So you want to start a business

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By Prof. Jack Mandel
Campus News

It’s been said a small business is nothing more than work and money… too much of one and too little of the other. Do you think you have what it takes? Your key to long-term business success is the ability to find the right niche in the marketplace. Keep in mind the following considerations:

1.    IS THERE A NEED FOR YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE?
The first rule of thumb in marketing is to “find a need and fill it.” Offer a product or service not because you want to, but because your potential customers tell you they need it.

2.    ARE THERE ENOUGH POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS TO MAKE YOUR VENTURE A PROFITABLE ONE?
Before you spend time and money to get your business started, be certain that a target market exists. You must justify the location of your business. Even an internet presence does not guarantee success!

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3.    HAVE YOU MONITORED YOUR ENVIRONMENT TO YOUR COMPLETE SATISFACTION?
Take the time required to carefully investigate the community you propose to serve. Look at the growth potential of the area. Are people moving in or out? Are there many “empty-nest” families or young married couples who shop in the local stores? Make careful, first-hand observations. What about your competitors? If you’re going to offer a product or service not yet available in the community, ask yourself why others haven’t already located there. Is there a drawback you may have overlooked?

4.    CAN YOU IDENTIFY MEDIA PATTERNS OF YOUR TARGET MARKET?
Determine where and how your potential customers get their information. What is the social media choice? What local radio stations do they listen to? What newspapers do they read on a regular basis? Know the answers to these questions!

5.    HAVE YOU DESIGNED A MARKET STRATEGY WHICH WILL SET YOURSELF APART FROM OTHERS?
This important marketing term is called positioning. Positioning lets you capitalize on your strengths to attract customers. You decide what image to project in relation to what your customers want and/or expect of you. Promotional efforts become more clearly defined when you use a positioning approach. Examples of popular positioning techniques include geography (Dairy Barn stores), price (Payless), convenience (7-Eleven stores) and service (Amazon).

6.    CAN YOU SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES WHEN COMMUNICATING TO YOUR TARGET MARKET?
Communication, whether it’s written, oral, or via the internet, must have people understand exactly what you mean. Communicate your ideas in ways to make customers respond to your messages. What good is spending $200 for a newspaper advertisement announcing your opening sale if no one takes the time to read it? And remember to ask for email contacts; they can provide you with an easy way to communicate with your loyal customers.

Professor Jack Mandel has been teaching at Nassau Community College since 1978. This will be his 39th year teaching at the institution. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award granted by the New York State Association of Two-Year Colleges.

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