The Ultimate Guide to Business Strategies for Startup Businesses

The Covid pandemic was terrible for a lot of reasons and in a lot of ways. Yet, one beneficial side effect of the pandemic was the surge in entrepreneurship. In the U.S., 2021 alone saw the launch of around 5.4 million new small businesses.

Of course, there is a vast gulf between launching your startup business and achieving solid business growth and sustainable revenue. For that, you need solid business plans and achievable business strategies.

If you’re not feeling confident about your current business strategy or didn’t have one in the first place, keep reading for startup business strategies that can help you get your business onto solid ground.

Market Segment

One key business strategy you can’t overlook is focusing on a specific market segment. While startup business owners often think their product or service works for everyone, it doesn’t. Every product and service works best for a specific market.

It’s on the business owner and their team to identify that ideal customer. For B2C businesses, that means you pin down the demographic and psychographic features of the perfect customer.

Once you have that ideal customer profile, you look for ways to get your marketing messages in front of that market segment. Maybe that means local radio ads and TV spots, and maybe that means digital marketing.

By narrowing down to that specific market segment, though, you can focus your marketing efforts. You don’t need an ad that appeals to everyone. You just need an ad that appeals to your ideal customer profile.

That market segment also means you can direct your marketing budget into a smaller number of communication channels, which can save you money.

Referral Marketing

When you need a service or a replacement for a product you used for a long time, what’s the first thing you do? For most people, you ask your friends or family for recommendations. You want a referral for a reliable service provider or a well-made replacement product.

More to the point, you put a lot of weight on that referral because you trust that friends and family members won’t direct you to a bad product or service.

Referral marketing leverages that natural tendency to ask for and give recommendations and makes it into something a bit more formal. You can go with something as simple as a stamp on your invoices that says, “We love referrals!” On the other end of the spectrum, you can offer specific rewards for customers who make a certain number of referrals that lead to sales.

What makes referral marketing such a potent tool is that most referrals come to your store or your website as a warm lead. You get the benefit of their trust in the person who referred them. That makes referrals much more likely to make a purchase.

Branding

Far too many small businesses stop thinking about branding at about the same time that they settle on logos and their letterheads. While that kind of visual marketing collateral is certainly part of branding, it doesn’t end there.

Good branding is a lot like holistic marketing. It reaches into most parts of your business.

Brand Values

Branding generally starts with picking out what values you want your business to embody. Don’t get greedy here. One or two core values are plenty for most businesses.

Core values can range from sustainability and social responsibility to customer service and innovation. The exact values you pick will depend on your business, but you should pick them early.

Brand Voice

Next, you must settle on your brand voice. That’s the overall tone or impression you want your brand to give at every touchpoint with customers. It should show up in your blog, your Twitter posts, and your ads.

Aim for a voice that dovetails with your business or, at the very least, isn’t directly contrary to your business. A pizza place can have a zany brand voice, but that generally won’t work for a financial services business.

Brand Story

People enjoy stories. It’s why they read novels, watch TV, and go to the movies. Your brand has a story.

Maybe it’s a simple story that involves you getting terrible service and vowing to do better. Maybe it’s a complicated story that involves your great-grandmother’s secret bread recipe.

The point is that people react to stories and remember them. A good brand story can make your business memorable in a good way. When people remember your brand, it helps drive business growth.

Building out your brand from day one gives you a leg up on other startups that don’t even start until they’ve been in business for a few years.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing was, years ago, just a piece of a business’s marketing efforts. These days, digital marketing is a business strategy in its own right.

Billions of people go online every single day to look for products, find services, and, yes, for entertainment. That means your business must meet them where they go. 

At a minimum, every business needs a website. If nothing else, it serves as a kind of validation that the business is a legitimate concern.

It’s also a place where you can showcase products, talk about your brand, and even offer e-commerce options so people can buy now.

Other areas you shouldn’t neglect include SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media. Keep a tight rein on your social media presence, because a misstep there can torpedo a brand nearly overnight.

Picking Business Strategies

Picking the right business strategies depends on the nature of your business and market conditions.

For example, it is an exceedingly rare business that can get by without employing digital marketing. Yet, many businesses do get by without settling on their brand for several years.

Referral marketing is a powerful tool, but it works best for local businesses and businesses that sell high-ticket products or services. Focusing on a specific market segment, though, that applies to almost every business.

Looking for more tips? Check out the posts in our Business and Marketing sections.