Take your startup from zero to hero

growBefore you started working on your startup and before you quit your day job, you likely spent a lot of time researching how you should get going. You read thousands of articles, listened to podcasts, spoke to friends who had done the same and scoured stores for books on the subject.


You startup is beginning to do well. Now what? How do you take your business to the next level? Here are four tips to take your startup from zero to hero.


It’s all about the timing. As is the case for everything in life, you need to be in the right place, at the right time. To do that you need to be able to spot a gap in the market or realise what consumers want, before they even know it. To do this, you need to have your finger on the pulse of what is happening. You need to keep yourself updated about everything happening in that particular industry.


Build your brand. Your brand is everything which comes to mind whenever a consumer thinks about your product or service. You need to connect with consumers on an emotional level so your brand is thought of as a leader and influencer. You need to pay attention to a number of factors:


  • Choosing the right target market.
  • Connecting to your target market.
  • Making sure your brand is known for excellent service.


When all of these factors come together, consumers will begin to favour your brand over others.


Pivot your brand. You definitely won’t want to do this too soon. But eventually you will want to diversify. When the time is right, you’ll need to apply for equipment finance so your business can begin to grow. Be sure to stick to related products or service. Otherwise, your business can begin to feel disjointed. This could confuse your customers and push them to your competitors where they’ll be sure of what they’re getting.


Get online. As the world becomes increasingly digital and more companies are moved online, it has become more and more important for your business to be online. Make sure your website can be found by anyone who searches for it by making use of SEO strategies. You should also make a point of using social media to your advantage.
Take your time to launch and grow slowly. But don’t wait too long. If you wait too long to grow your business, you’ll never get anywhere.

Updating your store

If it has been a while since your physical store has been updated, you might want to take a look around and see if it is as good as it can be. Even in the digital era where people can do most of their shopping without leaving the house, your physical store is still important.

Read on to find out how to give your store the makeover it deserves.

Realise that your store is your brand

Think about your brand. Now look at your store. Is there a correlation between the two? You need to realise that your store is an extension of your brand and therefore needs to reflect your brand image.

So before you do anything further assess how well your brand image comes across in your store. If you’re not too sure what your brand image is then you had better stop, take two steps back and work on that first.

Opt for a flexible store layout

If you are going to update your store, why don’t you do so in such a way that you make the layout flexible, which means you will be able to quickly and easily update it again in future as needed?

In other words, having a store layout that can be adapted depending on the season or particular promotions you have going on at the time. For instance, you can use shop fitting like standardised, multi-functional applicable components that let you change the look and feel of your store without too much cost and difficulty.

Customer experience is most important

It’s not just the quality and pricing of your products or the level of your service that constitute the effect on your customers. It’s about the whole shopping experience, from the moment they enter your store all the way through till checkout.

For instance, the physical layout should allow for fluid movement, even during your busiest hours. Customers should feel encouraged to browse around and linger at different points of interest. Even if you own something like a garage where the main focus isn’t on retail, something like your petrol station POS should still be optimised for efficiency and convenience.

Het help from the professionals

Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? There are professional shop fitters that can help you with every element, such as mapping the layout or assisting with the electrical work and plumbing. They will also know what the trends are and how to keep the makeover within budget.


How to improve the experience of modern retail customers

Shopping can be a pleasant experience – even though most people would rather merely acquire the items they need and leave. This is partially why there has been a massive rise in the online retail shopping. Indeed, with the rise of digital, retail shopping in-stores must do more to entice people out their homes and away from the apparent convenience of merely clicking and ordering the items they require.

Competing with the convenience of digital is an ongoing concern for all industries, that have traditionally relied on walk-in customers. But the two need not be opposed; in fact that one can lead to the other. Just as the internet is a tool for customers, it can be and should be a tool for businesses.

Consider for example social media: this has proven a highly effective way to engage directly with customers. As social media experts and designers Hootsuite note: social media can inform you about your audience and their needs; it is also highly effective marketing as it helps you reach audience who might never have heard of you; you can also obtain instant feedback to improve your business. The ease of communication means you will get feedback (both positive and negative) which is often overlooked in walk-in experiences of retail.

