You have an idea. The entrepreneurial spark is burning and you’re wanting to move forward. Here is some encouragement + basic steps to putting that idea into a business.
Starting a business can be scary, risky, terrifying, (insert any other impending doom adjective here), but it can also be thrilling, empowering, FUN, and energizing. Don’t get me wrong; every business will have an aspect to it that you don’t love, but if you’re building a business based on something that you’re passionate about, it’s worth it. There is plenty of space in the world for your very own brand of creativity.
You may not make any money. You may fail. You may have many sleepless nights. You may have to work elsewhere while you’re building your dream company. If that doesn’t deter you, then keep on reading.
Before any of these steps below, research, research, research! Find out everything you can about your product or service. Then, start small with these steps:
+ HAVE A PLAN +
1. Write a business plan: this doesn’t sound sexy, but believe me, it’s worth it. When you force yourself to really think through things like, “Who is your target market? What is their age? Who are the nearest competitors?” it really makes you consider all aspects of your business and narrow down all the big ideas.
+ NAME THAT BIZ +
2. Come up with a business name: I put this step after the business plan because who your ideal client is can help you figure out a business name that speaks to that market. I would encourage you to choose something that is significant to you and reminds you daily why you’re doing what you’re doing.
+ CAN I SEE YOUR LICENSE AND REGISTRATION PLEASE +
3. Check local and state regulations for your type business AND get the proper licensing: some states require special licenses (like…ya know…doctors and stuff. And contractors). Be sure to research your biz. Figure out what type of company you should become (sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.) and register your business with your local government.
+ ASK FOR HELP +
4. Get some help: your local community college, a business coach, another business owner (probably not a competitor), a family member or friend that owns a business. It doesn’t have to be someone in the same type of business that you’re looking to start. Any insight into how they got up and running is valuable.
+ BRAND IT +
5. Get your branding nailed down: branding is the way you’re going to wrap the gift of your business. It’s more than choosing colors, fonts, and a logo; it’s about the people that you’re marketing to, the things you want to say about your business, the clients you’re trying to attract…it’s all part of how you brand your business. It can be time consuming, and will probably require an investment, but if you get it right, it’s a powerful tool.
+ TO MARKET, TO MARKET +
6. Build a website & market you business! Social media has changed the face of marketing, and this can work positively for you because you can do a lot for free or very inexpensively. Twitter, FaceBook, InstaGram, Google, Houzz (if you’re in interior design like I am), a website, Pinterest, YouTube–these platforms just scratch the surface of what is possible online. You can drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with everything, so when you start, choose 3 online platforms, one of them being a website FOR SURE. Find a platform that is mobile-friendly because most people will view your website on their phone. WordPress (.org, not .com) is a great tool, and you can buy pre-made templates if you’re about as good at coding as I am (as in: terrible).
+ PUT THE FUN IN FUND +
7. Get yourself separate business bank accounts. Keep your personal finances and your business finances TOTALLY SEPARATE. Then, keep track of your money: hang on to receipts, track your mileage when you drive for anything business related, hire a bookkeeper when necessary (which may be better to do sooner than later). This is so important for tax purposes. Get a good CPA (Certified Public Accountant) to help you. Use a bookkeeping software like Quickbooks that will help you track and organize your expenses and will save you a huge headache come tax time.
+ SCHOOL IS IN SESSION +
8. Keep learning: There’s always going to be a way to improve. Don’t be afraid to tweak or change things that aren’t working or could be working better.
+ BE YOUR AWESOME SELF +
This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point. I have often thought about one of the things that can deter people from putting their ideas into action: there are already so many ___________ (interior designers, authors, musicians, restaurant owners, ventriloquists, fill in the blank with your Big Idea). But guess what the world doesn’t have yet? YOU. Your own spin on the things that have been done before; your own stories told in your own voice; your own ideas of how to make the world a better place. It may have been done before, but it hasn’t been done before by you.
So go get ’em.
*This is not to be taken as legal advice. Consult local and state laws in regards to starting a business in your area.