Do you have an idea you want to get off the ground? Running your own successful business is one of the most satisfying ways to earn a living, but even the most brilliant concept faces a tough journey. The economic climate, market competition and the challenge of reaching an audience can all put enormous pressure on fledging start-ups.

On average, fewer than half of all businesses survive forfive years or more. That’s a sobering statistic but it couldn’t happen to you, right? Before you put your fingers in your ears and continue on your merry way, it’s worth considering that each one of those failures believed that they had a strong concept for a business at the beginning.

To avoid becoming one of the dreaded statistics, there are some key steps which will help your start-up. Follow these five suggestions below and your chances of survival will rocket.

  1. Create a digital presence

It’s never too soon to start building your online resources, regardless of the industry you’re in. Even if you plan on having bricks-and-mortar premises, putting together a website and driving online traffic is critical to your success. If creating content and writing compelling text isn’t your strength, enlist the help of an SEO agency. They can help you to write good-quality content which will help push you up the rankings on Google and other search engines.

  1. Figure out what your customers need

If you have a product or service you want to launch, make sure you’re certain it’s what your customers want before investing lots of time, money and effort. Opening dialogue with your target market to understand what they’re most interested in will help you hone your focus to become a success. Starting off small and scaling up is a model that will be far more beneficial in the long run.

  1. Focus on repeat business and not just new customers

You’ll find plenty of advice about how to reach your target market and attract new customers, but don’t forget about repeat business. In fact, research suggests that returning customers are even more profitable than new customers, with better conversion rates and higher spends. There are many strategies you can employ to attract repeat business: loyalty cards, discounts or even a refer-a-friend scheme. Aim for a minimum of 25% return customer rate and you’ll achieve great returns.

  1. Continue to develop your own skills

Running your own business is very demanding but don’t forget to focus on your own self-development along the way. If you don’t learn from your mistakes and take the time to review your progress, you’ll end up being your own worst enemy. Everyone has areas they need to improve on – it might be people management, or maybe it’s organisation and communication. The best houses have the strongest foundations – a principle that’s relevant to every business.

  1. Have the right team around you

It can be difficult to get staffing levels right, and very often it’s a fluid dynamic. If you don’t have enough staff, you’ll lose business due to sluggish service but conversely, have too many and you’ll be eating into your delicate profit margins. Outsourcing can be a good option, providing flexible resource as and when you need it plus the ability to scale up and down. Make sure you choose the right outsourcer, including one that fits well with your company culture.Although it can feel as if the odds are stacked against you, a methodical, well-planned and flexible approach to your business can make sure your start-up succeeds. Follow the five steps above and you’ll be on a firm footing as you move forward.