Take the Leap
GET PREPPED TO LAUNCH YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Step No. 1: Do your research.
The first question you should always ask yourself before starting a small business is, “is there a need for my service or product?” If the answer is yes, great! If the answer is no, you’ll need to adjust your business idea, a bit. A great way to do this is build out an ol’ fashioned mind map.
Mind Map Instructions: Start with your idea or business name in the center of the page and create branches off of it with words or services associated with your product. Keep building off these words to create an entire web of your business idea. The bigger the Mind Map, the more inspired you’ll become.These words and ideas will help you discover how to make your business unique and will also be helpful when refining your pitch!
Next, you’ll want to research your competition locally and abroad. This will help you define your business and find one-of-a-kind ways to provide your future customer/clients a better experience! Some good questions to ask are:
How are they pricing their product/service?
What do you like about their logo and branding and how could it improve?
Is their messaging consistent and clear? Do you fully understand what they are offering?
What sets them apart from the other competitors?
What makes their product/service desirable in the eyes of the customer?
Another question you’ll want to mull over is if you’ll have a Brick + Mortar location, an online shop, or both. Most business can be done exclusively online now, which is a great way to launch your business, without the extra overhead costs. If you’re in the food industry and require a storefront, do some research on the cost per square foot in the neighborhoods you’re interested in being located. Write down everything you’ll need at your store or brainstorm how you want your website set up. Whether your business is a physical or digital location, it’s important to create a unique experience for your customers and clients!
Step No. 2: Time to get those finances in order!
This step is never fun for us right-brained folks. However, there’s no better way to get sleep at night than to have your finances organized. Before quitting your nine-to-five job, you’ll want to save up some doe. In every business, there’s always slow times. The all-knowing Dave Ramsey suggests having a three to six month emergency fund that covers all your expenses from rent to your electricity bill. This will provide peace-of-mind when transitioning to running your small business full-time.
You will also want to write a list of all your overhead costs. Whether it be buying the espresso machine for your new coffee shop or saving up some money for Facebook ads, you’ll want to be aware of the exact amount you’ll need to start your business. This will give you a number to give an investor, the bank, or yourself. It’s vital to have financial goals and to keep track of every penny spent and saved. Also, hold off on the extra costs. At Coast to Coast Studio, we operated our business out of coffee shops for about a year until we had the funds to get our own office. All goods things come in time!
Before the next step, find an accountant or a friend who is financially savvy to help you figure out how to register your business in a way that will be the most lucrative for you! This is so important to make sure you’re setting your biz up for a successful future. Which leads us to...
Step No. 3: Get ready for lots of paperwork.
First, pick your business name. Make sure it’s clear, catchy, and has lasting power. You’ll want the name to be relevant for years to come, so choose wisely! Once you’ve settled on a name, it’s time to register your business! This somehow always seems intimidating and stressful, but it should be exciting! You’re finally starting the business of your dreams, give yourself some credit!
The best way to do register your business is to call your state department and have them walk you through the process. This is a great way to ensure you are doing everything properly and that you aren’t missing anything.
Here’s a handy legal list of what you’ll need to do:
Register your business name
Make sure name isn’t taken or committing trademark infringement
Register your business as a legal entity (research which type will best benefit your business)
Apply for an Employer Identification Number aka EIN
Get the appropriate licences and/or permits
This process looks way scarier than it actually is. Once you start checking off this list, you’ll feel a million times lighter. Finalizing all the official paperwork makes your business legit – time to pop some champagne!
Step No. 4: Establish your values, goals, and dream client.
You’ve done your research, your business is paper-official, and you have your finances sorted, now what? It’s finally time to establish who you are and what you do. Defining your business is no easy task. You’ll have to dig deep to discover what sets you apart, who your dream customer is, and what you personally stand for.
For example, here at Coast to Coast Studio, our mission is to help small businesses grow through carefully-crafted designs, including timeless logo and brand design, effective marketing collateral, and modern, user-friendly websites. We both value local, small business more than we can explain and it’s our passion to work with these individuals to set them up for success. Who’s our dream client? Someone who’s passionate about what they do, serious about growing their business, and easy to work with (responsive, organized, inspired, etc.)
Once you know who you are, it makes it easier to find those potential clients and customers. It also serves as a great reminder when you hit a wall. Getting burnt out? Take a walk, drink a cup of coffee, and look at your mission statement to remind you why you took the leap.
We love this fill in the blank “positioning statement” developed by the brilliant copywriter, Aaron Wrixon. Fill this out and hang in your workspace, so you can always see it.
At [company name] we work with [your ideal client] to [benefits-focused outcome of your services]. We do this by [things you do that demonstrate you’re not bullshitting].
Step No. 5: Have your logo and website professionally designed.
Alas, we’ve arrived at the final step, and the most exciting one, in our opinion. It’s time to have your branding professionally designed! Why get it professionally designed? It’s so important to get your branding right from Day One. You want it to be memorable, consistent, and not look like it was crafted in your parent’s basement. First impressions are everything, and the truth is that people will either accept or reject your business before knowing what you do as soon as they see your logo.
This is the best investment you will make. Having a solid brand will not only gain trust, but it will increase sales. How many times have you bought an item just because you loved the packaging? Every walked past a storefront with an amazing logo and had to go inside to check it out? Have you ever wanted business cards you felt so proud of you wanted to hand them out to everyone you came in contact with? Great branding based on your goals and values is guaranteed take your business to new heights (and way past your competitors.)
Your website should also be a reflection of your branding. The colors, logos, typography, and more should all match to show people you’re the real deal. Creating a user-friendly website is crucial to keep people on your domain. If your customers can’t figure out what you do or your photos are loading too slowly, they will hop ship and spend their money elsewhere. It pays off to have an inviting website that creates an unforgettable experience for your potential clients.
At the end of the day, your business can only be successful if you put in the work. It’s hard work, but totally worth every second. Your company can only be as successful as you make it. The recipe to success is to put in the hours, invest in good branding, stay organized, and market yourself wisely. So, are you ready to take the leap?