How to Start a Successful Small Business in 2018

Operating a small business is no easy task. It will involve long hours, and unforeseen challenges. But if you are able to successfully run a small business, you’ll be able to experience a remarkable feeling, knowing that you created a thriving organization.

Entrepreneurism is at the heart of the American spirit, and yet few Americans actually take the plunge and launch their own business. While it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of small business owners in the US, one study cited in Politifact estimates that only 13 percent of working Americans own a business.

This article will help the other 87 percent of Americans to successfully start a small business in 2018. Once you’ve done your research, and have found a great business idea, use the tips herein to bring that idea to life.

Get as close to your target audience as possible

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb is found of recounting an early conversation he had with YCombinator founder, Paul Graham. Graham told Chesky, “it’s better to have 100 people love you than a million people that sort of like you.”

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So how do you create a product or service that 100 people will truly love?

The first step is getting as close to the customer as possible. Only by understanding the customer’s wants, needs, and frustrations can you begin formulating an offering that will cause customers to evangelize your business.

Over 95 percent of small businesses will fail in the first ten years. The reason for this will vary greatly from one business to the next, but a common cause of failure is an inability to attract loyal customers.

By thinking of the customer from the start, it will be easier to develop a business model that serves the customer well. Take Angee as an example. This startup developed a new home security system designed to work seamlessly in daily life. No need to hire a professional to install complicated products; instead, customers get peace of mind after a simple installation.

In order to bring employees closer the customer, creating one or more customer personas can be an effective way of reminder employees to put the customer first. A persona is simply a shorthand way of referring to one type of buyer.

Personas usually have a name, this makes referencing them easier, and include psychographic and demographic information. Organizations like Hubspot, a $3 billion software company, rely on customer personas to ensure that employees are creating products, services, and experiences that are aligned with the wants and needs of the target audience.

An alternative way to get closer to customers (after you speak with them of course) is by creating an ideal customer profile. Customer profiles are different from personas because profiles focus on identifying which customers are best for your business.

Some types of customers will be easier to serve or will purchase more valuable products or services from you than other types of customers. By identifying the ideal customer profile, your organization can think of innovative ways to attract a greater number of your best customer type.

Hire people that are smarter than you and help them work together

Finding top talent is an important component of building a successful organization. Google, a company known for hiring only the most talented individuals, sort through an average of 130 candidates in order to fill one role.

Google isn’t the only organization that sets a high bar when hiring candidates, a common denominator among the world’s best organizations is that they all hire highly talented individuals.

While it may be challenging for smaller organizations to attract the best candidates, hiring mediocre professionals can result in a ripple effect that degrades business performance over time.

For example, if a mediocre employee is tasked with hiring other professionals, it’s likely that the employee will also settle on lesser talented people. On the other hand, top performers will often insist on only hiring other highly talented professionals.

The final stage of the hiring process should involve a background check. Simply paging through social media platforms won’t cut it. As shown in the People You May Know Movie, it’s easy to create a deceptive profile.

Once you’ve successfully hired great employees, it’s time to help them work better together. Implement a productivity tool like Trello, Asana, or Airtable to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

The role of senior management is to ensure that their people work well together and to get out of the way so that talented professionals have the autonomy to innovate.

Conclusion

Starting a small business is no easy task; however, if done well it can be one of the most rewarding professional experiences.

Two important components of launching a successful small business involve getting close to the customer and making smart hires.

Are you thinking of starting a small business in 2018? If so, let us know your business idea in the comments below!

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