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Startups: How to Kick-Start Your Business?

Startups: How to Kick-Start Your Business?

  • 1 May 2023
  • By OCBC Business Banking
  • 10 mins read

The best business ideas are not based on size nor ambition, but the feasible opportunities within that can be capitalised on. Successful ventures are often developed from the owner’s personal strength or passion, environmental trends, and unmet demands. Echoing the tale of David and Goliath, a big idea triumphs big funding in the mind of an aspiring entrepreneur. After all, some of the most valuable brands today like Disney, Google and Apple started in a mere garage.

For those who are ready for a new venture, here are six simple tips to help you get started.

1. Self-evaluation

As a business owner, the classic shoulder-sized angel and devil are now replaced by your gut feelings on one side and logic on the other. Accordingly, you should recognise your own strengths and weakness to improve decision-making. Understanding your strengths such as skills, knowledge and experiences can improve efficiency as you will be required to take on different roles during early stages of the business. Taking on roles that you are passionate on will also interest and motivate you, leading to easier development and growth for both individual and business.

Additionally, understanding your weaknesses can help you to focus on building these capabilities either through training, hiring or by implementing relevant technologies. Business owners should not shy away from connecting the resources around them; you can always ask for help from people who share the same values as opinion givers, or even to be a part of your venture.

2. Write a Business Plan

The business plan is a roadmap of scheduled and unscheduled actions when starting your business; an insight into analysing and planning your business processes. Its main purpose is to outline your business strategy, which includes short and long-term goals, research methods, marketing mix (4P), operation plans, market place, marketing strategies, and business projection. The initial business plan should be simple, allowing for flexibility to expand on business concepts in the future.

Collection of relevant facts and information should be done to construct and challenge your business concept. You should also prepare qualitative analysis to test the feasibility of your ideas. Furthermore, this written plan helps you understand your funding needs and assess options of bootstrapping, crowdfunding, government grants, or to serve a smaller market. You can even use your business plan to convince people to work with you, or to invest in your business.

3. Market Research

To confirm and enhance your business concept, you will need to conduct market research with a focus on customers, competitors and the environment. This research, if done periodically, will play a part in ensuring that your business remains relevant to your target market for years to come.

By understanding customers’ demands and behaviours, you can develop products and services that satisfy their needs. You can define your target market based on geography, demography and consumer behaviour; then conduct product feasibility analysis to test these segments. The targeted market size, measurability and accessibility are important factors when deciding the worth of a market segment.

A competitive analysis should also be done on your direct and potential competitors to identify the market share, market saturation and pricing. You can also analyse their strategies and learn from their success factors. By understanding your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, you might identify unique ways to add value to the customers.

To get a good sense of the environment, you will need to consider the barriers to entry, community, regulations, political changes, industry norms, technological advances, economic and social trends.

4. Develop a sound Marketing Strategy

Once sufficient information on your business environment and target market are collected, you will need to build your branding and identify ways to reach the customers. Your marketing plan has to convey your brand value, and contains the planning of distribution channels, marketing channels and promotion methods based on research findings. It should also include estimated marketing costs and the expected returns.

In this digital age, you will need to craft a digital marketing strategy to connect with your customers, build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty. By understanding your customers, you can employ effective approaches such as Search Engine Optimisation, content creation, creating brand personas for different customer segments, or advertising on your customer’s preferred online platform. You should also set metrics in place to monitor the efficacy of your marketing methods, such as website traffic and activities, advertising cost per lead, acquisition and conversion, social media followers and engagement rate.

5. A Leaner Approach

Business owners can take a page from the Lean Start-up approach to gain a different perspective on building their business. This methodology promotes the idea of launching a start-up with just a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), as well as continuous hypothesis testing for refining products and processes. The business direction will pivot based on customer feedback while still maintaining the flexibility for future change. This methodology also includes that businesses should only be invested to scale after achieving product marketing fit.

Dropbox is an example of a successful lean strategy as they entered the market when consumers are still unfamiliar with file synchronisation. They created an MVP and communicated its simple feature through a clear demonstration video. Since launch, they gauged customer interest and add new services and features based on user data. In manufacturing, lean manufacturing (derived from the Toyota Production System) can also be used to shorten product-development cycles. IKOP Sdn. Bhd., a Malaysian start-up pharmaceutical company has successfully improved their process cycle efficiency of hand sanitiser with a reduction of 46.3% in lead time by applying lean tools.

While the lean approach can take many forms, the main essence is to operate in shorter cycles, to be consumer-centric and flexible to the greatest extent.

6. Apply for a Business Banking Account

Having a business account helps separate your personal and business transactions; it enables an organised handling of transactions, and gives your customers the feeling of security when making payment.

The OCBC eBiz Account is an example of a right fit for start-ups as it offers a complete digital application process and requires just a small initial deposit of RM500 and it comes with a Business Debit Card, an added convenience when managing cashless transactions with vendors around the world. The account comes with free business internet banking services (OCBC Velocity) and free business mobile banking (OCBC Malaysia Business Mobile Banking app), so that you can manage your business finances anytime and anywhere.

In sum, owning a successful business is not just financially rewarding, but it also encompasses a journey of self-discovery. New business owners often underestimate the arduous journey ahead, and feel beaten down by the unexpected hurdles risen from both internal operations and the external environment. Entrepreneurs with a long-term view would place their focus on the right mind-set above their bottom line, giving them the strength and perspective to remain resilient on overcoming any challenges that may come their way. Good luck to those looking to embark on that journey!


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