As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wane, many people — especially women who may have been displaced during the shut-down — are considering taking the entrepreneurial plunge. As the economy begins gearing up for recovery, it’s an excellent time to launch a business.
Sage Business Consulting provides the guidance to help you build a business plan, establish your brand and grow your customer base over time. To help you get started on the right foot as you take your first steps toward business ownership, we’ve put together the following advice on launching a business in the current climate.
Take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities.
While the pandemic was devastating to many businesses, recovery efforts have yielded historically low interest rates, as well as special types of grants and funding for women-owned businesses. Be sure to explore the U.S. Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) Office of Women’s Business Ownership, the 8(a) Business Development program, and the Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting program. These federal groups provide valuable resources to help female entrepreneurs secure the financing and compete in the marketplace. There are also many other industry- and foundation-based grants that you may be able to take advantage of, so keep an eye on sites like grantsforwomen.org to see what other programs you may qualify for.
In addition to securing capital, the post-pandemic landscape has created other opportunities to reduce the costs associated with launching your business. Operations that were forced into closure in recent months may be liquidating inventory, selling real estate, and getting rid of fixtures and equipment, enabling you to purchase some of these items at rock-bottom prices. This helps former business owners liquidate assets to rebound and rebuild faster with new ventures, while helping you establish your business more rapidly.
Choose your business wisely.
You have many options when it comes to the type of business you want to run. You may opt to build on your current profession, monetize a hobby, invest in a franchise, or look to the local market to find gaps to fill. The important thing is to conduct your research and honestly assess your skill sets and knowledge. You’ll want to select something you have knowledge about and enjoy, as well as something that will be profitable and have longevity. Consider the current competition as well as the potential for disruption, especially as technology continues to play a more significant role in companies, large and small. While the pandemic has taught us all businesses have some form of vulnerability, a smart start-up must be built on solid research and realistic and informed expectations.
Get yourself organized.
In addition to conducting market research, hiring staff, and securing a location, you’ll also need to create a detailed business and marketing plan to help you stay focused, and secure funding from investors. These guidelines can help you write a thorough, effective business plan. Sage Business Consulting also provides the experience and expertise to guide you through this process step by step.
As you begin to organize the day-to-day operations of your business, an effective suite of software tools will make a word of difference. While programs like QuickBooks can help you manage costs and make informed financial decisions, you’ll also need to consider tools for collaboration, communication, marketing and more. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of free and paid applications available to help you get started. The faster you can establish best practices with your software stack, the more value they’ll deliver for your business.
Create a promotional strategy.
Developing an effective marketing campaign that reaches your target demographic will be an essential part of your company’s success. A dynamic website, creative messaging, and a robust social media campaign will help ensure you reach potential customers early and open. But before you begin building these strategies, it’s important to establish an effective brand foundation that will set you apart from the crowd. This includes brand colors, messaging guidelines, a memorable logo, taglines and more. The key is to focus on quality over quantity — it doesn’t take a massive investment to make an impact. Sage Business Consulting provides comprehensive services to help you build a strong brand package from day one.
Focus on customer service.
In today’s customer-obsessed business landscape, putting a serious focus on delivering high-quality customer experiences is a business imperative. This means pricing yourself competitively but fairly, keeping customer service at the forefront of operational planning, and staying connected to changing customer needs. Regular outreach via email or social media can help consumers feel important, as can reward programs, above-and-beyond efforts, and even special perks, like events and product sneak-peeks. Ask for regular feedback and take comments and suggestions under advisement. Your goal should be to establish long-term relationships with customers rather than single-sale interactions.
As the world begins to reopen to a “new normal” there will be many opportunities for new business owners, particularly female entrepreneurs, to take advantage of the improving economic landscape. Practice due diligence, build on your personal and professional expertise, and step up to launch your dream operation.
With more than 25 years of experience, Sage Business Consulting can help you launch your small business faster and with less frustration. Learn more about our services and see how we can give you a competitive advantage.