By Suzanne Mahoney, co-founder of LiBi
The current business climate in the UK
According to research conducted by iwoca, one of Europe’s largest small business lenders, almost 80 new businesses were created every hour across the UK in the first half of 2021. This surge continued, with the end of the financial year recording 810,316 new businesses.
It is predicted that an influx of start-ups will continue to infiltrate the market as we continue to venture through changing times, which begs the question: How exactly can we enter new market spaces that are already inundated with products and services?
Advice for entering a new market space
The unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19 saw entrepreneurs jumping at the opportunity to build innovative start-ups from the comfort of their own homes, and the great resignation shift has added more fuel to that fire. However, whilst innovation is commendable, many new business owners did not consider the challenges that could come with that – such as market overpopulation, copycat communication messages and cultural and societal challenges that can torpedo what seems like a good idea.
Entering a newer market space is a smart business move, but tricky waters still need to be navigated in tough climates. Original thinking alone doesn’t guarantee success, however, it’s important for budding entrepreneurs to not lose faith – it can be done!
Last year, we entered a new market space when we launched a first-of-its-kind eCommerce platform, ‘LiBi’, which allows hotel guests to buy products they see, try or interact with during their stay.
To encourage others to take a leap of faith, I have compiled a list of pointers and advice for launching a new business into a competitive marketing space.
Believe in your business!
First and foremost, you must believe in the product or service your business is offering. Ask yourself: Has it been born from a real world experience or insight that you have seen or been inspired by? Would you use its services? Have you built values that you and others can believe in? Would you genuinely recommend it to a friend? Hopefully, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes! If you aren’t fully invested in and passionate about the product you’re competing to sell, then it’s unlikely that anyone else will be.
Set realistic goals
Know what you are aiming to achieve and map out both long and short-term objectives for the future of your business, alongside making them SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound).
Spend time really exploring the ‘whats’ and, even more importantly, the ‘whys’ behind questions such as:
- What market does your business really serve?
- Why will people say ‘no’? (as much as why they will say ‘yes’)
- What timeframe will you set your brand to launch?
- How will you go about acquiring the market?
- What is going to make people listen, and what’s the head turning insight you have?
Many start-ups focus primarily on the short-term objectives, but it is vital that a 5 to 10-year business plan with key phases on the journey is developed to ensure the business is financially sustainable and viable — and perhaps investable in — in the long-term.
Have boundless courage and patience – be able to adapt to change
Once you have established the product or service you wish to sell and have set realistic and measurable goals, boundless courage and patience must ensue. Delving into a new market space takes resilience, and you will no doubt be confronted with challenges, failures and adversity along the way. Learn what works, and what doesn’t, then pick yourself up and get back out there again.
The reality is that you will be in a test and learn state pre-launch, during launch and post launch. What you might see as a failure or a problem can actually be a learning or pivot point to making your business more robust. See knock-backs as things to review and adapt around, while taking negatives as springboards for tinkering.
It’s okay to acknowledge and accept the occasions when a specific approach is not working. Budding entrepreneurs must be open-minded to new possibilities and make adaptations and necessary changes to their business and marketing strategy as and when required. Some really interesting brands and products have been discovered by mistake, or by following an almost enforced ‘plan B’.
Don’t skimp on research for your market
It’s essential to combat potential challenges arising and to build convincing sales messages by conducting extensive research on the market you seek to enter. This is a crucial area where time and resources will deliver reward. Without data to back up your argument or pitch, it’s just your opinion you are sharing. Without looking at mindsets, what matters to your audience and what is missing from their world, it isn’t logical to introduce a brand-new idea. Data and statistics should support your argument, and if they don’t, perhaps you should consider changing your idea. There is no shame in the latter — only greater proof of strength.
Be clear on your target market
Knowing who benefits from your offering will help you create a defined marketing strategy. With LiBi, we acknowledge that hotel guests will be using our eCommerce product, but our target customer is the hotelier, the resort manager and the brand owner whose products will fuel the site. Surface doesn’t cut it — you need to walk in the customer’s shoes to look at things from the perspective of what matters most. It’s so easy to fall in love with our ideas that failure to understand the real audience’s needs can result in missed make or break stages.
Surround yourself with the right colleagues
Hire people smarter than you. Find shared values. Have colleagues you enjoy spending time with. And make sure everyone is prepared and resilient for what may be tough times. When everyone is hunkered down and working together on the breakthroughs, it’s the mix of brains and culture that will make it successful, and the battles experienced along the way more rewarding to tackle.
About the Founder:
Suzanne Mahoney is the co-founder of LiBi, a new eCommerce platform that partners
consumer lifestyle brands with a network of hotels and resorts, enabling guests to buy
products they get to see, try and interact with when away from home at the click of a