The First 10 Things to do to Start a Small Business
If you’re thinking of starting a small business, side gig, freelance career, or ANYTHING that requires you to be making your income you are likely already overwhelmed with just the idea of it. You know you want to try it, and you have an idea… but how? Where do you start? Having started 2 of our own businesses and helping lots of our clients with their own, we have some first hand experience with those early days and we have a list of our top 20 things to do to launch your own small business! Read on friend and take it step by step to reduce that overwhelm and get sh*t done.
1. figure out your why
The very first thing you need to do is have the idea of your business and know WHY you want to be offering this service or product. It’s crucial to have an understanding of the why behind your desire to start a business because it’s the one thing that will carry you through the months and years as you grow. It’ll help you make decisions (like a guiding light saying “no, THIS is why you’re doing this! Don’t forget me!”) and it’ll also help you when things get tough and you want to throw in the towel and go back to your old job where someone else was paying you all the time and you had benefits.
Your why might not be anything grandiose either, it might simply be that you want to have a flexible lifestyle. It might be that you’re planning to have kids someday soon and you’d like to be able to work from home. It could be that you’ve noticed a big gap in an industry and have a desire to fill it or solve a problem. Whatever your reasoning is get honest with yourself, figure it out, and write it down somewhere!!
2. plan your offering + the process by which you do this
What are you offering that will make you money and how are you going to be selling it? Consider this the basis for your business model and think through the process customers or clients will be following to buy from you. You don’t have to have this completely figured out before you start selling (honestly you’ll learn so much once you do start selling that you’ll no doubt want to adjust things again anyway) but you should have a rough idea of how it’s going to go down.
3. deTERMINE WHO your ideal clients ARE
Once you what and how, it’ll be time to consider who you’ll be selling to. Again, you won’t need to have this fully fleshed out right now and you’ll get to know your demographic even better over the first few months and years of your business, but you do need to have some idea in mind.
When starting with this item, the main things to consider are why they will be buying from you, and what you’re doing to attract to them. You need to know who they are so you can attract them to your business, and it’s important to determine whether you need to set things up specifically to attract them, or if the way you naturally (i.e personally) want to do things will in turn attract a certain type of person, and adapt your business model to them in turn.
4. DEFINE YOUR BRAND VALUES + MESSAGES
Now that you know who your ideal clients are, you need to think a little further about who you (as a business) are, and how you are going to communicate that to the world. Using your brand values (see this post here on how to get started with those) you can create more effective messages and communication to reach your demographic. We also cover this a little more on this blog post about brand messaging.
5. choose a name for YOUR BUSINESS
It might seem strange to suggest naming your business this far into the process, but we truly believe in the power of your brand strategy (which encompasses a lot of the first 5 items you’ve ticked off) and when we’re developing a name for a company over at Salt Design Co. we go through a brand strategy process first to ensure we know all the finer details of a company and can give context and personality to that name.
So with that being said, it’s time to add a name to your company! Consider whether you want to have a name that has conceptual meaning behind it, or check out this blog post for more tips on successfully naming your business!
6. register as a business
Okay, you’ve got a name, so now you can register your business with your local government and secure the name legally too. Check in with a lawyer if you need any help with this or find a small business resource local to you. If you’re in BC like us you can check out Small Business BC here.
7. set up an email + purchase a domain
Once you’ve got a name, you need to get a domain to match it! The timing of this step can be a little tricky because you don’t want your domain to be taken by someone else while you wait for the registration process to be completed, but you also don’t want to secure a domain only to have your name request denied.
Our suggestion? Honestly. Just go for it! Domains are hard to come by these days. If you’re feeling like you don’t want to commit right now, that’s cool too. Now that you don’t need to have a .com/ .ca or .gov/.org style domain you have a lot more options. For instance we are officially Salt Design Co. limited, but as saltdesigncompany.com and saltdesignco.com are both taken, we went for saltdesignco.studio! It works for us because we are a design studio (we prefer that to agency) and while there is sometimes confusion over our company name, we tend to use that as a way to tell who has paid attention and who hasn’t (I mean, our name is in our domain AND logo… so it’s not that hard).
8. Start 1 social media page
Got your domain secured? Perfect, run over to your top social media platform of choice and make sure you can get a handle that works for your business asap! If you're feeling able to start with more than 1 social media platform, we suggest going for 3 max, and starting with Instagram, Facebook and either Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Youtube depending on what your business is and where your audience likes to hang out.
9. create a basic website/ cover page
You don’t have to be web designer or ready to hire a web designer to have a starting website. Set up an account with Squarespace, Wordpress, Shopify or similar and create a basic landing page to get started.
By now you know a lot about your business, you know your people and you’ve got all the legalities and basic online presence taken care of. WHICH IS AMAZING!!
There’s still a lot more to be done, but these first 10 steps are so so important and you’re well on your way!