most startups target the masses, hoping that a huge market base will lead to high returns. But this is rarely the case.
Here is why you really should go after a niche:
- A niche gives your business an edge and allows you to tailor your services and products to match the end-user needs;
- It limits your competition. Instead of competing with all the firms that offer recruitment services, for example, you can reduce the number of competitors by offering recruitment services in the hospitality industry;
- A niche helps you sharpen your skills in a particular industry. This means you can offer your clients more value. People are prone to seek specialised services over general services.
For a business to really have the best chance of success, you have to get it right from the start.
That’s why it is important to have a solid plan when researching the niche that works for you.
So, how exactly do you find a niche? The questions below will help you make an informed choice.
What Are You Interested In?
Many online startups fold because the owner went into business with the sole purpose of making money.
Don’t get me wrong. Every business wants to make money. However, when money is your only motivation, what happens when sales go down and the business can’t sustain itself?
You will quit!
It is important to evaluate your interests and hobbies. What do you read about the most? Which organization do you follow online? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Starting a business in an industry you are interested in helps you stay focused when it gets tough. Quitting won’t be an option.
What Problem Are You Trying To Solve?
Go further and research the problems your potential target audience is experiencing
You can start your research from Quora. Check the questions people are asking around your niche. Research the relevant keywords on Google trends.
This helps you focus your search on what people are already talking about in that industry.
You can also find businesses in your niche and check their frequently asked questions.
The bottom line is this…
…is there a problem that people are looking for solutions to, within your area of interest?
Is The Niche Profitable?
Here you want to ascertain if your interest is profitable or not.
Check sites like Udemy, Coursera, or SlideShare if there are courses in that area.
Go to Amazon, Alibaba, and other e-commerce sites.
Are there products in that niche?
Check the prices of the products or services you want to offer. Take time on Google and find out what bloggers are writing about that niche.
If you are a fitness enthusiast, factors like online personal trainer salary can help assess the profitability of your business venture.
Here, the goal is to find out which of your hobbies are selling online. You don’t want to start a business that is not selling already.
Eliminate all the other options and focus on one or two niches.
With the list of two/three options, you now want to analyze your competitors in the market.
You want to be thorough and identify at least three to five competitors in your niche.
Why? This will give you an overview of the market. You’ll have an in-depth knowledge of their services, products, and what sets them apart.
As a startup, you don’t want to start a business without a clear understanding of the market conditions.
How do you choose the right competitors to analyse?
Start by defining your target audience. Here you want to have a clear description of the buyer persona. What are their demographic and psychographic characteristics?
Next, determine the problem you are trying to solve.
And lastly, identify the product or service you’ll be offering.
With this data in check, you can research companies that are already selling the same services or products to your target audience.
In your analysis, be sure to have a mix of startups and established businesses.
Analyse your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
Specifically, research their products, sales, marketing strategy, target customers, pricing, and marketing channels.
Have a thorough review of their website. The type of content they publish and customer engagement on their site and social media platforms.
This will give you insights into how your product can fit into the market.
You’ll have a clear picture of the target audience and the channels you can use to reach them.
Also, a competitor analysis gives you an overview of the price points.
From this analysis, you’ll come up with similarities and differences among your competitors.
Your job is to filter the information and find the gaps. You can use this information to differentiate yourself and come up with a unique selling point.
Technology is a powerful tool, more so if your startup is purely online.
Start by creating a business website.
A website is your point of contact with your potential clients. It shows that you run a credible business. With a website, you can advertise your products and speak to your audience in their language.
A website is what a physical address is to an offline business.
Therefore, you want anyone who visits to have a positive experience. So, create a website that is responsive, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. You have the option to create one yourself or hire an expert.
With a website set up, there are two things involved: content and social media marketing.
Content marketing is a wide concept.
But as a startup, you don’t want to focus on every aspect of content marketing.
Your concern is to provide information that your target audience considers helpful. Apart from that, you want to produce content that the search engine can find and rank.
You can opt to work with freelancers to create informative, SEO optimized blog posts. Even with that, no one is going to find your content if you don’t market it.
Forums such as LinkedIn, Medium, and Reddit are sites you can explore in marketing and increasing your client reach.
In the preliminary stages, your target is to create awareness. So, optimize your content for the potential audience to find you online.
Invest in tools that help with keyword research and content optimization. Evaluate your website performance and make the necessary adjustments to increase your reach.
Having a dedicated landing page to capture leads will go a great way in your marketing strategy.
Social Media Marketing
There are several social media platforms. But you don’t have to be in all of them.
The determinant factor is where your target audience is.
If you are targeting teenagers and young adults, Instagram and Tiktok are must-have social media accounts.
On the other hand, if your audience is baby boomers, Facebook is a great option.
Social media marketing entails more than creating content and posting. You must create content that resonates with your audience, something that will elicit engagement.
To do this, you must understand your market, post content with a call to action, and use images.
It is a good practice to engage with your audience. Answer questions, like comments, and follow back new members.
Analyze your social media engagement and test the performance of different types of content.
You can also vary the time your post content to see when your audience is most engaged. Lastly, ensure all your posts align with your business’ goals, voice, and brand identity.
Over To You
Take the bull by the horns and establish your online startup using these strategies.
Finding a niche will help you focus your services to a particular group of people.
A competitive analysis summarizes the market structure so you can make an informed choice when introducing your services.
Social media helps you get in touch with your potential customers. It is also a platform to market your business.
When done right, these three strategies can help you grow your business and achieve the success that has eluded many.
Last Updated on May 12, 2021 by andrewtk
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