Women are becoming more confident in stepping out and starting their own business. They are finding their happy place by taking a chance on their entrepreneurial dream.
Forty percent of female entrepreneurs rated their happiness as a 10 out of 10, according to Guidant Financial’s State of Small Business Survey. When asked to rate their level of confidence, the overall average was a seven out of 10.
There are approximately 11.6 million women-owned small businesses in the U.S., according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. With so many women joining the world of business ownership, it’s more important than ever for them to have an edge on the competition and to beat them on building customer sales and loyalty. I use a 6-step process when working with my clients to help grow their business. It allows the client to view their product and service through the eyes of their customers and understand how to make the emotional connection that triggers customers to buy.
1. What is your product or service?
Before you can move on to the other five steps, you must understand your products inside and out. How can you sell something or build your brand when you don’t fully know what you sell? So, know what your product or service does. What makes it different from the alternative options? If you offer a variety of products/services with diverse pricing, you need to understand those that are most profitable.
2. What are its features and benefits?
Having a clear understanding of the difference between features and benefits is critical when positioning your product. Features are fact statement about a product. Benefits are the result of what the product will accomplish. Many salespeople try to use a list of features to sell a product when, in fact, customers will more often buy based on the benefits it offers. Customers want a need resolved when buying. A feature is important, but the benefit is essential – and that engages the customer emotionally. When you can link the feature to a benefit that will resolve a customer’s need, then the more likely they are to buy.
3. Collect competitive intelligence
Many people start a business because they love the product or love doing what they do. But too often they skip the step of collecting information that will help them to be successful and understand the competitive environment of their business. Just because someone is good at doing something doesn’t mean she is good at running a business. Understanding the nature of the beast is essential. One element of that is understanding what is going on in the world outside of your business to increase your competitive edge. Competitive intelligence takes time to collect and interpret, but the information allows you to build a successful marketing plan that connects directly to your ideal customer. Entreprenuer.com provides great resources for collecting competitive intelligence.
4. Who is your ideal customer?
Understanding your ideal customers and why they buy will allow you to identify more benefits of your product and build a larger customer following. You must know who your buyer is, what they like, and why they buy. Once you understand who your ideal customer is, you will be able to build your unique niche that separates you from the competition. Knowing your ideal customer helps you decide on your best marketing strategy targeted directly at them. You should build your website and your social media marketing with your ideal customer in mind to attract and build a more profitable customer base.
Knowing your customer may mean learning their age, gender, profession, social status, income, geographic location, education, marital status, and parental status.
5. Create a niche
Are you the person who offers so many things that buyers are too overwhelmed to find any value or motivation to buy from you? Does it take you three minutes to run down your product list or what it is you do? According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span is approximately 8 seconds, so you better talk fast. You can read about overcoming this attention challenge in “Are Declining Attention Spans Killing Your Content Marketing Strategy?”
Creating a niche requires you to narrow your focus to a few key products that fit your ideal customer. This also offers a healthy margin of profit. Your niche is not only about your product. It can also be about your experience and reputation. Your niche should be unique, meet customer demand and conform to your long-term vision. When you join together your niche and your ideal customer you can move forward to build your strategic sales plan. Today’s challenge is communicating your niche in a timely manner and captivating your audience.
6. Build your strategic sales plan
This is the piece most customers fear but is so necessary. Creating a strategic sales plan or business plan can be very intimidating. I work with my customers to break it up in bite-size pieces. Once steps 1-5 are completed, building the sales plan is pretty easy. I have noticed that small business owners who started a business for the love of what they do are not always comfortable going out and asking for the business. Building an actionable and measurable plan enables you to stay on point with the behaviors and marketing strategies that engage customers and drives business results. It’s a roadmap to success.
If you want to step out and take a chance on starting a business, GO FOR IT! There has never been a better time to take a chance on you! Just remember it takes more than just loving what you do to be successful, it takes a lot of hard work, planning, executing, and due diligence.