Last Updated May 20, 2021
“Your mom and I want to start a business!” My wife surprises me with this news as I walk out to my backyard.
“Now what?” She looks at me as if I have all the answers.
In this case, I actually did have answers for her. She’s seen me run my own businesses for the decade we’ve been married, but she wasn’t overly interested in the ins-and-outs but now she wants to run something.
“Okay, well, there are a few things you need to do.”
Once you have your business idea, begin by building a website. WordPress is what’s recommended to build something quickly, and it’s made for beginners. Once you have that done, start researching where your customer base is online. This includes selecting the relevant Social Networks where your audience may be congregating in. While doing that, or after, work on creating graphics to use throughout your business. After completing everything else, learn the basics of Digital Marketing to promote your company and its services. These are the first four things you should do to launch your business.
After the long blank stare that followed, I began to break it down to her.
Once we concluded our talk, it got me thinking about the businesses I’ve helped in the past and the other businesses I’ve learned from when working with them on their own goals.
Okay, So You Started a Business… But Now You’re Not Sure What to Do Next?
It bothered me that there aren’t a lot of places that upcoming and new business owners can go to (other than YouTube and Google) to get an idea on what to actually do to now that you started a business.
There is a learning curve! There are things you need to know! You will have to wear many hats! That tends to scare enough people away from doing their own business, but more-and-more are continuing to pursue their dream and desire of being their own boss.
Let me be clear: If you’re wanting to do this, you will be adding 20 – 40 hours of workload on top of what you are already doing! There is no way around it.
So, I wanted to write this blog post to give those of you that are truly interested in starting your business; or those that have just started your business, a starting point of what you will need and how to go about doing it.
Whom Is This For?
This can work for almost any type of business. Keep in mind, that if your business doesn’t need to hire employees, then you’ll have to do some, if not all, of this on your own.
If you’re a single person business, you may have to modify some of this to fit your business but it’s all still applicable.
If you’re a storefront, or you have a place of business where people come to find you, this will definitely be of help.
A Quick Note: I have these listed out in steps. You’re welcome to go in this order, but you can go in any order you feel you need to go. All businesses are different and you have to do what is best for you.
Step 1: Build a Website
When researching about building a website, you’re going to come across many people that will try to convince you that you don’t need a website to start. Or you will come across those that will try to get you to remortgage your home for the sake of building “the best website in the history of websites!” It’ll only cost you $25,000! ????
NONE OF THIS IS TRUE.
You do need a website, as it’s the first impression that most people will have of your business. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and you can grow it overtime. But having a website is important! And there are ways to make it look professional without breaking the bank. Later, you can add the bells-and-whistles that cost you the tens-of-thousands… but ONLY when you’re not only able to afford it, but when it will also benefit you (either by reducing costs at your business or as a tool that helps bring you more customers or clients, adding to your bottom line).
The Pages I Recommend You Build When You Start a Business
The homepage: The homepage is the introduction of your business. Think of it as the first thing people see. What will their impression be? Are you a professional business or a business that has no idea what they’re doing? Here, you will post a summary of what you do, some images of your business, your latest blog posts if you have them, business hours, contact number, etc.
About Page: Outside of the homepage there are side pages. These are less important, but if someone is interested enough in your business to visit any of these pages, that is a great sign they may do business with you. In the About Page, you show the personal side of your business. The employees, the story of how your business started, how your give back to the community, etc. Images are key here. You want make the reader feel confident that you are a business that cares about your community, because that means that you care about them.
Service/Product Page: This is the page that speaks about what you offer. Whether it’s a product or service. Videos and pictures work well here. If you’re a restaurant, this is where you can have your menu listed. If you’re a legal firm, you may break up your services to other pages, or provide small paragraphs about the type of legal services you offer. Retail store? Show off your best sellers! Possibilities are endless.
Contact Page: Give your potential customers or clients an easy way to get ahold of you. You can have some images of your company culture if you’d like to make it a bit more personal. Here you can reiterate your business hours, address, phone number, and/or add a contact form.
Don’t Forget These!
Terms and Conditions: Not required, but highly recommended. Should someone try to sue you, the terms and conditions are used to help determine who’s in the right. A good terms speaks about what a visitor can and cannot do on your site. Rocket Lawyer also has these files you can purchase.
