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Five Steps Entrepreneurs Can Follow To Identify New Business Opportunities

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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.

  1. 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. 

 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

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How To

How To Increase Online Sales Of A Business

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Sales is an important part of any establishment or organisation as it is a major revenue contributor.  A product or service can be sold any number of ways, but mostly it falls under either offline or online sales.  The present consumer is increasingly relying on technology to make their purchases and that is the reason why almost every company or organisation has an online presence on an aggregator platform or via their own in house app.

Online sales can be made consistent by following some simple tips given below.

1.Show customer testimonials

Testimonials are an important way for a new user to get an understanding of the product or service they plan to buy.  Testimonials offer customers a sense of confidence that they are making an informed decision about their purchase. Good testimonials are a way to convert impressions into sales.  Amazon has reviews for every product it offers on its platform and urges customers to leave a review as well after making a purchase.

2. Money back guarantees

Most online sales happen without the customer physically inspecting a product or service before making a purchase.  Therefore, it is a good practice to offer some form of money back guarantee for a sale, in case a customer is not satisfied with their purchase.  Having a money back guarantee is also a form of conveying the strength and quality of the product being sold. Online clothing store Myntra has a return policy where, if a customer is not satisfied with their purchase, they can return it back and the cost of the transaction is reverted back to the customer’s account.

3. Create a call to action

Creating a sense of urgency or a call to action is a very subtle way of guiding a customer to make an online purchase.  This can be achieved in many ways like offering a product bundle for a discounted price or creating a discount sales campaign.  Showcasing high selling products or the most recommended products are some other ways to make the customer make their choice quicker.  Food delivery platform Swiggy has an option called Swiggy Pop which has a curated list of meals for one person at attractive prices. This spares the customer the hassle of browsing through multiple restaurants and making a decision.

4. Streamline the checkout process

The checkout process is the most important part of a purchase.  Items in an online shopping cart are often left in the cart itself as the checkout process is time taking.  Lengthy information fields are most often a hassle and make a customer abandon their product in the cart and instead look for other alternatives elsewhere.  Having a secure payment gateway, which does not interrupt transactions midway, is a must have for the customer to trust the brand.

5. Offer multiple payment options

Have multiple payment options like cash on delivery, netbanking, online wallets, credit and debit cards.  The present day customer has many options at their disposal to make a payment and they would like to be able to make that choice in choosing how they would like to pay.  In India, almost every online marketplace offers a plethora of alternatives for payment, like Paytm, Google Pay and credit/debit card transactions from multiple banks, from which the customer can choose.

While there are multiple tweaks and ways to increase the online sales of a product, following these tips can help streamline the sales process and offer a sense of understanding from a revenue standpoint as well.

Learn more about how to increase sales of a business here: 4 Tips For A Business To Increase Sales

 

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How To

4 Tips For A Business To Increase Sales

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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

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How To Start A Business With Little Capital

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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.

5. Crowdfunding

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

 

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