Entrepreneurs are risk takers who like to address a problem by finding a solution to it and turning that into a business model. While handling a new business venture can be consuming in terms of resources and time, it is also important to find new business opportunities which extend outreach, increase revenues and add products/services to one’s portfolio. There are multiple questions needed to be addressed when trying to explore business opportunities, like identifying if a product or service needs fine tuning or identifying new markets.
Let us have a look at some simple steps which can be employed to identify new opportunities.
Focus and fine tune your core product
Any startup in the market has a product or a service which they offer to address a problem, need or a want. It is important to understand that competing with the ‘big players’ should not be the end goal. Rather, focus on the unique service or characteristic of your offering. Be on the lookout for any improvements which can make your product or service easier to use and more affordable. An example would be businesses which rely on technology and mobile platforms. They are always launching timely updates for their apps by constantly adding new features and improving the users’ experience. WhatsApp, which initially began just as a texting app, fine tuned their product and added additional services like end to end encryption, conference video calling and payment services.
Identify a problem and see how your startup fits in the scenario
While there are many ideas which may seem lucrative enough if they are transformed into business plans, that is not always the case. A product or service should be able to fit in a market where it addresses a specific concern. Amazon saw the need for a platform where it could connect retailers and end customers and came up with their product. Uber saw the need for a platform where they could connect taxis and their customers. Paytm addressed the need for an online payment platform. All such successful startups created products which addressed unmet market needs.
Listen to your customers
At the end of the day, a startup can survive if the customer finds an incentive to use its products or services. It is important to keep an ear to the ground to listen to customer feedback. Minor issues tend to go overlooked, which may later end up blowing back on you. Many companies realised the importance of listening to feedback. An interesting example here is Parle. Parle discontinued one of their famous products ‘Rola Cola.’ A Twitter user posted about his wish on the platform for Rola Cola to be reintroduced in the market. The tweet found support from other users who shared the same sentiment. Parle then replied if the post gets 10,000 retweets, they would bring back the product. The tweet easily breached the mark and Parle G began the production of Rola Cola once again. It is almost a norm now for companies to engage their audience on digital media and social media platforms. Surveys, Q&As and feedbacks are some simple ways to know what a customer needs.
Monitor your competitors
Being on the lookout for what a competitor is doing with a product can give valuable business insights into creating a new product or simply modifying an existing one to cater to the market needs and demands. An interesting example here would be the food delivery startup Swiggy and the hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo. Dunzo made inroads by addressing any service issue or delivery issue by having it all on one platform. Even if a listing (a store) is not available on their app, they still offer the customer the option of selecting a specific shop and product and they would deliver it under the option ‘Any store in the city.’ A delivery executive will be assigned, who acts as a proxy for you and makes the purchase for you. On the other hand, Swiggy only delivered food from the restaurants listed out on its app. Swiggy quickly realised they had the required logistical infrastructure in place and came up with their own hyperlocal delivery version called Swiggy Stores, which does everything Dunzo does.
Market your company at events and showcase platforms
Identify events in the industry which align with your product or service and ensure your business gains outreach. Interacting with similar minded people and discussing with subject matter experts will provide an insight to explore new business ideas, ventures and collaborations with other businesses. For example, if your product or business falls under a finance technology industry in India, there is the FinTech India Expo. The Expo offers an opportunity to understand the latest trends, practices and innovations in the industry. There is also a panel headed by subject matter experts who can address queries regarding the concerned products or services. It also offers a platform to network and exchange ideas with like minded individuals and startups.
While there is no textbook or roadmap for identifying new business opportunities, businesses need to constantly experiment to find the right fit for their products or services. However, following these simple steps could help in identifying new business opportunities.
Read about how to scale up your startup here: How to Scale Up After Starting Up
4 Tips For A Business To Increase Sales
Any business, once established, needs to generate revenue in order to sustain itself. Sales are the major revenue generating stream for any business. In the current business landscape, it is highly imperative to have stable sales revenue. A good product will automatically generate sales if it has a target audience who like what they are purchasing. However, any product or service always has scope for improvement and generating more sales.
