There is no question that “entrepreneurs face a different set of challenges because they operate with much higher uncertainty”, but that doesn’t mean as a start-up you’re immune from the pitfalls of traditional business.
Failing to plan is planning to fail; it’s as simple as that. Entrepreneurship has been on the rise partly thanks to technology, so much so that in today’s society, skipping university to kick off a start-up is not only ‘the done thing’, but often encouraged.
What the start-up & freelance economy often fail to realise in the B2B space is that not understanding business planning, insights, market opportunities and looking at the business from a short-term perspective leads to the downfall of many motivated entrepreneurs.
Having worked with dozens of entrepreneurs and big businesses over the years, there are some hard and fast rules when it comes to the ‘right & wrong way’ to get into the market.
Here are a few things to consider when kicking off your start-up:
You can still be nimble with a plan
“Keep it lean man” and “embrace being nimble” are two of the famous catch cries from start-up leaders the world over. But why does being nimble mean not having a plan?
In a B2B market, not having a business plan or strategy in place is a sure-fire way to blow through your start-up capital, investor’s money and then be left out in the cold.
The troubles often experienced in the B2B space can be difficulty in finding market opportunities, failure to adopt a B2B mindset or simply looking to fulfil short-term orders, rather than thinking strategically about who the ‘best fit’ customers are.
A strategic business plan is a roadmap to success. It outlines the strategic objectives & functional tactics required to achieve or exceed these objectives within your target market.
The plan should also clearly identify the target market, the sub-segments, buying patterns & behaviours as well as the best marketing & sales strategies to achieve corporate objectives.
This is not a plan to ‘bind’ your business with; it is a ‘flight plan to success’ as it puts metrics in place to benchmark your performance and ‘pivot’ if required to move into a new and exciting iteration of your model to meet B2B customer needs.
Figure out how to find and target an opportunity
B2B sales is like a sniper is to an infantry brigade. It needs to be strategic, calculated and targeted – not a blanket approach like a B2C marketing program.
Entrepreneurs are often so ‘caught up’ in the idea or innovation and its features that they forget they have no idea about the customer, their needs or the trends that are changing the way the B2B industry they are looking to participating within.
When targeting customers, work out a targeted list that is serviceable by your B2B company so that you can bring customers through the door and service them properly.
Don’t waste time on ‘the biggest’ clients, work out who ‘the best’ clients are for your business, and solve their problems first.
Listen to your customer’s needs!
In B2B it is not about what your product features or benefits are, it is how it is solving a problem for your customers business model that is important.
Listen to their needs, understand their supply chain, their business model & their industry pain points, only then can you truly understand the best solution you can provide for them.
Play the long game
In most sales organisation, you are as only as good as your last sale. However, in B2B you need to play the ‘long game’.
Keep in mind that the typical B2B sale is higher in value, longer in terms of closure and also, if you have done your job right, a much higher likelihood of repeat purchase.
When you are engrained in a B2B business relationship, the ‘swapping costs’ of your customers to a competitor’s product is much higher than in the B2C space, as you are essentially a ‘partner to their business’. But this comes with added responsibilities, as a partner, you need to behave like one and not simply walk away when the going gets tough.
Where many entrepreneurs go wrong, is that they get caught up in their product, service or experience rather than taking the time to understand the customer, the industry & market in which they are so desperately trying to capitalise upon.
The best way to ‘get it right’ is to stay informed, remain updated and be in regular contact with industry insiders B2B trends and your customers, as your next big sale could be just around the corner.
For regular insights, trends and approaches to help you win in B2B markets, sign up today to Listen Innovate Grow – the blog for owners and managers of start-ups and SMEs looking to grow & thrive within B2B markets.