None of this negates or ignores in-store foot traffic. It’s important to still maintain efficiency at every point – whether online or instore. You still need excellent customer assistants, you still need up-to-date point of sale software, you still need the best stock and competitive prices.

To do better by your customers, you need to have their input. Though digital customers might be easier to measure in terms of their responses, you might want to find ways to also obtain information from in-store customers. Handing out question cards – as long as they are not long or too detailed – or directing them to suggestion boxes can do wonders. So often, we as business people, might overlook simple changes that only customers see.

It’s important than to take measurements and obtain data – which you can do in multiple ways – no matter how harsh or difficult it might be. We can’t hide from facts and from what makes objective sense to improve the business; our failures shouldn’t be hidden, but faced head-on to overcome, improve and create a better business.

Getting your business noticed online

In the increasingly difficult to get noticed in a world swarming with information. Everyone wants to be at the top and thus needs to find a way to get there. Being good isn’t sufficient any longer and we need to figure out the various ways we can get noticed in today’s furious online culture – where information is instant and consumption is particular.

The first thing people think of is that you need expensive marketing budgets: billboards, TV adverts, giant posters. Some of the most expensive adverts cost in the tens of millions of British Pounds. But, for the average small business, we simply could not afford such expenses.

But your budget need not be about having lots of money – or, indeed, even about money. Primarily, you can market yourself primarily on time and energy. One of the best, and most powerful and efficient, ways to do this is to market yourself properly on social media.

You need to learn how to engage directly with customers, using services like Twitter and Facebook. But just because you’ve signed up and have a profile doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it correctly.

As Entrepreneur notes:

“Just like a person who constantly talks about himself, a company that never stops selling on social media is a bore. Don’t use every post and tweet to tout your product or service. Instead, mix in some links to interesting stories that are relevant to your industry and community, as well as personal posts, such as a fun anecdote about your office culture.”

Another good way is to become a resource for HARO.

“From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.”

If you or your company is then taken up as an authority, you could find yourself being given a platform in some of the most read spaces online. It might important to keep track of this and then request links back to your site if you are mentioned.

Of course, all this won’t make sense if you don’t have a website. Maintaining your website is essential, as today most of your customers are more than likely finding out about you online – thus will be presented with a first impression with how they are presented to you digitally.

All of this, of course, doesn’t make sense if your own office is lacking. Keeping your equipment up-to-date is essential in order to not lose connection and staying ahead of the game. It might mean you need to consider asset finance, but considering you’re paying to stay connected, it is a priority you must maintain.

The use of nostalgia and sentiment in advertising.

Remember the ringing bell of the ice cream trolley bundling its way down the street; or playing ‘stuck in the mud’ as a kid; or how about the Carte Blanche music that signals the end of your weekend? It’s stimuli like these that trigger our nostalgia – that sentimental yearning for a happier time or place. And it didn’t take marketers long to cotton onto this.

Nostalgia marketing is marketing that is aimed at evoking that feeling of nostalgia in people. Studies have shown that there are two kinds of memories associated with nostalgia: Social interactions – family gatherings, dancing a club etc. – And momentous life events such as graduating from matric or getting married. These are the memories our minds are drawn to when the feeling of nostalgia is evoked.

And why is all this important? Well, usually reminiscing on these memories makes us happy. It works even better during times where we’re stressed or feeling down since we’re hard wired to think this way as humans. Our happier memories are lifted to the surface of our memory banks, while, a lot of the bad stuff is hidden deeper.

It’s more comforting to think of easier times when perhaps we had less responsibility or things were simpler, than pondering issues that we may be facing in the present – expenses, children, the stresses of work for example. That’s why marketers will use older songs, past product models and other tricks to connect our nostalgic happiness with the brand or product. In turn, it’s likely to have a positive effect on how we respond to that brand. Remember the old Volksie ads from the 80s, 90s and 00s? Having established themselves as a strong car brand in South Africa, Volkswagen can now call upon these old ads to further their brand message. Just think about that the next time you’re buying a pre-owned Volkswagen.

Brands do have to be careful though. They need to understand their market well, because what a 20-year old finds nostalgic, might not apply to a 40-year old. Also, if a brand takes something that people trust and cherish and tries to change their perception about it, it may backfire.