Startup businesses should consider that a successful business marketing plan has little to do with a gut feeling or a hunch; it is rather based on sound market research. A competitive advantage will be given to any small business that realizes this. This is not however, where entrepreneurs focus there attentions. Even though well done market research is crucial for understanding the competition, most entrepreneur ideas center on entrepreneur business opportunities and creating successful products. If an entrepreneur spends time understanding competition on all levels: product competition, segment competition, demand competition, technology competition and future competition, entrepreneurs would be well equipped to implement competition strategies will be highly effective.
Where should one start?
The most important decisions a small business needs to take into consideration right off the bat when making a competitive business plan is what needs to be done and then how the business’ time, energy and money will be spent doing the tasks that need to be done. Time, energy and money are the only things that any business can spend so proper planning right at the beginning will assure the best and highest uses of these resources.
So step one is for business owners to do their market research (to determine what needs to be done). Step two is to determine how to get it done in a timely fashion and how to get it done right.
Solo entrepreneurs who have the do it yourself (DIY) mentally must realize that the need to allocate these resources applies to them as well. Consider this: It may not be in the best interest of the business to take a significant amount of time gaining expertise; whether that is in getting the necessary knowledge for doing market research or for professional web development solutions as examples. This is true especially when there is a limited budget. The cost of staying in the learning/development stage will ultimately take its toll. This will be seen when a business loses out on potential revenue that would have been gained if development had been ramped up more quickly. Not to mention: delaying will allow the competition to get a lead.
Market research to determine what business the needs are and then deciding how to allocate time, energy and money correctly is so crucial. The reality is that it is also so often ineffectively done. Ultimately it will determine whether entrepreneurship successfully launching an idea will ever even happen.
Why then do entrepreneurs fail to do these two steps? Simple and trite as it may seem, it is nevertheless true. Most entrepreneurs do not know what they do not know. They do not know how to research their market. They do not know how to create an effective business plan, based on their time, energy and money, which will get them to where they want to go. They don’t know how to get the market research data that they need to create a competitive marketing strategy. They don’t know about the best practices for a real online marketing strategy and how it will create a powerful web identity.
The following three reasons are typical ways that entrepreneurs respond when they do not know.
The first response is the hit or miss approach of just taking action. The success of this will depend on how adroit a business owner is at developing the necessary skills and making the adjustments on the fly. This approach can lead to a lot of wasted resources which will be spent because of lack of knowledge. It is not cost effective.
A second type of response is to expect to learn every skill that is needed to be successful before moving ahead. This happens for example when a startup online business, for example, tries to reinvent the web development, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing(SEM), social media optimization (SMO), pay per click (PPC) and customer relationship management (CRM) wheels. Reinvention is a time wasting and unwieldy task that is destines to side track the entrpreneur; sometimes indefinitely. An example of this is seen in the case of startup business owners who continue to spend time and money on endless seminars and products that promise to solve all of their problems; except they never get started. These entrepreneurs are more correctly defined as opportunity seekers rather than serious business owners.
The third response is for the entrepreneur to gain a broad education in the business planning processes that will be needed to develop the business. The business owner can determine which levels of expertise already exist and which ones need to be bolstered. This is the entrepreneur who makes an assessment of the highest and best use of time, energy and money. This entrepreneur will be asking questions such as:
– How do I get the market research analysis I need to create and keep a competitive edge?
– Are adequate web development solutions available in house? Do I need a dedicated team or should I hire a professional?
– How do I keep abreast of the rapidly evolving internet marketing landscape? How will I get the specialized skills that are needed to participate in the interactive world of Web 2.0? Measure and analyze results?
– What are best inbound marketing practices?
– How can I find the best ways to extend marketing dollars?
– Will my business be better off with an in house staff or will virtual office management be better?
– Do I need an extensive sales force or can web based CRM software automate a lot of this?
– How can I make the best hiring choices and provide the training that is needed?
Clearly, the questions that must be addressed by a startup business as well as an established one are considerable. This is why the third response is the only one that makes sense.
A successful business owner will wisely decide not to do it all since this is not the highest use of time, energy or money. By keeping educated about current trends and what a successful business needs, the business owner will be in a position to make appropriate decisions. The decision on what should be done in house and what should to be outsourced needs to be made.
Marketing research firms agree that the best business plan for a startup or existing business is to get the help of a marketing partner who already has the new Web 2.0 marketing tools and most importantly knows how to effectively use them. They can help determine what needs to be done and the best ways to get them done. Can a startup business afford this? Today expert outsourced services are highly affordable. The real question is can your business afford not to use them?