Revenue and profitability both count in a business, but they don’t have to be the all-inclusive focus, especially in a startup. If I spent my time fixating on numbers in a spreadsheet, I’ll continually be stressed out because the needle isn’t moving. Moving that needle takes time, and is done by building traction, directing traffic toward you and closing deals.
Then there are the big-picture things, like customer acquisition and retention strategies, an army of influencers, brand reputation and a value proposition for the target audience. If I focus solely on revenue, I’ll actually miss many opportunities to develop those long-term revenue streams at the expense of—ironically— profitability, which only comes from focusing on those big-picture things.
Here’s how redirecting your focus on a few different areas can not only help build a sustainable business, but also generate those revenues that you want and need.
Focus on Customer Acquisition and Retention
Michael Gokturk, Founder and CEO of Payfirma, suggests that “it’s important not to view the target audience as a bunch of dollar signs out there to sweep together into a bag. Instead, think of your customers as tender plants that need nurturing, including feeding and watering, if you want to attract and keep them. This care involves conversing with them, asking questions, and listening.”
In other words, you’ll be able to hit those numbers by focusing on the concerns of the people that actually bring you revenue. Put your best thought processes and energy into understanding your customer base and what they want, and build processes that address customer acquisition and retention tactics. To my surprise, doing so taught me a lot about what I wanted to achieve with my startup.
For me personally, had I focused only on revenue, I would not have that wisdom, and also would have missed out on reaching and retaining customers.
Focus on Influencers
It’s never too early to start seeking out people who can evangelize your cause to other audiences. In case the term is new to you, influencers are people who wield significant clout with followers online and through social media, maybe even with those in your target audience. You need influencers who want to talk about why you are the best choice for that particular business segment.
Taking the time to locate and build great relationships with influencers is what separates companies that do okay and those that achieve phenomenal results. When you find influencers you can work with, provide them with something that interests them, like a sample product or exclusive information you can afford to share. If they’re excited by what you’re doing, they will work on your behalf to provide you with additional traffic that you can then convert to sales.
I have found that getting influencers on my side has yielded—and continues to yield—incredible returns.
Focus on Reputation Creation and Management
It’s often said that your reputation precedes you, which means that people have already formed an opinion of you or your product before even using it. In terms of winning the marketing and conversion half of your battle, this can be great. It can, however, be devastating if you’re preceded by a horrible brand reputation that is killing your business.
As a startup, I created my brand’s reputation by working hard on defining attractive attributes, and then living up to them. My focus on shaping a reputation for social responsibility, value, transparency and ethics helped to attract customers that appreciated those attributes. Once I established this reputation—and this part is incredibly important—my focus could not waver.
Reputations do carry the business on their own. It’s up to you to continually manage your reputation by consistently doing great work, and by regularly checking on what others are saying, which may or may not affect how your brand is perceived.
Focus on Value Proposition
Your business’ value proposition, or what it brings to the table that no one else does, isn’t something that should be misunderstood, especially by you. If your pursuit of revenue is getting in the way of understanding what your business is supposed to offer, then it’s time to take a step back and reassess what you bring to the table.
Why? Because providing value by doing something for others is what generates long-term profitability, and thus keeps you in business. When I went from focusing on creating a product that would make money to one that would actually solve a problem my target audience was having, sales soared. Running a company that espoused social responsibility and cared about everyone, including customers, employees and society, is what my customers appreciated the most.
Even better is when you have a business idea that makes the world a better place. What better way to enhance your business’ value proposition than by starting a business that celebrates things like environmental sustainability or enabling people throughout the world to raise their lots through dignified work. Companies that didn’t dwell on revenue and put others first have often been financially rewarded for their efforts.
All of these points of focus are really about ramping up for revenues that will come down the line and continue flowing, but only if they are done correctly. This upfront work is necessary to achieve your real focus, which is your business’ sustainability. The result will be a continuous flow of revenue, rather than those fast bucks up front that dry up quickly.