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Key ingredients for a successful start-up

Keep it simple. If there is an overarching theme for many successful businesses is that they have kept it simple. They have kept each aspect of their business simple.

And while no two businesses or entrepreneurs are identical, there are undoubtedly some overlapping principles that influence the successful launch of any brand. It is often an oversight of the basics which results in the failure of innumerable small businesses in South Africa. In fact, according to recent reports, 70% of small businesses in South Africa fail with the first two years of operation.

With this in mind, it’s worthwhile to explore five key principles to maximise your chances of starting a successful business.   

1. Understand your customer

Continuous learning and improvement is a fundamental Kaizen principle popularised by its phenomenal success with the Toyota production system. One critical facet includes managing key relationships with suppliers, staff and of course your customers. All are vital, but the latter represents the lifeblood of your revenue stream. Ensure you understand your customers’ dynamic and often evolving needs. Remain adaptive to relevant trends and be sensitive to the prevailing benefits that your niche market seeks when interacting with your business.

2. Offer a product or service that is distinguished                          

While yours may not necessarily be a brand-new service or product you must differentiate your offering, particularly from your direct competitors. Ultimately, the passion, energy, service delivery, and quality associated with your enterprise must enable you to capture and retain your primary target market. Your aim is to build a sustainable and credible business model.

3. Develop your brand image

Never underestimate the power of effective branding. A professionally-designed logo, business card, website, and portfolio should form an integral part of your basic marketing strategy. A thought-provoking logo can become an iconic symbol that captures the attention of your prospects and entices them to investigate further into the different dimensions of your product or service.

4. Focus on your core competencies

Understanding your key skills and strengths while ensuring that you continually excel at them is critical. This is directly linked to your productivity, hence your turnover and profitability too. Remaining at the forefront of your industry in this way may require ongoing training as reflected in professional spheres built on continuous professional development (CPD) – such as in the engineering and accounting fields.

By the same token do not hesitate to enlist the services of experts in projects requiring you to bring in specialised partners. Alternatively, some facets of your operation may be critical, but not a core part of your business. Outsourcing a specialist here will be advantageous as opposed to creating a full-time in-house division. A classic example includes financial administration or IT support.

5. Create a harmonious office structure

Fostering a productive and healthy work environment comes with several natural benefits. A workforce that’s built on teamwork, performance incentives, high morale, mutual respect, and a solid customer-oriented focus, will certainly engender a creative and open-minded workspace.   

These five focus areas are linked to sustainable business development and are essential ingredients in the formative years of your business. Investing in a solid foundation at the onset serves as a platform for building a successful and growing business.

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