Starting a new business in the current global climate can appear riskier than ever, and certainly is not without its challenges. However, a spate of closings and a shakeup to industries overall has in some ways made the market more accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs.
In this article, we’ll outline six steps that new businesses can take to help them succeed in today’s market, providing real-world examples for inspiration.
An overview of the global entrepreneur market
The global entrepreneur market has experienced remarkable growth in recent years, with several key players emerging across various industries. In the technology industry, dominant players such as Apple and Google remain key market leaders. Apple, for instance, reported a staggering revenue of US$ 365.7 billion in the fiscal year 2021, showcasing its significant market presence and growth trajectory. Similarly, Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., generated a revenue of US$ 182.5 billion in the same year, highlighting its substantial market share and influence.
Meanwhile, in the retail industry, global giants like Walmart, Amazon, and Alibaba have retained substantial portions of the global market. For example, Walmart recorded a revenue of US$ 559.2 billion in the fiscal year 2021, illustrating its formidable market position and consistent growth. Amazon, known for its ecommerce dominance, reported a remarkable revenue of US$ 386 billion in the same year. Finally, Alibaba reported revenue of US$ 109.5 billion in the fiscal year 2021, bolstering its service reach around the world.
It’s worth noting that many of these companies started as small businesses and grew to become the multinational corporations they are today. And while the business landscape remains competitive, success is not guaranteed – some businesses will thrive while others fail to make it off the ground. What many of these companies have in common is that they cornered a niche in the market, formulated a clear, future-looking plan, and adapted as conditions required.
Challenges new businesses face in a post-COVID world
The post-COVID world presents numerous challenges for new businesses, as the economic landscape has shifted dramatically. Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, there are also newfound opportunities for innovation and growth. However, entrepreneurs must navigate through several key obstacles in this evolving environment, including heightened competition, disrupted supply chains, changing consumer behavior, and securing funding amidst an uncertain economic climate.
Many businesses have been forced to pivot their operations, leading to an increase in competition in many industries. In the restaurant industry, for example, the rise of delivery and takeout services has led to a surge in competition, with a 44% increase in restaurant closures in the United States between March and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to data from Yelp. This has made it even more challenging for new restaurants to establish themselves and attract customers.
Similarly, in the retail industry, many brick-and-mortar stores had to close or reduce their hours. But on the flip side, many online retailers have experienced a surge in demand, with online sales in the United States growing by 42% year-over-year in 2020, according to data from Adobe Analytics. This shows that while the economic environment has certainly shifted, it remains fertile for new ideas and business angles.
In addition, disrupted supply chains pose a significant challenge for new businesses. The pandemic’s global impact has disrupted manufacturing, transportation, and logistics networks, leading to delays and shortages. As a result, new businesses may encounter difficulties in sourcing raw materials, manufacturing products, or delivering services, adding complexity to their operations.
Changing consumer behavior has also become a crucial consideration for new businesses. The pandemic has fundamentally altered how people shop, work, and interact. Entrepreneurs must understand and adapt to shifting consumer preferences, such as an increased focus on ecommerce, contactless transactions, and remote work. Failure to align with evolving consumer needs can hinder the growth and sustainability of new ventures.
Finally, securing funding is another challenge faced by new businesses in the post-COVID world, with the uncertain economic climate making investors more cautious, resulting in tighter lending criteria and reduced capital availability. Entrepreneurs may encounter difficulties in accessing traditional funding sources, such as bank loans or venture capital. Alternative funding options, such as crowdfunding or government support programs, have become crucial avenues for new businesses seeking financial resources.
6 steps to help new businesses succeed
To have a higher chance of success, new businesses must take deliberate steps to establish themselves and differentiate their goods and services from those already present in the market. To do this, it’s essential to have a solid foundation in place before you hit the ground running. Here are six things you can do to put your business on level footing out of the gate:
Create a solid business plan
Your business plan should outline the business’s strategic goals, target market, competition, and financial projections. By clearly defining these areas, you can gain a better understanding of your business’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to achieve your goals. In addition, having a detailed business plan can help secure funding from investors, lenders, or even government grants.
A comprehensive plan will also help ensure financial stability and profitability in the long term. It provides a roadmap for your business, and by tracking progress against the plan, you can identify areas where you need to make adjustments and remain focused on your goals.
Real-world example: When Tushar Roy started Fanatics, an online sports merchandise retailer, he created a business plan that included a detailed analysis of the sports merchandise market, product cost-effectiveness, a list of potential suppliers, and a marketing strategy to reach sports fans. The plan helped him secure funding and grow the business to become a billion-dollar company.
