Everyone knows just how difficult it is to build a business. With each passing day, new problems arise, pressure mounts while expectations plummet. Not only is it difficult to drum up sales at one point or another, but the seemingly endless responsibilities that are tasked to any business owner can make most run for the fences.
That might be why only 8 out of 10 businesses survive their first 18 months of operations. That might also be why only 4 out of every 100 businesses make it to the 10-year mark. Clearly, success isn’t the norm here. If you’ve recently started or have been running a business for a brief period, the odds are most certainly stacked up against you.
However, how is it that some people know just how to build a business, and they can do it on a shoestring budget? How do they defy the odds, blasting through the proverbial failures to reach the shores of hope? Not only do they survive the tumult and headwinds that often blow their way, they also thrive.
Thriving in business is something that everyone wants. No one wants to endure failure after failure. Yet, that seems to be commonplace these days. Businesses going under are simply soundbites that we hear over and over again. Still, there must be a method to the madness. How do you succeed in business, get ahead in life and actually build something of value over time?
This isn’t about leaving a legacy for generations to come; this is about learning the ropes, understanding and avoiding the pitfalls, and discovering how to thrive in a market that’s geared against most would-be entrepreneurs. The truth? There certainly is a way to build a business, even on a shoestring budget, and actually succeed over time.
It isn’t easy to do. In fact, it’s painful. It requires true sacrifice and an unwavering desire to achieve your goals above all else. Not many people follow through. But to the victor goes the spoils. However, those that win at the game of business, certainly set themselves up for success. They know the recipe behind succeeding at business in the long term.
The Recipe For Business Success
If you’re in business for yourself, and are wondering whether a recipe for success exists in your line of work, it most certainly does. But this recipe isn’t some advanced formula. It doesn’t require a degree in astrophysics or entail some other complex understanding only decipherable by highly intelligent people.
No, the recipe for business success is simple and it’s straightforward. What I’ve learned by analyzing some of the world’s most successful people who failed repeatedly is that success in business involves 5 fundamental rules. If you heed the advice of these 5 rules, then you’ll eventually succeed over time. It won’t happen quickly or easily. But it will happen.
#1 — Always Deliver Value
The first thing you need to succeed in business on a shoestring budget is to convey a real value proposition. What kind of value are you adding to the world. Without adding value, you’ll fail. In fact, the world’s most successful businesses have added the most value. Yet, too often, businesses focus more on profits and less on value.
While money is a motivator for all people, it’s those that put value in front of money who achieve the greatest success. If you follow any rule in business, follow this one. It involves doing the most amount of work for the least initial return. If you abide by that, you’ll eventually succeed over time.
This involves doing the most amount of work for the least initial return. At the outset, it’s painful to ensure that your value proposition is in place. It requires near-endless hours of work and countless weeks, months and possibly years of struggle and heartache. But in the end, that’s what it takes.
#2 — Put The Customer First, Always
No matter what anyone else tells you, there’s no room for ego in business. The customer is always right. Always. Okay, there are very minor exceptions to this rule, but aside from those exceptions, you need to ensure a great experience for your customers. As long as you take care of your customers, you’ll take care of your business.
While satisfied customers might not always tell friends or family about your business, dissatisfied customers will almost always let the world know just how unhappy they were. And you don’t want that. This isn’t just about trying to avoid a problem; this is about trying to create a business that really puts the customer first and foremost.
Even if you have to lose money on a transaction to ensure that a customer is happy, then lose money. That’s what it takes. It hurts at the time. But it pays off down the line.
#3 — Be Amenable To Change
Often, companies need to transform and morph. Some are willing to do this. Some are not. The companies that are unwilling to be amenable to change, often see themselves at a crossroads when markets, consumer behavior or technologies, shift. Case in point is Kodak. Once a behemoth of a company. Now defunct. Kodak wasn’t amenable to the shift from print to digital in the marketplace.
Other companies that are willing to embrace change, see their footprint grow rather than diminish in the market. The point? Don’t be afraid to change. Twitter wasn’t always a micro-blogging site. It changed and adapted when it saw its original concept as a podcasting company called Odeo, fail.
But change shouldn’t just happen at the breaking point. It has to occur along the way. This can only happen through a constant analysis of key business metrics, along with a willingness and openness to understand market and consumer trends in a particular industry or niche.
#4 – Harbor Unrelenting Belief
Most that businesses fail do so because of a lack of belief. Either it was a lack of belief by the founders in themselves, or a lack of belief in the company’s products or services, in the marketplace or the demand, or a million other things. But it was a lack of belief that stifled that company at the very foundation of it.
The truth is that most people would rather give up due to a lack of belief than they would to persist. Persisting equates to a lot of pain. And most people do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. But failure is the surest pathway to success as long as you don’t give up.
People fail all the time. Even the most famous people in the world failed the most times. But not everyone persists. Not everyone has that deep-rooted belief in themselves and their abilities to succeed in business no matter what the costs. However, that’s just what it takes.
