We don’t have to tell you—it’s difficult to find innovative ideas to get your business off the ground.
It’s probably the reason why so many startups and small business fail within the first few years. They just didn’t have enough innovative ideas to get their business up off the ground.
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Luckily, that doesn’t always have to be the case. We asked some experts in the small business arena what innovative ideas they used to get their business off the ground.
Justine Beauregard, Owner of Mirelle Marketing
One stand-out tactic that I see as effective for many of my clients (which has also worked for my business) is to form strategic partnerships. Networking is such an underutilized way to grow brand awareness for little to no investment.
I have almost exclusively built my business on referrals, as have many of my clients. Find individuals who work in or around your industry offering complementary products and services. Even just a few referrals a year can quickly turn into thousands in revenue.
And if you know you’re delivering a great customer experience, use it to your advantage! Try offering a percentage off of each customer invoice in exchange for a referral or their participation in a case study. You’ll be surprised that even 2-5% can be compelling enough to incite action.
John Turner, CEO & Founder of QuietKit
One of the best ways to get your business off the ground starts before you even launch, which is to get obsessed with the problem you’re hoping to solve with your business.
This isn’t the same as obsessing about your solution (that comes later). It’s more a focus on identifying the broad problem you want to work on and digging into all the intricacies of that problem.
If you really, truly become knowledgeable in the problem you want to work on, the work you put forward will be more focused on the things to help you succeed.
You’ll have a better sense of where to go to find users or customers, and you’ll know exactly how to communicate to those people to get them to help you.
Russab Ali, Founder of SMC Digital Marketing
I own a digital marketing agency that has made $500M for its clients. It was very difficult to start off, so here is a tip I used to save a TON of money to help my business get rolling.
I tapped my friends for discounts where they worked or for hand me downs.
Friends at the Apple store could often get a 30% discount on products, as could other employees at other firms. This saved me a large percentage on costs for technology.
For other companies that I did not have a friend working in, I would ask my friend for their used items. It was cheaper for me and I knew it was taken care of well because I knew the person I was buying it from.
Shaun Walker, Creative Director & Co-Founder of HEROfarm
Firstly, get together with like-minded people and network as soon as possible.
Good ideas will flow more readily and your team will find ways to make them work. Every good entrepreneur needs a solid idea, but collaboration, especially in this evolving economy, will facilitate more creativity and improve ideas.
Secondly, put everything in writing. An airtight agreement that lays out the scope of work, the “if this happens,” and the payment conditions is worth its weight in gold. It can make a business relationship so much easier by letting each party know where they stand – and on what leg.
Handshakes, winks, and verbal agreements aren’t worth much these days. You must protect yourself and your company as much as possible.
Mikhael Levkovsky, Head of Engineering of Spoil
When we were first starting Spoil, our model was a little different. We were an eCommerce website where you entered some information about your recipient, and we would curate the gift and send it out.
When validating Spoil however, we took Paul Graham’s advice and did things that didn’t scale. We would actually go to the shopping mall ourselves and pick up the items ourselves and paid cost up front.
Hacky and inefficient? Sure. But it allowed us to move forward and validate our product and eventually get into YC.
Anthony Franciosi, Founder of Honest Marijuana Company
To generate buzz about your business and maintain your current customers’ interest in your company, write informational blog posts about the latest news, developments, and culture surrounding your industry.
We consistently post new articles related to the benefits of marijuana use, pot politics, history, ganja growing, the cannabis culture, and lifestyle (how cannabis helps with exercise, dating, entertaining, etc) to keep our customers interested in returning to our blog.
In addition, we also write exclusive blog posts for other media outlets to post, which all contain links back to our blog posts and website. This strategy has really helped us grow traffic to our website and build our customer base.
Jenny Kile, Founder & CEO of Kardtects.com
One way that has helped me to get Kardtects building cards off the ground, literally, was to do some unconventional PR.
Since my goal was to promote back to basic play with our exclusive building cards and to demonstrate how they are specifically designed to make building card houses easier, I felt I would build a ‘Record Breaking Card Tower’.
I did build an over 30-foot freestanding card tower using a scissor lift to show Kardtects are the Ultimate Building Card, and for everyone. The ‘stunt’ was noteworthy and was used to propel Kardtects forward.
I feel anything you can do that is out of the ordinary can be used to gain interest towards your product/business is beneficial.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
If you’re ready to get your business off the ground, you need to incorporate or form an LLC.
This allows you to protect your personal assets with liability protection. It also helps saves money on taxes and establishes credibility with consumers.
In addition to incorporating, you should also file for a trademark application for your business name, logo, or design. Trademarks allow you to claim your name and protect your unique business identity.
