So much more goes into starting and growing a successful small business than simply having a cool idea. Sure, that may be step one, but there are plenty of good ideas that failed as small businesses. This isn’t meant to frighten you. Instead, it’s meant to get you to work that much harder to ensure your business starts off on the right foot. Here is some essential advice.

Focus on Your Website

Sure, social media has grown to become a powerhouse for reaching and engaging with potential and current customers and clients. But even so, your business’ website remains the number one tool to connect with the public. Your website is likely the first — and maybe only — look people will get at your business. That’s why it’s so important to have a professional, informative, and easily navigated website. If you need help getting started, this guide shows you an overview of an easy-to-navigate, user-friendly website that acts as a storefront for goods/services and provides an excellent digital footprint. If you’re savvy enough to build a website yourself, go for it. Otherwise, enlist the help of a professional so your website looks top- notch. You’ll also want to keep your website updated regularly so that it evolves with changing technology and needs.

Don’t Neglect Social Media

If your website is your body, then Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are your clothing and hairstyle. It’s what people truly remember about you and what you should focus on daily to attract people. The best thing about social media is that it allows you to grow your business on a budget. It’s usually free (unless you pay to promote your posts). Social media has the ability to give your new business increased visibility, brand awareness, more inbound traffic, and brand loyalty. There are plenty of social media hacks for the business beginner. You can cross promote across multiple platforms and tie everything back to your website (and vice versa) through branded icons, for example. It’s really the king of direct marketing.

Generate Capital for Your New Business

Unless you found yourself a couple of angel investors or completed a successful crowdfunding campaign, chances are you don’t have tons of extra cash in your war chest. For many small businesses, the beginning stages involve a lot of spending money and not a lot of making money. That’s why it’s vital you think about generating capital via side hustles.

One option is the sharing economy — making money via a peer-to-peer app like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, etc. There’s also the option to freelance, consult, and/or tutor, most of which can be done online. Another option is to sell your wares on a marketplace like Etsy — anything, really, to generate some extra cash on the side. The good thing about online and from-home work is that it is flexible, and you need that flexibility if your main focus is starting up a business.

Find Your Niche

The best small businesses solve a problem; they don’t try to solve a bunch of problems satisfactorily — they solve one problem very well. In other words, they have a niche. Niche doesn’t have to mean a small or strange focus. Part of finding that niche involves doing research on your potential competition. Part of it is estimating how profitable you can be in your particular niche by searching profitability in related fields. Sure, you should love what you’re doing and have a passion for your business, but don’t be afraid to find the perfect market.

These tips should get you in a place to succeed. However, don’t forget about perhaps the most important thing: stay happy and healthy. Focus on self-care so that you have the strength to truly throw yourself into your passion. A small business can only be as healthy as the person at its helm, so your mental, physical, and spiritual health is paramount.

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