If you’re getting ready to launch a new business, there can be a lot of overwhelming checklists of important things to finalize. Of course, you need capital and a great idea. But what about the day-to-day operations? It’s no secret that startups frequently fail. A lack of proper planning and essential tools increases the odds. Before you dive into the process, there are some things you should know, and must have, to increase your chances for business success.
Businesses, even small businesses with limited resources, have the opportunity to thrive in today’s environment. All it takes is a dedicated team and the right tools to achieve and measure success to turn a great idea into a successful reality. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources readily available designed to help entrepreneurs run their startups smoothly.
Read on to learn the seven most important things every new business owner should know to prepare for success.
A brand is the sum of the associations and experiences your customers and potential customers have with your business. A strong brand conveys what your company does and how it does it while establishing trust and credibility. Branding is how you create positive feelings about your company that will motivate people to purchase from you rather than your competitors.
Your brand exists in everyday interactions with your customers – the images you share, the messaging on your website, the content in your marketing materials, and your social media posts. Therefore, it should be consistent across all online and offline platforms. At Jungle Communication, our 7-step brand development process includes:
- Define your core message
- SWOT analysis
- Research target audience
- Establish a relatable brand voice
- Acquire marketing resources
- Spread brand awareness
- Manage, track, and adjust
Marketing consists of the tools you utilize to deliver your brand’s message and create awareness around it. It continually evolves as the products and services you offer change. Marketing is directly and specifically geared towards sectors of your target audience, all while supporting the core values of your brand.
Marketers employ a variety of online and offline methods – some of the most common include:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Pay Per Click marketing
- Mobile marketing
- TV and Radio advertising
- Print ad campaigns
3) Business Name
Choosing the perfect business name that is catchy, resonates with customers, and communicates what your business is about is in no way an easy feat. Companies have failed mainly due to a name that didn’t work, so it’s essential to get it right. Consider the Curl Up & Dye Salon and Hindenburger burger joint. Most people like to emerge from their hair salon appointments alive and consider it poor taste to name your burger joint after an air disaster in which dozens of people burned to death!
Picking the right name is also key to differentiating you from your competitors. Customers associate a business name with the value that your products and services provide to them. A good name should be short and easy to pronounce. Shorter names are ideal because they tend to be very brandable and easy for consumers to remember.
Your name can incorporate new or existing words, however, there are pros and cons with each option. Invented words – think Dasani, Häagen-Dazs, IKEA, and even Sony – reduce the risk of confusion with competitors but can require a lot of time and marketing dollars before you establish meaning with customers.
Conversely, existing names have the advantage of established meanings, but those terms are also likely to be used by your competitors. An overriding concern about using a common term is whether trademark and domain names are available and many common words are already taken.
It’s unlikely that the perfect business name will pop into your head immediately. Evaluate names for their future potential rather than selecting one based on personal preference. Although naming your business can be a challenging exercise, the result will be well worth the effort. Not surprisingly, there are tools available to help you pick the perfect name! Don’t settle on your first choice without first working through the process of researching and vetting its viability in your target market.
4) Logo Design
You know a great logo when you see it – simple, clear, memorable, and stands out from the noise and clutter. Your logo is your brand’s public face, so it needs to be strong, energetic, and pack a punch. Designing an effective logo isn’t easy, but if you do the preliminary work, you’ll have the insight you need to create a logo that makes a lasting impression. The main logo styles are:
- Letter Mark (initials)
- Wordmark (initials)
- Brandmark (typographic/signature)
- Symbolic (symbol)
- Emblem (badge)
- Combination Mark (text + symbol)
5) Business Website
Building a business website is vital for informing your audience, explaining your value proposition, boosting brand awareness and recognition, and driving sales. To build a business website, first, you need to decide on a domain name and secure web hosting. Luckily there are tools available to help you through this process. For example, sites like GoDaddy and Google Domains both help you choose a domain name. GoDaddy also offers website hosting and Google Domains partners with several website builders you can use to create and host your site. You can check out a comparison of them here.
Next, you’ll want to optimize your website to improve your search engine rankings and drive traffic. We’ll discuss that in detail below, but here’s a handy checklist to get you started.
Maintain your website by keeping it up to date and optimized for mobile devices. Also, ensure your site speed is sufficient to improve your search engine rankings. Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on page performance on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how you can improve that page.
The steps involved in building your website include:
- Determine your website’s primary purpose (e.g., educate, inform, sell)
- Select your domain name – should be short, descriptive, and easy to remember and type in
- Choose a web host – a server that stores all your data for the public to access
- Build your pages – create multiple pages dedicated to different aspects of your business, including your products or services, or a blog post for company updates
- Set up your payment system, if applicable (e.g., e-commerce software or third-party payment processors)
- Test and publish your website – make sure it works on all major browsers before going live on the web
6) SEO Strategy
A search engine optimization strategy (SEO) is the exercise of organizing a website’s content by topic clusters to improve the likelihood of appearing in search results. A sound SEO strategy maximizes your opportunity to gain organic traffic from search engines.
An SEO strategy helps keep you on track when creating content for your website and social media posts. Instead of just guessing what people are looking for, your strategy will ensure that you’re creating content that people are searching for.
The key elements of SEO that site owners need to consider are:
- Technical SEO: How well the search engines can crawl and index your content
- Content: Having the best and most relevant answers to searchers’ questions
- On-site SEO: The optimization of your content and HTML (e.g., keyword research)
- Off-site SEO: Building authority to ensure Google stacks the cards in your favor (e.g., link- building)
An important part of any SEO strategy is keyword research – understanding the language and intent of your target audience. Keyword research can tell you vital insight, including:
- Where you rank for important keywords
- Which keywords are easy to rank for
- Which keywords your competitors are ranking for
- What people are searching for, rather than what you think they are searching for
Let’s say your business is a carpet cleaning service and you’re looking for keyword options to rank high on the SERPs for carpet cleaning in Newark. Here again, there are several tools, including SEMrush and Ahrefs, that can help perform keyword research, grow your organic search traffic, and outrank your competition. Ubersuggest is another good alternative with its freemium offer.
Having an SEO strategy for content marketing is a critical piece of the puzzle because it’s how your content will display in search engine result pages (SERPs). Suppose your content is scattered throughout and unorganized. In that case, search engine bots will have a more challenging time crawling and indexing your site. A technical SEO audit will help you identify key issues with the user experience. Examples include:
- Homepage is missing a clear navigation menu showing site sections
- Some site tools and application forms are inaccessible
- Poor placement of priority content
- Instances of broken page links and missing page content
7) Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media is a free and easy tool for companies to connect with audiences interested in their brand directly – and it’s fun. But free and fun doesn’t mean that you can just log in and start posting. First, you need to create a social media strategy.
The top five social platforms are:
Social media is now an essential component of an inbound marketing strategy. Generating valuable content and ranking well for it on the SERPs is one thing, but sharing that content with the right people and reaching those interested in your brand, product, or service back to your site is another.
At Jungle Communications, we’re a team of marketing, creative, and advertising experts that help startups and small businesses produce higher quality, more relevant marketing strategies and tactics.
We combine branding, marketing, communication, design, SEO, and social media with a variety of inbound and outbound marketing initiatives. The result is increased awareness, reputation, trust, and loyalty – and sales. Let us guide you through your new business launch with proper planning and execution. Contact us to learn more.