There will be many things running through your brain when starting a business. That's because there are a LOT of moving parts and pieces!
There's crafting your offers - the actual things you make to sell - and all the issues that go along with that. Then, there's growing an audience and selling the thing consistently so you can get profitable, streamlining and systematizing, increasing your impact and reach and leaving a legacy (at least, if you follow the Fix This Next Business Hierarchy of Needs like I recommend!).
That's a LOT to manage!
So let's breathe and remember that running your own business is exciting and a journey you should be proud of the fact that you're even THINKING about doing this. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak. There are a lot of ups and downs. Also, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint! Do what you can as you are able.
If you're just getting started, here are five things to consider when starting your small business.
There was a time when a website was optional. Now, it's virtually an imperative. That doesn't mean it has to be expensive or flashy. A simple wordpress install - which is free on most domain hosting services - is all it takes. A place for people to learn more about you, your work, and a way to contact you for more details. Sure you can go in for more sophisticated design (I trust Tracy at Digivisual Design for almost all my branding and design work).
Your website will attract new clients, but you will also be using it to show a certain level of credibility. On your website, you can explain your experience, add testimonials as well as show past work. Can you do this on social media? Sure, but the platforms change their rules all the time! Having a place where you can have the exclusive attention of your buyers makes it easier for them and you. I don't know about you, but I'd rather drive traffic to my own site than to places where other people are also vying for my buyers' attention!
Usually, I don't recommend anyone start with advertising right away. The exception is for someone that's already clear on who their Raving Fans are and how to reach them. For example, if you want to reach folks who play double-strung harp (like my client Cindy), then it might make sense to run an ad in the folk harp journal, because that's where your Raving Fans are likely to be.
You need a budget to advertise. Whether you do it yourself or hire a PPC service or ads manager, the ads themselves aren't free (in most cases). But advertising alone will not keep your business in the black. Your marketing budget needs to be big enough to promote your business in other ways as well.
DIY, an online tool, a bookkeeper, or a full-fledged accountant. However you slice it, you've got to track and crunch the numbers. Chaotics don't want to hear this, I know, but sticking your head in the sand will only guarantee that you continue to struggle. Find an approach that works for you (I recommend finding someone that's versed in Profit First), and stick with it. The right financial pro will help you make sense of the numbers in a way that works for you.
Your branding is the first thing customers will experience - even before your website. Branding isn't just your logo. Among other things, it's how you show up, the words you use, and your communication style.
If you take the time to do the work before you jump into a logo design, you'll be in better shape. All your brand elements go together to create a full picture of who you are, what your company's about and what it stands for in the marketplace. Get it right and your Raving Fans will remember you - and may even want to adorn themselves with your logo! Get it wrong and they may remember you for all the wrong reasons.
Licensing & Legal
Have you considered any legal implications to your idea? Are there any licensing laws that you need to follow? You need a license to sell alcohol, be an attorney, or offer health care services. Are there contracts you need or other legal documents that are necessary for the work you're doing? What about your business structure? Are you going to default to a Sole Prop, or would an LLC or S-Corp be a better fit for the work you do?
Before launching, it’s always worth getting in touch with a legal adviser to talk through your idea and check if there are any laws that you may have forgotten about. If you are worried about them hearing about your idea, you can always get them to sign an NDA so that they cannot discuss the idea with anyone else. They'll probably even draft it for you!
This list is not exhaustive. these are just a few things to consider when starting your business. Try not to overwhelm yourself and be more effective with your time. Do your research before launching and try to be a thorough as possible. Save up as much as you can before you launch as the more money you have the less pressure it will be for you to earn a profit right away.
Need help? Level One of the Creative Freedom Incubator is a great place to start. Not ready to make an investment? Then sign up for the FREE Rising Tide learning library and get access to a bunch of training and tools to help you get your business off to a strong start.