By retaining your original works of authorship, you’re able to keep anyone else from plagiarizing or copying the assets.
Al Levi, Author of The 7-Power Contractor
As a startup, there may feel like there are a million things to do. But, there are really 7 main things to get covered:
- Planning Power! which is learning how to work on the right things, at the right time in the right way.
- Operating Power! which is documenting the policies and procedures it takes to run your company.
- Financial Power! is learning how to do a budget so you can see what your assets (the stuff you own) vs. liabilities (what you owe others) is doing.
- Staffing Power! is making existing staff better by finding the holes in what they know.
- Marketing Power! is the right amount of calls (foot traffic depending on your type of business), from the right customers at the right time.
- Selling Power! which is selling at the correct selling price which is determined by your budgeting process.
- Sales Coaching Power! is the ability to coach great sales performance and reward on money they create vs. money out of your pocket.
Kathryn Brooks, CEO of ShesHerOwnCEO
Here are some business-launching and personal success tips for the aspiring entrepreneur:
1. Participating in a formal mentoring program is a powerful way to develop self awareness and emotional quotient. Meeting with a mentor on a regular basis allows for a big-picture discussion about career path that can be distilled down into specific and actionable plans.
2. Working late gives me a competitive advantage. Sending emails, prioritizing activities for the next business day, designing client communications, and general strategizing late at night helps me to sleep better and feel in control for the next day!
Jean Edouard Gustave, Art Director & Partner at Antean Studios
Since I’m not from Jacksonville, I tackled other ways to position our company in front of the community without forcing them to buy from us. I came up with a workshop idea entitled “Propeurbs” for creative entrepreneurs.
It’s a free workshop where participants learn to create a business plan, define their brands, proper use of social media and effective ways to raise capital for their businesses. There’s no catch.
Because we give them free help, most of them feel obligated to hire us and see us as a leader and expert in the field. It’s an excellent way to build a community.
The number one thing is not to sell as everyone else is selling. Find out what your community needs and if you can afford to help them with it, do not hesitate.
Travis Bennett, Founder of Studio Digital Web Design
When you’re just starting out, my advice is to find a complementary business you can rent a handful of desks from.
That way, when a customer visits, they won’t see you as a startup operating from your living room.
You’ll trigger their subconscious with a busy office environment, and even after telling them you’ve only got a small team, they’ll be more inclined to work with you.
Connie Vanderzanden, President of Accounting Department Inc.
Alternative Funding Options
When I expanded my business, I used my car as collateral to secure a business line of credit. Look at what you already own and start a conversation with your local banker.
Businesses I have worked with have had better success with credit unions and local banks for funding options than big national banks.
Get to know and work with your natural tendency and habits. What your tax professional or your Aunt that’s a bookkeeper recommends may not be the right solution for you because they think differently. Do you like paper? Then don’t fight it. Find a way to keep your receipts neat and organized.
If you love tech, then you are in luck because there are ton of tools that you can tap into that will help the process. It can be as simple as snapping a picture and sending it to Dropbox, Evernote, or GDrive.
Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd
Build frugal habits: Since launching Cheekd, I’ve changed my lifestyle to meet my budget and focus on my needs rather than wants.
I use the shared bike service, Citi Bike, which costs $149 a year, rather than paying for the subway or cabs.
Get a flexible side hustle: I work some other side jobs to make money for day-to-day expenses and to reinvest into the business. I’ll walk dogs, house sit, water plants, and buy discounted items and sell them online.
Some jobs are available through TaskRabbit and Jobble. Others are found on Craigslist or through personal connections.
Get paid to share your opinion: Twice a day I check Craigslist, bulletin boards, and focus-group apps like Dscout looking for money-making opportunities.
Keywords help guide my search – product test, app test, and focus group – and a few hours of work can be worth hundreds with the right opportunity.
Mayer Dahan, CEO of Prime Five Homes
The best way to grow your business is to give back at least 10% of your profits to charity.
In 2013, I founded my own charity, The Dream Builders Project because I wanted to make a bigger difference in the community. As the charity has grown, my business has also grown exponentially.
The reasons for giving back to grow your business include:
- By hosting charity events, I am able to reach a larger network of people who I could potentially be doing business with.
- As the charity has grown, more publicity is generated. Because my name and the business name are continually associated with charity, it is helping to get more attention for both the company and the nonprofit
- The more you give back, statistics have shown the better you feel! If you are feeling great in your personal life, that often translates to more productivity and good things happening in your business life!
- Instead of spending money on marketing, Mayer and Prime Five Homes spends their marketing budget on sponsoring charity events.
The most innovative ideas for your business
These are some excellent business ideas with a lot of variety. Choosing even one of these innovative ideas will help you to get your new business off the ground and on the road to success.