Having a successful business means starting properly, this is often easier than having to rectify mistakes. Everything starts with the business idea, which can often be chosen from; an existing and established skill/knowledge or identifying a gap/opportunity in the market, and then developing the necessary technique and knowledge.
A key to your business success involves getting the business idea right, your idea does not have to be original or revolutionary. Having an innovative idea has its own advantages as well as challenges, such as having to break into the market, educating the market, establishing a distribution structure etc. However, should you choose an idea that exists already, it is important that you have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Your business can only be differentiated from all your competitors, when you create a USP. It is a unique, distinctive or distinguishing and attractive idea that sets your business or venture apart from other competitors. When building a USP, it is best to choose one that addresses a need or gap in the market. Don’t adopt a USP that you cannot accomplish or implement; this could create a negative reputation for your business.
- Your USP must make a definite proposition to the prospect: ‘A specific benefit gained from buying a product or service’.
- Your USP must be unique, one that your competitors cannot or do not offer.
- The proposition should be strong and attractive to persuade prospects to either switch or start using your service or product.
USPs varies from the type or value of a product/service to customer service, purchasing or delivery method.An example of a USP is the Blockbusters Promise “… we’ll have so many copies of the following titles that if it’s not in store when you want it, you rent it FREE. That’s the Blockbuster Promise.”
Once your idea has been developed the next stage is the research; research yourself, research your potential business partner, research the market you plan on entering and research the types of finances available to you.
The market research is one of the most important and not to be compromised research you need to carry out. Omitting to carry out this research, even if it is only preliminary to start with, could lead to very dire consequences. You could find yourself in a market that is dead to its bones or you could find a market more buoyant than your wildest expectations. In carrying out a market research you are able to establish market growth/trends/climate, your target market & its receptiveness, your competitors etc.
Carrying out a market research on one hand can be quite easy & straightforward and other hand can be very time-consuming & intricate. This research can often be carried out at the business library or on the Internet. If you are finding it difficult to carry out this type of research it might be worthwhile paying for the service to be carried out by a market research agency or business consultant that provides this type of service.
Once you have had the market research done, you are now in a better position to know if and how to proceed. Don’t despair that your are spending too much time or money on research at the beginning, as it is never wasted and will be major input towards your business plan.