The coming of the startup era has sparked the entrepreneurial enthusiasm in almost all of us. But not all of us can find enough motivation to set for the sail. Of those who do take off, they find themselves struggling to survive on limited resources and make use of whatever little tools they can afford.
This makes many neo-entrepreneurs design their own business cards, take online photo-shop tutorials, create their own brand logos, and compose their own marketing brochures. Though worthy of appreciation, but such self-learnt attempts often end up being unimpressive.
What they fail to spot is that despite their best intentions, their core outlook and mindset are impairing their own growth. They work diligently but find themselves stuck in unscalable business models.
And to build a scalable business –that can make people pay for the offered products and services– an owner has to break through his “small-business mentality.”
Now, that sets the ball rolling. This must have got you thinking, what is a small-business mentality? Beginning largely with poor branding, it is a combination of reactive business decisions and an absence of sound-system and self-awareness.
It is not uncommon for a lot of business to fear thinking big, the idea of launching big being even more distant. The noted tech-entrepreneur Elon Musk says “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” He adds that brand is nothing but a collective impression of a product.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem has understood that there are few common actions that reflect a small-business mindset. Acknowledged by the business owners, new businesses often postpone fixing these later but these mistakes are big enough to ruin the game even before it begins.
Does your business have a ‘Non-branded’ Email?
So, you ask a business owner for their email, and they happily tell you ‘something “@gmail.com”’. Yes, that is the company email.
The first thing that will come to your mind is “Do they have a business for real?” or “How long has this person been in business?”
Get tech-savvy and explore how the domain hosts offer free branded emails. Google also provides branded email for as low as $6 per month.
Do not miss the chance to earn credibility with your potential customers. All it takes is an email of your own brand.
Are you printing ‘Pvt Ltd’ on all materials?
So you have registered your business as a Private Limited Company. That’s fine. But are you getting that printed on all the documents too? If yes, then you are almost screaming to the industry to perceive you as a small business owner.
The idea is to think big! There is nothing wrong in being a private limited company. Apparently, Amazon, Apple, Nike and other industry giants float many limited liability subsidiaries, but they don’t ever market their products under a limited liability banner.
So, whatever you may be registered as, never put Pvt Ltd (seen commonly in India) next to your logo. You also need to re-examine the need to put it on all your marketing materials too.
Who is working on your marketing material?
If you rely on friends and family to create your promotion material, even worse if you are DIYing, to save the costs then remember this:
Saving money can be a costly affair in business.
Poor marketing materials will repel your target audience. An aggressive marketing of your business with poorly designed brochures will spoil your brand image and it will cheapen the value of the website too.
But we understand that you are on a shoe-string budget. Learn the principles of designing and openly discuss your designs with your peers. Take their feedback and make revisions if necessary. Do not be blind to the ‘free-designs’ pushed your way. Critically analyse it and take professional help if needed.
Do you know about self?
We are living in a digital world. People run online searches for everything they come across. When your business reaches them, what do they find about it online?
A research says, 86% consumers bother to read reviews. So will your potential customers. It’s important to learn what the marketplace is saying about your business. You must also consistently work to improve the experience of your customers and potential buyers.
Any business rarely gets a second chance to make its first impression. Succeeding in a business is tough, and one must try not to make it tougher by dysfunctional marketing strategies.
Not only accounts, your marketing materials too need frequent audits. Work on your online presence.
Stop taking the DIY route, drop the extended name of your company from routine promotions, and push your company’s name as its brand—do the same for your email addresses too.
Most of all, stop thinking small, and plan to do things the way any big successful business would do.