business successDeciding to launch a startup is an incredibly exciting period of life, filled with big dreams, and adrenaline that can fuel you working 12-hour-plus days for weeks at a time. However, take a look at the numbers, and you’ll see that only a small proportion of businesses last for five years, and many fold after just 12 months.

As such, if you want to make your career dreams come true, you must take steps to be different, and ensure your venture can stick around for the long term. Read on for some ways you can significantly increase the likelihood your startup will be a success.

Do Plenty of Research

For starters, rather than just picking an idea and jumping into a new business full of excitement but not much knowledge, you need to make sure you spend time on research first. There are many different things worth exploring. For example, start by examining what kind of products or services are currently offered in the market, to whom, how, where, when, and at what kind of price points. You should examine the competitors which are out there too, including not just direct ones, but also people that may be selling things that will compete for consumer dollars.

When researching, you may also need to investigate different types of lending options or ways to get partners or investors; legal and local council related rules and regulations; technological and manufacturing data; costs for various elements, and much more. The more research you do up front though, the less likely it is that you’ll be faced with an insurmountable problem or expense once you launch your venture.

Ensure There’s a Gap in the Market and Find a USP

Once you have this research completed, take time to think about whether there truly is a gap in the market available for you or not. You need to be sure there will be enough customers interested in your offerings. After all, there’s no point spending all the time, money and energy on setting up a business, only to find you can’t make ends meet because the target market is too limited, or there is just too much competition.

Look at the competitors in the market and find a way to create a USP  – that is, a unique selling proposition. You must develop products or services, or a customer-service strategy or another point of difference that allows your business to stand out. This might be because you cater to a need or want of consumers that is so far going unmet, or because you find a solution to a problem that no one has yet been able to solve adequately before.

success in businessDevelop a Business Plan

Next, make sure you have a detailed business plan in place before you start your business. By having this well-thought-out guide on hand, you’ll know you have thought about all the necessary elements in your business leading up to, and then after, the launch date. Creating a business plan will also help you to develop steps to follow over the months and years ahead.

This plan should cover a multitude of areas. In particular, list out exactly what you will sell and how; your USP; and the specific target market you will be serving. You need to be clear on who exactly your ideal customer is, and where, when, and how they shop, what their lifestyle is like, where they work, and much more.

Also, your plan should cover marketing, sales and customer service strategies; financial projections and cost prices; and details of partners or investors and who will be looking after each responsibility.

Keep Learning and Growing

Lastly, keep in mind that the most successful entrepreneurs over the years are always people who are committed to learning and growing continuously. To be the best business person you can, you must learn widely and openly.

In particular, focus on things like sales, marketing, product development, finance, accounting, leadership, human resources, customer service, and administration. You also need to ensure you keep developing valuable personal traits, such as resilience, problem-solving, time management, communication, and creativity.

To grow, read lots of books, blogs, newsletters and more; participate in mentoring programs; join business associations; learn from useful training and study programs; and attend relevant industry and other events. In particular, it pays to enroll in online business certificate programs where you can develop a well-rounded knowledge of business, all in the one place.