Running a business is never easy. Whether you’re in charge of a small, specialized marketing firm, a large interstate supplier, or a sole-owner personal business, there are always areas of growth to focus on and ways to improve your company. But what should be tackled first? Here are three things to start with to advance your business.

1. Revamp Your Digital Presence

In today’s internet-powered world, online branding is a vital aspect of any business. Sure, it shouldn’t matter how your website or Facebook page look, as long as you’re providing a high-quality service. Right?

Unfortunately for those who don’t like concerning themselves with their public image, it’s become more important than ever in the digital age. In a 2018 poll, nearly half of all respondents cited website design and appearance as the main influencing factor on whether they felt a company was trustworthy or not.

This makes a kind of sense; when you’re not interacting with a business face-to-face, a website might be the only indication of the quality of their work. Most people would probably trust an investment firm with a clean, welcoming lobby more than one with paint peeling from the walls (which is why many online businesses invest so much in the design of their brick-and-mortar spaces).

Digital presence is more than just a website, of course. Effective social media use across many platforms can not only increase the reach of your business but builds consumer trust and engagement (not to mention it enables an analysis of user demographics and trends).

To make the most of your online presence, consider hiring a graphic designer, or even a design team to revamp your online marketing strategy. An aesthetically pleasing brand identity that remains consistent across different media can make a huge difference in engagement that can more than make up for the initial investment.

2. Protect Your Intellectual Property

On the legal end of things, many entrepreneurs are so engaged in getting their business to grow that they overlook a key element that can help them in the long term: intellectual property protections.

Intellectual property law, also known as IP law, is a vital and time-sensitive element to address as a growing business. The different types of IP law include copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents, all of which cover different intangible property rights that companies need to avoid unfair competition or infringement.

Copyrights cover creative work, while trademarks can be registered for anything that helps people identify your brand, like logos and brand names. Trade secrets involve secret information that can give you a competitive edge in the market, and patents are temporary monopolies on inventions or design features.

The effects of addressing intellectual property protections early on can be massive. J.D. Houvener, a San Francisco patent attorney, describes it this way:

“Not every business is ready to delve into the patenting process right at the start of their venture, and that’s totally normal. But companies that wait too long can get taken advantage of by predatory businesses that traffic in stolen inventions and brand impersonation. Trademarking early to protect your brand identity and having a plan in place to protect the innovations that you bring to your field can be really crucial factors in success down the road; it’s never too early to get informed and find out your options.”

3. Set Goals

This point may seem elementary, but goal-setting is so vital and so often approached the wrong way that it had to make the list.
Yes, everyone knows that setting goals leads to success and that a lack of direction does the opposite. But effective goal-setting involves more than just stating where you want to be in 10 years: it takes strategy.
Every company should develop short, medium, and long term goals. Not only that, but each goal must be accompanied by a thought-out strategy and a budget. Goals by themselves mean nothing but paired with realistic budgeting and planning steps, they can define the path to success for any business.
Start with long term goals: think to yourself, where do I want this business to be in 5-10 years? Then figure out what medium and short term steps must be taken, what company habits must be ingrained, and what people must be in place for those things to happen. In this way, concrete goal-setting also functions to get everyone in a company on the same page and committed to the same cause.
One last word on planning and budgeting: always plan pessimistically. The planning fallacy describes the phenomenon of all major endeavors always taking longer and costing more than expected. To make sure your goals are realistic, always plan on arriving a little later, and having spent a bit more money, than you initially think.

In Conclusion

So many different factors play into a business success that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Sometimes, it can be helpful to hone in on a few areas and focus on specific improvement.
In the next stage of your business’s growth, try emphasizing a robust digital presence, an informed IP law plan, and action-oriented goal setting. All of these elements can advance your business significantly if approached in the right way.
We hope this article was helpful and conducive to your future business growth. For more like this, visit our news on women entrepreneurs.

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