From Dreams to Dollars: Four Ways to Take Your Startup Idea to the Next Level

In today’s digital era, it seems that almost anyone with a bright idea and the resources to put behind it can find success as a startup entrepreneur or small business owner. On one hand, it’s an incredibly exciting time for the economy. It means there are more people, with more connections and capabilities than ever before, who are able to share their talents, dreams and visions with the rest of the world. On the other hand, it means that competition for business and patronage is the fiercest it’s ever been, and to stand out takes more than traditional outreach tactics.

Still, the notion of competition should propel business owners forward, not keep them from success. If you’re currently toying with the idea of turning your idea into a profitable business, then read on. Today, we’re taking a look at four ways leaders can get their startup concepts off the ground, even if resources are scarce.

1. Be willing to tweak your business plan.

Business plans are key. They’re the documentation that lays out precisely what goods or services you intend to provide, which resources you currently have, how you’ll obtain the ones you need, your vision and forecast for the future, short- and long-term goals and much more. Before moving forward even one step in this process, it’s important to draft one and keep it nearby. However, keep in mind that your business plan isn’t static. It’s intended to be a living document that changes and adjusts as your startup does.

That said, revisit it often. Take a look at any goals you’ve set and determine whether or not you’ve reached them. Or, you might ascertain that you need to develop new goals that are more aligned with where your business currently is. Make any adjustments you see fit and make sure everyone on your team is aware of the changes.

2. Understand and utilize social media.

You might be a mom-and-pop hardware store built on the foundation of simple values and hard work. While that’s an incredible platform, even the most humble and digitally-removed entity would be remiss not to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that social media has to offer. Start by analyzing which social media channels fit the closest with your business goals and identity. For instance, if you offer services, such as photography, crafting, home design and more, that are heavily visual in nature, you might find more value in posting pictures of your finished projects on Instagram, which is centered on images, than on LinkedIn, which fosters professional networking.

You might also consider creating a business page on Facebook or Twitter, where you can connect with followers, share promotions and discounts, and host giveaways to grow you online community. Once you’re up and running, commit to posting and responding to comments on a regular basis. Then, analyze your social media metrics to determine which tactics are working and which need a little tweaking.

3. Create content and share it.

Getting your name out there as a startup can be a more laborious task than you first imagined. If no one has heard of you, it can be challenging to establish thought leadership and stand out as a star in your industry space. To that end, it’s helpful to start a blog, where you can share interesting and relevant data with your website visitors and social media followers. To boost the return on your time investment, make sure the content is readable, sharable and as actionable as possible. Then, work with your website designer to give it a starring role on your homepage. While you’re at it, work with your design team to discover more ways to make your website as user-friendly and responsive as possible so your content is always accessible.

That means if you’re a florist, you might wax poetic about your personal love of flowers in a blog post, but that will only get you so far. Rather, create content that explains how to create a floral arrangement, ways to plant and care for flowers in your own home, which flowers are best for certain climates, and more. This is the kind of knowledge your readers crave and delivering it in an informative and interactive layout can help build both your credibility and your brand loyalty.

4. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

For some startup owners, these three letters are the crux of their visibility and outreach agenda, and for good reason. Put simply, SEO is the process of making sure your website content shows up as high as possible on major search engines such as Google. After all, why spend the time and money to create an incredible website and creative blog if no one can find it when they need it the most? The foundation of solid SEO is a keyword strategy. You want to incorporate certain keywords into your content so that when a reader looks for that word or phrase in a general online search query, your website will be revealed. For instance, if you’re a painter in Houston, you might use keywords such as “painting in Houston,” “find a painter in Houston” or “Houston, TX painters” to align your business with that association.

One way to jumpstart your SEO strategy is to take a look at what your competition is doing on that end, and how you can differentiate yourself. What keywords are they using and how often are they posting? Take heart and remember that appearing on the first page of Google won’t happen overnight but if and when it does, it could skyrocket your small business into the big leagues.

Finding Sustainable Success as a Small Business Owner

The act of owning and running a small business is not without its challenges. Yet, if you have an idea and a passion that you believe in enough, there is hardly any setback that can keep you down permanently. The key to finding repeatable success? Be willing to change your original plan, connect with your followers and target audience, grow your online presence, accept help and mentorship from others, cultivate a team that’s as invested in your company as you are and work together daily toward your end goal. When you follow these simple steps, your odds of becoming a small business success story are that much greater.