startup stages

Understanding the 5 Startup Stages

Sep 29, 2017

If you want your startup to succeed, you need to live and breathe your business.

This also means understanding the startup stages. This way, you can respond with the appropriate action to move your business forward. These stages will see you move from idea to startup to maturity. While starting and running a business will always be challenging, looking at each stage of your business will help you understand what you need to overcome.

90% of startups fail. If you’re planning to be in the 10%, here are the 5 startup stages you need to know about.

1. Idea and Development

This is when you’ve got a solid business idea, but your startup isn’t yet officially in existence. Here, you begin to assess the viability of your startup.

That means getting advice and opinions about the potential of your idea from a wide range of sources. That include colleagues, family, friends, business associates, and anyone else in your industry.

You also need to begin thinking about how you’ll finance your launch. This stage is all about considering the feasibility of your idea.

2. Startup

Once you’ve thoroughly tested your business idea and it’s ready to go, you can launch your startup.

This is often the riskiest of the startup stages. Mistakes you make during this stage can impact your business for years in the future.

This stage is all about adaptability. You can expect to spend a lot of time tweaking your services or products based on initial customer feedback.

3. Growth

By the time you get to the growth stage, your business should consistently be generating income and regularly attracting new customers. Your cash flow should improve as you get recurring revenues to cover your ongoing expenses.

You should also be expecting your profits to steadily improve.

One of your biggest challenges will be managing your time. You’ll need to learn to divide your time between many tasks requiring your attention, including:

  • Hiring new employees
  • Dealing with competitors
  • Managing customer service
  • Increasing revenue

This is when you’ll learn the importance of hiring smart people.

This will help you grow quickly and let trustworthy employees take some of the responsibility off of your plate.

4. Expansion

In this phase, running your business will start to become routine. You’ll have staff in place to handle tasks you don’t have the time (or don’t want) to manage. You’ll also have firmly established your business in your industry.

This is when you may want to begin thinking about expanding your range of products and services. Another option is to enter into a new market or geographic location.

5. Maturity

Once you’ve navigated the expansion stage, you can expect to see stable profits each year. This is when you may begin thinking about further expansion, but you’ll need to consider a few questions:

  • Is further growth sustainable for your business?
  • Is there enough opportunity to expand?
  • Are you financially stable enough if the expansion is unsuccessful?
  • Are you emotionally ready for further expansion?

Which of the Startup Stages Are You In?

Which of the above startup stages sounds like your business? Are you effectively navigating your growth, or do you feel like you’re going backward?

Leave a comment below, or check out some of our great business resources.

creative marketing

5 Creative Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Sep 22, 2017

Your small business offers a hot new product or service, and you know you provide amazing customer service. 

But for some reason, your sales numbers just aren’t there.

In all likelihood, you just need a jolt of energy from a creative marketing campaign.

Many small businesses utilize a rule of thumb that allocates 5 to 7 percent of sales towards advertising. However, if sales on a primary product line are slow, this could be problematic.

Marketing can be expensive. There is a real risk that increased revenue could be offset by additional cost.

Don’t panic.

There are many creative marketing campaigns that can be accomplished on a tight budget. Read on to explore 5 great marketing strategies for small businesses.

1. Creative Marketing on a Budget Always Involves Social Media

What better way to reach an infinite number of people on a budget than through social media? Any business in today’s world should use Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media for free marketing.

One great way to draw attention to your social media platform? Offer coupons that are exclusively available on social media.

Social media allows your business to build and develop a rapport with an emerging customer base. You can also announce the launch of new products and services, and obtain priceless feedback from those customers.

Most importantly, you can get very creative with social media. Do this by developing company-specific memes and promoting web content with attention-getting headlines.

2. Videos are Key to Marketing Campaigns

Sometimes, what works for massive corporations can also work for a small business.

Check the websites and social media accounts of major corporations, and you will certainly find the use of videos.

For a small business with a limited budget, consider uploading instructional videos on YouTube. The best part is that you can record and upload a video using a smart phone.

Videos are a great tool for marketing towards millennials, who utilize Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube often.

3. Hold Contests and Hand Out Prizes

Organizing a contest is an old-school method to build up excitement among the customer base. Contests also create intrigue among prospective clients.

While contests have certainly been around for a long time, hosting them on social media can pay additional dividends.

Major companies, like Disney, raffle off park tickets to contestants who like and share their Facebook page. This is a great way to increase your social media following.

4. E-mail Newsletter

Group e-mail is another great method to communicate with the customer base. Collecting e-mail addresses is important because it allows for this mass communication.

Try drawing readers in with a witty subject line or a digital coupon.

5. Reward Existing Customers for Referrals

One theme from this article? What works for major corporations can also work for small business. Companies of any size can benefit from offering rewards to customers who give your business a certain number of referrals.

While it may seem like a risk at first, trust us when we tell you it will pay off ten-fold. 

Thank existing customers with discounts or rewards dollars for helping spread the word about your product or service.

Wrapping Up

When budgets are tight, it’s time to embrace the powerful role that social media can play in launching an affordable marketing campaign.

Other ideas, like referral rewards and contests, have also been proven to be successful.

For any questions about creative marketing strategies, please do not hesitate to contact us.