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Every budding entrepreneur has to consider how they are going to turn ideas on paper into a viable business model. If you’re selling a product, achieving success isn’t just about taking orders. There are so many processes that take place long before that item reaches the shelves or arrives at a customer’s house. Logistics play an integral part in the smooth running of any business.
If you own a startup or you’ve experienced logistical nightmares in the past, focusing on getting from the start of the process to the end as quickly and seamlessly as possible will stand you in good stead. If this isn’t your area of expertise or you’re looking for pointers to get you back on track, here is some sage advice to take on board.
Establishing clear objectives
Confusion is a major cause of disruption at every stage of the process from making products to selling them to customers. The most important thing for a business owner or manager to do is establish clear objectives and ensure that every single person who is involved in the business understands their role. If you know exactly what you want to do, this will help you design a strategy that delivers the desired outcomes. If you’re using the example of getting a product to market, you’ll need to know what’s going on at every stage. Where are you sourcing the materials from? Who is in charge of the manufacturing phase? How are you going to get the products from A to B? Your business plan needs to provide answers to all these questions. If you’re a new business, it’s also essential to consider how you would cope with growth and to work on plans to expand if sales are soaring.
Focusing on the customer
You may have a host of business goals, but at the end of the day, your success will be dependent on being able to give customers what they want. When you’re making plans, always bear your customer in mind and ensure that you can deliver on promises. If you’re offering next day delivery, for example, you need to have effective plans in place to ensure that the client is going to receive that item the next day.
If you can’t keep your promises, this could affect your reputation, and it may also steer your clients in the direction of your competitors. Do some research and make sure you have the means to offer a service before you advertise it.
Concentrating on logistics from the start
When you’re launching a startup, it’s easy to get carried away with marketing, designing a website and trying to get your name out there, but a bottleneck could spell the end before you’re even up and running. At the beginning of the journey, you’ll need to make important decisions about how you’re going to manage aspects of the business, including the logistics.
Are you going to take charge of getting products from one place to another or are you going to look to outsource this to a logistics firm or a third party organization? You could invest in a fleet of vans or trucks, buy a load of bikes or even look for specialist vehicles like a crude oil tanker for sale, or you could enlist the services, manpower and vehicles of an established firm.
Weigh up the options and consider what works best for you and your business. If you’re starting very small, you may not need external help, but outsourcing may be an option you consider as the business expands. If your initial sales are good, plan ahead. You want to strike while the iron is hot and ensure you can move quickly if you do have an influx of orders. Get quotes from multiple companies and be prepared to negotiate. Competition can often drive prices down.
Preparing in advance
Most businesses have a busy time of the year when sales spike, and it’s all hands to the pumps. To ensure that you’re able to make hay while the sun shines and prevent delays and disruptions, it’s essential to make sure that you’re ready to move when those orders come flooding in. Consider the Christmas rush, for example.
If you know you’re going to be particularly busy from November onwards, don’t wait until the festive period arrives to start getting ready. Even simple tasks, such as putting boxes together and cutting pieces of bubble wrap can make all the difference further down the line. When you’ve got orders to pack and send out, being prepared will save time and increase your chances of being able to provide customers with the standard of service they expect.
Linking logistics to branding
If you’re delivering an online order, don’t focus all your attention on getting that product to the customer on time. It’s also advantageous to take advantage of the chance to promote your brand. Consider what that package looks like when it arrives and how it reflects your business. Branding on labels and parcel bags, for example, can help to create a more sophisticated aesthetic, which could increase sales.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, it pays to focus on logistics from the outset. It’s not enough to have a groundbreaking idea, and you should never assume that a great product will sell itself. As the company boss, it falls to you to ensure that you can deliver a service that will impress your customers and ensure they come back to you over and over again.
Prioritize logistics from the beginning, consider your options and take advantage of the opportunity to promote your brand. Consider your customer at all times and plan ahead wherever possible to ensure that you can cope with fluctuations in demand and potential obstacles. If you’re ready for any eventuality and you have clear objectives in place, this should reduce the risk of logistical nightmares. Learn from your mistakes, take advice from those who have been in a similar situation and be prepared for anything the uncertain world of business could throw at you.