The four secret ingredients to optimise your business

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Starting a business is surprisingly easy – the process of establishing and growing one is where the challenges are. It’s tempting to keep doing what you’re already doing and hope you can build organically, but the truth about organic growth is that it needs a good foundation. Here are the four areas that make a difference.

Find a niche

A business rarely succeeds if it tries to be everything to everyone. Not only do you lack the resources to do everything, it also means you need to account for being in competition with everyone.

Finding a niche helps you distil and describe to potential customers what you do and sell, which means you can begin to establish a loyal audience. Being known for a particular product, quality, service or experience by creating a signature style gives customers a reason to buy from you instead of going to the competition.

In the beginning, it’s likely that you’ll start off doing or selling a few things to see what sticks. That’s okay, but have a strategy to find a niche. A good way to do this is to obtain feedback from customers in the early days to help you push in the right direction.

Focus your strengths

Just like finding a niche for your business helps you build a reputation in a particular area, knowing what you are good at, investing in those skills and knowledge and delegating the rest is a better use of your time than trying to be a generalist. People care more about your expertise than the range of middling skills you might have.

Start-ups often see founders wear many hats because they may not have the capacity to hire someone to delegate to on day one. As soon as possible, however, start finding ways to remove areas you find challenging from your responsibilities, whether that’s through outsourcing or contracting out work, or bringing in someone even for part-time. Make sure this team member is focusing on their strengths so they can give you their all and balance your weaknesses.

Serve the market

One of the challenging aspects of building your start-up is identifying how well your start-up caters to the market that you’re addressing. You start with an idea, you know there’s a problem statement, and you’ve also realised that your start-up idea could address the pain points of your projected customer. It might sound obvious, but spend some time defining that market, then serve it.

The most successful entrepreneurs are those who get the product-market fit aspect of delivering what the users want right, even if the product or service is totally innovative or revolutionary.

Build resilience

Resilience is often portrayed as stubbornness in the face of adversity, but it’s actually closer to cultivating an attitude that brings together confidence, hardiness and the ability to persevere even if times are tough. Whereas stubbornness is inflexible, resilience is the capacity to recover from setbacks using flexibility strategically.

Business resilience is extremely important. Without it, few businesses can recover from unexpected disruptions or can adapt fast enough to sudden changes in market demand or regulatory requirements.

The key to building resilience is knowing that it’s not just a reactive skill that switches on when a person faces challenges. Resilience comes from expecting these challenges and developing the skills and fortitude to withstand them. This promotes a proactive approach to work and life, which in turn enables better problem-solving and helps to maintain motivation.

Going from start-up to established business is a matter of aligning these four elements. Once they are in harmony it becomes very clear who you are, who you’re serving and what you strive for, which gives you the direction and purpose you need to succeed.