Starting Your Own Business - Simple Steps to Get StartedSep 15, 2022
Before I had a million dollar business, I had a big idea, and a desire to create a life where my time was my own, my earning potential was unlimited, and I could provide security for myself and my family, just like every woman entrepreneur I know.
I had to learn how to do it all from scratch, googling my way from one step to the next, and hoping I wasn’t missing anything important.
It's tough to know what questions to ask, because as they say "You don't know what you don't know".
That makes it SO easy to miss important details, and those mistakes can cost a ton of time and money down the road.
The goal of this workshop is to show you the critical steps you need to know to start and scale your business the right way, and build your DREAM life!
We’re going to help you do that over the next three days, and the goal for today is to tackle the problem we all run into, which is “that you just don’t know what you don’t know”.
What ARE the steps to starting a business? What are the critical things you need to do to help ensure your success and avoid the pitfalls?
It's time to cut through the confusion and overwhelm and get really clear, with our Business Builders Roadmap. No more guessing at what you need to do and when.
We've got the exact steps mapped out for you!
This is that roadmap I wished I had when I started! And it’s a game changer in helping you plan out your new business, your next steps and finding success faster.
- Find your Big Idea
This can be something you already have in mind, or something brand new you come up with. There are lots of ways to come up with or fine tune your idea. You can look for a new niche that’s emerging, look at trends, take your skills and apply them to a brand new field, look for markets that aren’t being served well, follow your passion, even check out places like kickstarter for inspiration.
Another great way to come up with an idea for a market you will really understand, is to solve your own problem.
Think about something you need, or wish existed and figure out how to serve people just like you, who need the same thing.
- Check for Competitors
There is lots of room in any market, but you have to do your research first. You want to be different and stand apart from the rest, but how do you do that if you don’t know what’s out there already?
Research your competition, see what holes there are in the service people are getting or the products. Find your advantages – there are things you can do better than they can – what are those things?
- Do your Market Research
This step will save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars down the road. It may even be the thing that saves your business and ensures your success, so don’t skip it.
We always think we know what our market wants, or we guess. But you are setting yourself up to fail if you don’t do your research on your competitors, as we just discussed, and also on your market. Find out who they are, where they are, how they speak about the problem you solve, and what they really want.
- Test your Idea
This is the secret to your success, and almost no one does it when they start a business. This is the step that would have saved thousands of women the heartache of a failed business because they had the wrong product, or the wrong market. It can also help you find funding for your business before you even launch – it’s super powerful!
- Define your Target Audience
You need to know who exactly you are selling to. And you need to go micro specific with this one. I want you to drill down until you are talking to one specific person who is your ideal customer.
You are going to use the research you came up with in your previous market research to figure out exactly who you are marketing to, where they live, what they do each day, how they feel. You want to know them like a BFF.
- Choose your Business Name
Now that you know who your market is and what they want from you, you can choose a business name that will resonate and make sense to them. You want to search for similar names online, and then secure your chosen name with official registries in your region, and get your website url and social media handles.
- Create your Brand Identity
Now it’s time to design a logo that will appeal to your target market, choose brand colors that make sense for your business and market, and identify your fonts.
This is also where I would sit down and think through what you want the feel of your brand to be. Because that’s part of your branding too.
If your brand was a person what would they be like? Sophisticated? Silly? Fun and casual?
Identifying your brand personality is a great way to create a touchstone that you can come back to over and over again to decide if a new product, service or process is in line with your brand.
- Find your Secret Sauce
This is my number one go-to exercise to get a quick boost in my business, and create solid longer term strategies for growth. Basically you want to sit down with a notebook and work through four things.
You want to look at your business strengths – these are the things that you do or can do better than anyone else in your market.
Then you look at your weaknesses – what do you not do so well or lack that others have?
Then my favorite – look for opportunities – opportunities in your market that you can take advantage of, opportunities in your business that you haven’t been maximizing etc.
Finally look at the threats. These are things that you likely have little control over, like changing market conditions, or new competition entering your area – but you still need to identify them and figure out how to lessen the impact of those threats.
- Create your Business Plan
Yes I said it. Look I know it can be scary – we’ve all seen the templates for the 20 page business plans, and if that’s your thing, it’s a great idea to work through to finest details that way. But any business plan is better than no business plan. So even if it’s one page, get it down on paper.
