How Do I Know What My Business Even Is?
One of my favorite side effects of becoming my own business owner is being a small business bestie online and IRL. In addition to my clients, some of my best friends, favorite family members and coolest former coworkers have opened up to me about their dreams of running their own business. One thing most of them have in common: they’re overwhelmed with the daunting task that lies ahead, and don’t know where to begin. Seriously: how do I start a small business?
Let me tell you, I’ve been there. Seriously. And I’m going to tell you something that I learned while I was gearing up to launch We Heart Branding: the only way to get started is to JUST START.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to start a business, but that’s not what this is. This is advice for how to get started on getting started; how to gain momentum with your business when you’re not sure what your business even is.
Decide on your mission: WHO you serve, HOW you serve them
Your creativity is what is going to help you succeed, but having a creative outlet for yourself does not a business plan make. Go beyond your talents and get specific: exactly who are you serving, and how are you serving them? Sit down with a pen and paper and map out your target market. Who is your ideal client? What do they do, and what do they need?
Next, decide exactly what you offer. Are you starting a Facebook community, writing an e-book, selling a physical product or offering a service? Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect- your business will change as you do. Make a decision based on where you are now, and know that it can (and probably will) change.
Worry about making money later – just start
I know this sounds a little nuts, but hear me out. If you have the WHO and the HOW, the rest will follow. Don’t let your fears stop you from getting started. Don’t sit there worrying about whether anyone will hire you or buy from you, because if you never try, they’ll never have the opportunity. When you want to start a small business, you have to take a leap of faith. The first step always feels the hardest, but trust me, getting your feet wet is the best way to get started!
Besides, once you get to step three, you’ll want to work a lot harder to get things going…
Pick a name, any name, and GO.
Trust me, another ten hours of brainstorming is not the most efficient use of your time. Your name doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be available. Run your top choices by a few people you trust, and make a commitment. Get the URL from GoDaddy or Squarespace, snag the Instagram handle, make the Facebook page, get the e-mail address. No looking back. The sooner you do this, the quicker you’ll make it all happen.
Worried it’s not perfect? It won’t be. Don’t. Worry! Just start!
Get a Logo
Again, let’s not get bogged down in the details. This task should be fun, quick and easy. Search “pre-made” logos on Etsy and look for something that fits your business. You don’t need anything custom at this point in your business, and it’s not worth investing money in a designer while things are still in flux. Make a little money before you spend it- and give yourself some time to get to know your business before you commit to custom design.
Make a Website or a Facebook Group
Just do it! Are you sensing a theme here?
Squarespace is easy to navigate and super simple to start with. You can have a great-looking website up in an afternoon, and with the drag-and-drop editor it’s easy to go back and make changes. If you’re trying to build a community for your niche or not ready to purchase a website, Facebook is the perfect place to start.
Remember: don’t get bogged down in the details. The key here is to keep the momentum. You can look into e-commerce options or membership sites once you are up and running, but for now just get something online already!
And if you’re scared about what it’s going to say and what pictures you’re putting up – don’t be. Put up a splash page, or a quick welcome/we are under construction so at least you have an online footprint. Get. Started!
Claim your Social Handles
I mentioned this in step 3: as soon as you pick your name, claim your handles. Even if you’re not sure whether you’ll ever post on a particular platform, claim the handle just in case. You don’t have to post yet, but if you want to start a small business you do have to get the name if you want brand awareness and continuity!
Join a Support Community for Online Business Owners
I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my friends and fellow online entrepreneurs. When I need encouragement, advice, or some incredible talent to team up with, I know I can turn to my community. I’m a proud paid member of the Savvy Community, but I also love just following other small business owners on instagram and getting inspired by their content and their work.
That’s it! When you’ve checked off every item on this list, you’ll have built the framework for your business. The framework is sometimes the hardest part… so if you can power through this list, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own small business.
As you continue to grow your business, you’ll determine how you’ll make money– whether through services, products or a mix of both.
You’ll also potentially get new information about who your target audience is; oftentimes we start businesses speaking to one audience, only to find our words resonating with an unexpected group of people.
More on making money with your small business and refining your target audience soon– in the meantime, you’ve got some work to do!