Let us have a look at some tips for a business to increase sales.
1. Invest in a good sales team
Any business needs a sales team which can look after pitching the product or service to the target demographic. Providing resources and training to the sales team will go a long way in generating a healthy sales forecast. Elevator pitches, quarterly audits and target based competition will generate a healthy atmosphere and a zeal to perform. Leading software as a service (SaaS) company Salesforce currently has one of the best sales teams in the world and they invest a lot on them by offering them training at an event called ‘Dreamforce.’ The sales team is trained by leading industry experts and Salesforce executives.
2. Generate positive reviews
A business needs constant feedback to know the needs and wants of the customer in order to optimise its offering to suit their audience. One of the easiest ways to do it is to go online and register on a reviewing site relevant to the industry in which the business is. Constant feedback, especially positive feedback, is important as it increases the likelihood of generating more traffic and demand for your product/service. Google is one of the best platforms to get reviews as it is used by almost everyone. For example, a business which is in the food service space can focus on reviews on platforms like Zomato or Yelp.
3. Create packages or bundles
Creating packages or bundles of products or services clubbed together is a good way to maximize sales. Clubbing together products or services which deal with the same issue or action increases the convenience and seem more useful to customers, who may believe they are getting more value out of a purchase. E commerce giant Amazon offers suggestions based on user purchases, which show similar products that will be useful with a purchase. For example, if a customer purchases a mobile phone, Amazon’s suggestions may include a screen guard and a mobile phone case.
4. Partner with other businesses
A business can explore the possibility of partnering with another business if investing in research, development and infrastructure is expensive. Partnering up with a business can create unique products which need less development time and investment because existing businesses have the necessary infrastructure in place and only need collaboration. Microsoft is a good example in this instance. Microsoft was notorious for its reputation of not offering its products on Apple’s Linux platforms because Apple is a competitor. However, Satya Nadella, when he was made CEO, decided Microsoft would partner with Apple and release a Linux compatible Microsoft Office suite for the iPad, the iMac, the iPhone and the MacBook. This move drastically increased the sales of Microsoft.
A business can adopt these tips to come up with a sales plan which creates a revenue stream. While these do not guarantee immediate results, they can provide an organic growth in sales traffic. A good product should be able to elicit a definite answer from the audience and these tips should always go along with a call to action for the customer.
Read more about how to increase business opportunities here: Five Steps Entrepreneurs Can Follow To Identify New Business Opportunities
How To Start A Business With Little Capital
Starting a business may seem like a great idea to pursue a passion, but it has its share of problems. It is easy to worry about from where to bring in the investment for it, what kind of business should it be, whether it will give a return on investment and whether it will become sustainable and provide a stable source of income. While these questions and the uncertainty can act as deterrents to begin a business, you can still start a business with a little bit of planning.
Let us look at some tips about how to begin a business with little or no investment.
1. Keep working at your present job
If an individual who wishes to begin a business already has a stable job, it is a little easier to begin investing resources into a business or an idea. Having a job acts as a cushion on which you can fall back if things don’t go as planned. The job also acts as a source for initial startup capital by creating savings on which you can bank. You will, however, have to put in those extra hours to work on the business. Mailchimp is a popular email marketing platform which was created by founder Ben Chestnut when he was running a design consulting business.
2. Create a business plan
Once sufficient savings are pooled up, it is important to work on your business plan. Creating a list of variable and dynamic parameters which may affect the business, analysing the market for a demand, creating a business plan with minimal investment and operational costs and creating value for the product is important.
3. Start simple and build a revenue stream
One of the easiest ways to begin a business with little capital is most often by creating a service based model. Service based models are easy to implement as revenue can be generated after providing a service. There are many service based industries like washing and cleaning, housekeeping and delivery services, to name a few. If a product based model is your passion, consider starting off with services and use the revenue to build a product. For example, cooking or baking is the easiest way to generate revenue. Food will always see sales and the initial market demographic can be acquaintances, family and colleagues.