I was recently introduced to the idea of a living business plan sketched out on a whiteboard. Rather than mapping out your plans and putting them in a drawer to forget about – keep it simple, get it sketched out on the whiteboard and keep it where you can see it, and update it as needed.
- Choose your Business Structure
This one is going to vary wildly depending on where you live and what your situation is. In most places the three broad and basic choices are a sole proprietorship – where your business and your personal finances are part of the same entity, a partnership – where you are in business with someone else, or a corporation where your company is legally separate from you personally and your personal assets are somewhat protected.
There are lots of variations on those three, and many reasons you may want to do one or the other. This is something I would suggest you do a bit of research on for your country, and then speak to a lawyer and or accountant to get solid advice for your specific business.
- Get Registered
Once you have decided which business structure is right for you, you will need to get it registered. Again this varies by region and business, but in most cases you will need to register the name somehow, get a business licence, get a tax id etc.
This is another great time to talk to your accountant about what you need, and touch base with your local chamber of commerce or small business association to get the links to register a business in your area.
- Get Setup Online
No matter what type of business you run, you need some kind of presence online. It’s the first place most people will go to check you out, see reviews, find out how to get to your location and just get to know a bit more about your business. Depending on what your business is, your website may or may not need to be complicated. In some cases, a simple landing page or one page website will be enough. But whatever you have, make sure it’s professional looking, geared toward your market, and easy to navigate.
- Create your Marketing Plan
This is another one, like the business plan, that can sound daunting. And it can also be incredibly in depth and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like the business plan, any marketing plan is better than no marketing plan.
If you don’t have something mapped out, you will end up being reactive, missing opportunities, and spending more than you need to for lesser results. So grab a calendar and start with that – map out holiday promotions, plans for slower periods to boost sales and anything else you can see coming up in the next 6 months.
- Secure Funding
There are many ways to do this, but in the end, the majority of women founders tend to either bootstrap their business with their own money, or borrow from family or friends.
There are other options, and how good they are for you will vary by situation, but before you use credit cards, make sure you explore options like line of credit, investors and even crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and iFund women – and take advantage of what you can.
- Set up your Systems
DO THIS NOW – trust me – it’s so much easier to set up your systems when you can from the start. This is when you pause for a minute and think through your specific business, and what systems you may need, and get them in place.
How will you do your bookkeeping or compile the information needed to get to your bookkeeper, how will you track your sales, remit your sales taxes, track your customers, reply to their emails?
What do you need to keep the day to day operations of your specific business running smoothly and how can you be most efficient?
- Get Insured
Pretty much any kind of business will require some kind of insurance, and some will need a lot of it. So get with others in your industry, and an insurance provider to talk through what’s available and what’s recommended.
Things like insurance for your space may be required by your landlord, liability coverage may be a good idea, and there may be specific requirements for your type of business in your area, so check with your local small business association for recommendations on this, as well.
- Secure your Location
Whether you have a physical location, or you are operating virtually – this still applies. You need space to work, a separate phone line, good internet connection, room for your files etc. So make sure you have what you need.
If you have a brick and mortar location, you need to secure the space, do any improvements to the space to get ready to open, hook up utilities, order signs and furniture etc.
- Build your Team (staff, bookkeeper, VA etc)
This is the last one before you are ready to roll, and again if you have a staff, this is obviously important, but even if you are a solopreneur you will have a team. Maybe your team is just a bookkeeper to start. Or maybe it’s a virtual assistant, or just a mentor or advisor you know. Who is on your team? Get that mapped out.
Now, one important note... You don’t have to do everything in this exact order, and depending on your specific business there may be more or less steps than we’ve talked about today – but these are core steps that every type of business needs to cover.
Now at this point, the big question is what if I skip some of these steps?
You can and many of us do – often because we don’t know any better when we start out.
But here’s the thing, 90% of the time when I find someone struggling later in their business it comes back to something in these steps that wasn’t done or wasn’t done properly.
For example – if you find you are struggling getting new customers or attracting new prospects 2, 3 or 6 years into your business you probably didn’t nail your target market. And you can keep throwing money at ads, or trying new marketing tactics, but until you go back and really get that piece right, you will never see the results.
So much of what causes us to struggle in our businesses is from these foundational steps being neglected. So spend the time on them now getting them right and you will accelerate your success!
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