The best part about starting a business is the beginning. To me, I am the most excited when thinking about my new venture. It's the newness of it all. There's a ton of potential and so many different directions I can take the business. It's quite literally my favorite part. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to serve my audience and help people with everything they need. However, the feeling of starting something brand new lights me up in a way not much else can. My fiance and I have probably started and re-branded about 10 different ventures during our nine years together.
Yes, we’ve been together nine years. We’re high school sweethearts.
Yes, I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve started and re-branded at least 10 companies total.
I include all of the re-branded companies in that number, as it is quite literally starting from scratch. The company may have content, social media channels, and a website all created for the brand, but when it's being re-branded, everything needs to be redone. A new logo, domain, email, marketing plan - everything. It means figuring out what the brand stands for and how we want to convey the message. It means taking an existing company and giving it an extensive face lift!
Since we've experienced this process a few times, I ended up developing a system for getting it all done in an orderly and efficient way without ever missing a step or forgetting to update something. Not every step applies to every company. Not every step necessary is included.
- Figure out what you're trying to do or offer. Are you going to offer photography or are you going to write for a living? Are you selling a product or are you going to selling a service? What exactly are you trying to promote and sell to your audience?
- Come up with a name for your venture. You need a catchy business name which represents the message you're trying to share. It can be something fun, cute, catchy, or even something super serious. It needs to represent the style and ambiance you want to convey throughout your brand and business.
- This means if you want to convey you're a super serious lawyer and can be trusted to be professional and such, then you may not want to name your business “The Fuzzy Bunny Law Office.” This is, of course, a gross exaggeration, but it’s to help illustrate my point.
- Once you’ve decided on your name, it’s time to get your domain and email. I suggest going through Gmail for Work and buying your domain there. Not only do you get the same awesome pricing, but you get the Gmail for Work for $5 a month. It's the same exact process as going through GoDaddy or any other domain/hosting service, but you also get professional email with your domain to use. As soon as you finish setting up your email and domain, get your social media channels.
- Your fourth step is to get your offer together. Test your product, get your contracts together, work on your workflow and get some offers together. Figure out where you want your clients start and end. Get product descriptions written. Work on how you want to position your offer. This way, you get this done before you start your website and are able to position it in a manner that highlights it from the start.
- Work on your website! This step is probably going to be a long one. I can’t say it’s going to be the longest, as product testing takes quite awhile. It’s going to be an intense, involved process. A website isn’t something you can say you want to do and then it just creates itself. It needs some elbow grease. You obviously don’t need to have it perfect to get it launched, but there are certain aspects which need to be on your website before you publish it.
Once you get your offer, name, domain, email, social media, website, and workflow, it’s time to actually do the paperwork. This is obviously different for every state within the US and is immensely different if you’re outside of the US. I’m located in San Diego, CA and for this state, I need a DBA or Doing Business As document. I also need a business license and sales license. These are all forms I can locate on my state secretary’s website to find where to apply at. It’s all dependent on you and where you’re located at.
Spreading the Word
You’ve started your venture, got all of the paperwork submitted, and have started making your product or offers available. It’s time to start spreading the word and letting your ideal clients know you’re open for business. If you have a blog - which I highly suggest you do, even if you claim you're not a very good writer, start getting some posts brainstormed and written out.
Start marketing. Use social media. Tell everyone you know what you’re doing. Join networking groups, Facebook groups, and Twitter chats. Get the word out. There are plenty of articles and videos on exactly how to market to your industry and ideal clients. I have a few articles about using social media to increase your presence.
If you really put your mind to it, I’m sure you can get all of this done in about a month. This is to say, most of the service-based businesses can be made by then. Don’t rush this process. Even if you are a service-based business, you can take longer than a month. Just don’t sit around and wait for it to get done. It will difficult and there are going to be times where you don’t want to do this anymore. Enjoy this process. When you start getting into the swing of things, you will probably miss this phase.