4. Consider a small loan or an incubator
Once a working model is established with revenue forecasts, consider taking a small business loan which will provide a capital pool that can be used to invest in scaling up and building infrastructure. Incubators are a great way to grow as well. An incubator acts as a source of funding for businesses if they have good business models. Many well known business schools act as incubators. The famous startup WeWork also began as an incubator platform for startups and they have branches all over the world now.
Crowdfunding is a very powerful tool to generate capital for your product or business idea. A lot of businesses kicked off using crowdfunding and it is not just limited to businesses. Crowdfunding can be used for any number of reasons like making a movie, starting a restaurant or funding travel. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset which was crowdfunded by multiple backers on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform. Oculus was later acquired by Facebook for over $ 2 billion.
Starting a business does not have to be a complicated exercise and it can begin by following these tips if there is the problem of initial capital . There is no shortcut to success, but these simple steps can help in achieving the goal of starting a business.
Read more about how to start up here: A Simple Guide To Starting A Business
Four Tips For Effective Communication
In an ever changing workplace environment which is increasingly becoming fast paced due to the ease of communication tools present and the adaptation of technology to make jobs easier, soft skills play a major role in adding value to an individual. Soft skills are a combination of people skills, communication, character traits, social and emotional intelligence.
Communication skills are important to effectively communicate with peers or the hierarchy and play a major role in upskilling an individual.
Here are four tips to communicate effectively:
1. Be a listener
Listening during communication is one of the most underrated traits which often tends to get overlooked. Recruiters and managers are always on the lookout for individuals who not only speak but are also able to sit back and listen to alternative arguments, views and perspectives. Listening gives the advantage of taking in information and verifying if it is factually correct or whether there is strength to the opposite argument. Not interrupting a speaker, adding comments like ‘yes’ and nodding your head will improve your position as an engaged listener. Waiting for another person to finish speaking also implies a respectful overtone.
2. Control your emotions
Emotions play a major role in how an individual communicates. It is no secret humans give in to emotions and let them affect how they communicate or speak. Emotions interfere with effective communication if the topic is sensitive, often leading to giving biased arguments and an inability to look beyond one’s outlook. Giving into emotions will lead to situations of regret. Therefore, it is important to keep your emotions in check and not let bias seep into a conversation. Anand Mahindra is one of India’s famous business personalities and is known for not losing his cool and so are Ratan Tata and Azim Premji. They never let their emotions get the best of them, irrespective of the situation in which they are.
3. Be aware of the non verbal signs
Non verbal signs are gestures an individual makes while speaking or listening. They could be facial expressions, body movements, eye contact, posture and voice tonality. A good communicator effectively employs these in a conversation. These gestures play a good role in conveying a message when words are not able to express it. Silence can also be employed to convey information and is often overlooked. Non verbal communication is often times more impactful than verbal communication. All good leaders use a lot of hand gestures when speaking. Bill Gates, Sundar Pichai and Barack Obama are some of the leaders who employ hand gestures to convey intent.
4. Be clear about what you want to convey
Collecting your thoughts and making a note of what you want to convey before actually communicating can help a great deal in expressing an idea, message or intent clearly. It is easy to get pulled into your emotions or get wrapped up in the argument. Being able to share thoughts and ideas in a genuine manner can improve the chances of the message being delivered correctly. Being assertive and exhibiting firm beliefs strengthens the nature of the conversation. Steve Jobs’ iPhone release presentation is one of the best examples of conveying a message precisely and is a great example to this day. The iPhone was a revolutionary product at the time of its release because it aimed to do what no one else had done before. It redefined a smart phone by merging both software and hardware to work seamlessly. However, just having a great product is not enough as the audience must believe in the product to purchase it. Steve Jobs did just that—he convinced the audience to buy the iPhone, a new product, because he conveyed the information about the iPhone’s innovations precisely and clearly.
Communication is a great skill to cultivate during a leadership journey and can be complex. Always be on the lookout for signs, gestures and verbal cues. Remember to think and formulate ideas before beginning to converse. These tips may not make you a good leader or a great team member overnight, but they can help you communicate effectively so your ideas or thoughts stick with your audience.
Read about how to build a strong work ethic here: 5 Tips to Build A Strong Work Ethic
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