#5 – Focus Is Power
The fifth rule for building a business success, no matter what the budget, has to do with your focus. Focus is pure power. What you focus on, you’ll move towards. No matter what that is, over time, you’ll gravitate towards it. As soon as you lose your focus and you allow other things to interrupt it, that’s when you lose sight of your goals.
The truth is that many people choose to focus on negativity rather than positivity. Instead, you have to focus your attention on all the positive things that are happening. While it’s difficult to keep a positive mindset, especially during times of failure, that’s precisely what’s necessary in order to succeed.
By focusing on positivity, you can also persist through the most difficult times. You won’t want to give up because your mind replete with good vibrations and positive energy. It might sound foolish to some, but this single principle allowed some of the world’s most successful people to make it through their most difficult times.
Building Your Business On A Shoestring Budget
Clearly, without those key ingredients, no matter what type of shoestring budget you try to enlist, success will be fleeting. Yet, if you harbor those fundamental tenets in business, you can see things through, even if you have almost no cash on hand, if you’re struggling financially or are even heavily in debt.
The truth? You don’t need droves of cash to build a big business. Nearly every successful business started out with virtually no operating capital. It started with an idea and a passion. Obviously, ideas can’t pay your expenses, but as long as you have an unrelenting never-give-up attitude, no obstacle can stand in your way.
But those rules aren’t the only things you need to build a business on a shoestring budget. There are also 5 steps that you need to take while ensuring that you adhere to the rule framework outlined herein.
Step #1 — Understand Your Target Audience Implicitly
The first step in building a business on a shoestring budget is to understand your audience implicitly. Know them down to the very last detail. From their age and their gender, to their geographical location, their needs and their problems, and even their hobbies or traits. This way, you know exactly where to go and how to market to them.
The better you understand your target audience, the more likely you’ll be to succeed. Oftentimes, all it takes it getting out there and speaking to people, and if you can figure out where your audience is congregating, then you can uncover cost-effective ways of reaching them.
This isn’t about costly advertising campaigns; this is about getting to know who your customer is and what their problems and needs are so that you can help them resolve those issues with your innovative products or services. If you can understand your target audience implicitly, you can easily succeed with building a business on virtually any budget.
Step #2 — Create Raving Fans By Going The Extra Mile
The truth is that most companies don’t create raving fans. Most companies are focused solely on one thing: profits. While profits are an important part of business, there’s an intrinsic value to ensuring that the customer is happy beyond measure, which isn’t readily measurable with an ROI calculation.
People like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson knew that the customer needed to be beyond happy with the brand and its products or services, because that underlying reputation was worth more than any of the world’s marketing dollars put together. You simply can’t buy word-of-mouth advertising, yet it’s the most cost-effective way to make money in business.
When you have raving fans that are going out there to help you promote your business, over time, that business will build and it’ll succeed because consumers will know that they can trust whatever it is that you’re peddling. You simply can’t put a dollar amount on that. So you have to go out of your way for the customer every single time, even if you lose money on the transaction.
Step #3 — Set Business Goals Every Single Day
Want to build a business on a shoestring budget? What does that actually mean to you? When you say ‘build a business,’ what are you actually referring to? Are you talking about creating a multi-million dollar empire? Maybe even the next startup unicorn?
Whatever your long-term goals are, they need to be broken down into shorter-term goals. Set business goals on a daily basis so that you can achieve your long-term goals. People that set goals, and do it on paper, are far more likely to succeed than those that fail to do this.
Set your goals every single day. Write down what you’re looking to achieve. Take your long-term goals and break them down into milestones so that you have a moving target for the day. And, at the end of the day, assess your progress. Did you achieve everything you set out to achieve that day?
Step #4 — Network, Network, Network
The saying goes that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. While it’s easy for most people to want to take on a reclusive nature when attempting to build a business, if you’re serious about doing it with little to no money out of your pocket, then you need to network your face off.
Reach out to others, figure out how you can add value to their lives, and connect with people on a higher level. Remember, networking isn’t about what others can do for you. No. It doesn’t work that way. You have to find ways to help them. That value will come back to you tenfold, but don’t expect it to happen right away.
Nearly 75% of all wealthy people spend at least 5 hours a month networking. For the people that are struggling? Only about 10% actually do this. If you’re serious about making money, getting rich or succeeding in business to any degree, network as ferociously as possible.
Step #5 — Track, Analyze and Improve Your Approach
In business, the details matter. The problem? Too often, people aren’t thinking about the details; they’re merely thinking about day-to-day financial survival. However, it’s important, if you’re serious about making traction on a virtually-non-existent budget, to track and analyze everything that you do and to improve your approach.
If you see that something is working, scale it out. Follow the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20-Rule, which states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. If you track and analyze everything you do, you’ll find it easier to discover which of your efforts are producing the biggest results.
In business, you have to constantly be improving your approach. Use focus groups by quizzing family, friends, customers, employees or anyone else that you can find, and ask them to objectively to assist you with things like your brand identity, web presence, marketing tactics and so on. This way, you can refine and improve without breaking the bank.