Build a strong online presence
In today’s digital world, having a strong online presence is just about as important as the rest of your business goals combined. By leveraging market positioning, SEO optimization, social media channels, and the use of influencers, businesses can reach a wider audience and increase their online visibility.
A well-executed online marketing strategy can also help you to increase sales revenue, improve market penetration, and drive growth rates through innovative and cost-effective marketing techniques. By tracking website traffic, engagement, and conversion rates, you should be able to identify areas of improvement and adjust your online marketing strategies accordingly.
Real-world example: Allbirds, a UK-based sustainable footwear company, built a strong online presence by creating a user-friendly website that showcases their eco-friendly products and shares their brand story. They also use social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter to connect with potential customers and promote their products.
Establish a strong brand identity
Establishing a strong brand identity goes hand in hand with building your online presence. A recognizable and memorable brand should reflect your company’s unique value proposition, target audience, and company values, helping to improve brand recognition, customer loyalty, and sales revenue.
A strong brand identity also helps differentiate your business from competitors, and it can help create an emotional connection with customers. By consistently communicating the brand’s messaging and visual identity across all channels, businesses can establish trust and credibility with their target audience. This can help drive brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately, contribute to the long-term financial stability of the business.
Real-world example: The online eyewear company Warby Parker established a strong brand identity with their distinctive logo, retro-inspired glasses, and commitment to social responsibility. They have built a loyal customer base by offering high-quality products and a unique brand experience, helping to significantly boost return on investment.
Identify and target your ideal customer
Identifying your target audience takes you halfway to creating a successful marketing strategy. By understanding your customer’s needs, preferences, and pain points, you can tailor your business’ marketing messages and strategies to effectively reach and engage your target audience.
A targeted marketing strategy helps businesses build brand recognition, increase market share, and achieve a competitive advantage. A well-executed marketing strategy can boost sales revenue, enhance market penetration, and drive growth rates through innovative and cost-effective marketing techniques. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and loyalty, you can differentiate your business from competitors and achieve long-term financial stability.
Real-world example: The online fitness technology behemoth Peloton succeeded by perfectly identifying their ideal customer as a busy professional who wants to fit exercise into their schedule. They tailored their products and marketing efforts to this demographic and sold thousands of their online-enabled bikes over the course of the pandemic as a result.
Build a support network
Starting a new business can be lonely, but you certainly shouldn’t shy away from building a network of support. By seeking guidance and advice from experienced mentors, advisors, and industry peers, you can gain valuable insights, avoid common pitfalls, and accelerate your growth. A supportive network can also provide emotional and psychological support during tougher times.
Networking opportunities can be found through business associations, industry events, and online communities. By building strong relationships with mentors and advisors, you can leverage your expertise and connections to grow your business and, therefore, increase your chances of success.
Real-world example: Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, has built a network of support through partnerships with organizations and governments around the world. They have used this network to promote early childhood education and literacy, and have helped millions of children learn and grow.
Focus on delivering exceptional customer service
Exceptional customer service is a key driver of success for any business, but it is especially important for new businesses. By prioritizing empathy, responsiveness, and problem-solving, you can create a positive customer experience that builds loyalty, trust, reputation, and even attract more people to join your loyalty programs. This will help you increase customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals, which are essential for long-term growth.
Exceptional customer service can be delivered through a variety of channels, including phone, email, and social media. By being responsive to customer needs and concerns, you can create a culture of customer-centricity that can set your business apart from competitors. Ultimately, businesses that prioritize exceptional customer service are more likely to achieve financial stability, profitability, long-term success, and increased productivity as they’ll spend less time dealing with complaints.
Real-world example: Singapore Airlines is known for its exceptional customer service, offering personalized attention to each passenger and striving to exceed their expectations. They have won numerous awards for their service, and have become a top choice for travelers around the world.
The future of entrepreneurial businesses looks promising, with more and more people seeking to start their own businesses. However, success in today’s market requires deliberate effort and strategic planning. The six steps outlined in this article should provide a solid foundation for setting yourself up for success. Just remember, perseverance is key, as is building a supportive team whose vision aligns with your own. Finally, if you’re stuck for ideas as to what products or services you might want to sell, a quick way to stimulate ideas is to browse products trending on Alibaba.com. And with that, good luck with your new and exciting endeavor!