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Approximately 543,000 businesses are started each month in the United States, according to Forbes, but an even greater number shut down. That’s because starting and sustaining a business are two separate things altogether. And if you want to succeed, you need to take certain steps to increase your chances of success. Following are a few of them.

Write a “To-Do” List

Some tasks you should include in your “To-Do” list are getting the appropriate licenses for your business, creating a business plan, finding a supplier if you are selling products and not producing them yourself, and contacting a bank to get financing. With respect to financing, you’ll also likely need to create a sales forecast for your business. Whatever the required steps for your business, writing down tasks prompts you to act instead of just dreaming about it.

Research Market

You’ll want to research the industry to determine if the market is large enough to sustain your business. You’ll also need to research key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses versus your own, which will help you determine the best entry strategy. For example, do you want to be the value leader or offer more premium products? Market research will also help you discover what factors influence your target audience’s buying decisions.

Create a Website

A website is essential in today’s economy as most people search for products and services online. You can also start generating your first few leads with a website. With any website, it’s best to have one designed by a professional. It’ll cost a little more money, but you’ll more than make up for it with the increased traffic it elicits.

Decide Best Advertising Vehicles

When determining how to best advertise your business, focus on the types of media in which your target customer sees. If your customers are predominately females with incomes above $100,000, for example, you’ll want to advertise in publications that reach that target group. You should also hire a talented SEO company, which will use various keywords to maximize your online exposure.

Constantly Monitor Business

No market stays the same forever, plus technology changes. Another concern is that all products have certain life cycles, which include the introduction, growth, maturity and decline stages. In the maturity stage, for example, you may have to add new features or find new uses for your product to better sustain it, according to Quick MBA. It’s also imperative to constantly monitor your consumers’ needs and wants, which enables you to make timely adjustments to your product mix.