How Do I Build It?
There are many ways to do this. I personally recommend you DO NOT go the “free” route as it will make you look unprofessional. You have to have some money to start a business, there’s no way around it. However, it doesn’t have to break the bank as I’ve mentioned above.
I recommend you use Wordify. You can do it all on one platform, great support, and you can start for free. I built a tutorial on how to setup your first website in under ten minutes. You can find it here and start creating now!
To actually build a website, you also have many options. I’m not a fan of Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, etc but it is definitely an avenue you can approach.
My recommendation is to use WordPress (and it’s fully setup for you on Wordify) with the Elementor theme builder because it’s an easy way to get started. If you combine it with the Astra theme, you have free templates you can choose from to get started. And they’re good templates at that, not cheesy ones.
Why Do Some Websites Cost $1,000 and Some Cost over $10,000?
It all boils down to function and management. I charge a minimum of $3,500 for my websites as my main clientele are established businesses. More goes into building a more expensive website that requires various professionals. When you start a business, again, you don’t have to go this in-depth, but it’s good to know what to expect when you get to that point (and why it’s worth it).
Some Key Points
- User Experience: There is psychology behind how a website is designed. How someone is expected to move through it. There may be things that detract from someone making a purchase, and a good user experience helps solve that problem. There are more reasons to have a good user experience, but this is a main one.
- The Text: There are many reasons that a professional copywriter is a good investment for your website. If they know what they’re doing, they can write the text of your website in a way that helps convince people to buy from you.
- Graphics/Photography: Having professional graphics and photography custom made for your website adds the professionalism and elegance that shows a great deal of effort was done on the website.
- Digital Marketing: An all-in-one solution to help your business automate certain processes, like sending out emails or text messages. Normally not built into your website, but connected to it.
- Project Management: Who is the one that gets all these professional together to build your website? In the case of my business, that would be the project manager. When I started my own business, that project manager was me (as well as the website builder). It takes a lot to find the perfect team to build this. That takes talent, time, and knowledge.
- Custom Functionality: This is where having something work just for your business gets built in. Are you a restaurant? Here you can have your very own online ordering system that automatically sends the order to your kitchen, so you don’t have to rely as much on services like Postmates. Or a customized customer portal for your clients if you’re a professional or medical business. Or a custom website to hold your sermons if you’re a church. It’s the function.
When you’re just starting, most of the above doesn’t matter. That’s why I’m writing this post so you know how to start, as well as justify why and when to spend money on a website. Unless you have venture capital, investing on the above is not recommended. You can have a modest and professional looking website, three-to-five pages, built with some effort on your part (or have one of your trusted employees do it).
Step 2: Figure Out Where Your Customers Are
“How do I find the people to come to my website?” My wife was determined to learn as much from me as possible.
“Well,” I began, “you have to figure out where they are congregating.” Once again, the blank stare.
Finding where your potential customers are congregating is not as difficult as it may seem. All it takes is a little research and you’ll have an idea of where to start. Facebook™ has the most users active at any given time. They are a great source to find of almost all kinds of people. Instagram is a great way to show the “behind-the-scenes” of your company as it’s more of a personal network. If your target market are primarily moms with children, Pinterest is a great place to start. Do you need to find a younger crowd? Snapchat is the place to do your research. Find out what Social Networks are out there, which are the most popular, and then you’ll learn what their respective audiences are and if it’s a good fit for your business.
Using Social Media
We live in a digital world. Chances are, your customers or clients are in the digital world somewhere.
It’s your responsibility to find them! There are many different Social Networks out there, and they each have different types of people that use it.
It’s important to note that I wont be asking you to be on every single platform. That will exhaust you very quickly. I recommend you choose one or two at most and focus on those. The ones you choose are determined by where your customers or clients are.
Facebook™ (The General Public)
We all know Facebook™. Some of us may not like it, but on any given day, there are MILLIONS of ACTIVE users on it! That means that people that actually use it are there!
Think of Facebook™ at the “general store” of people. Best use of Facebook™ are finding consumers. Almost all types of consumers can be found on the platform and that makes it a great place to start.
Facebook™ is broken up into three categories. The personal profile, the business pages, and groups. They all have their purpose, but we’ll be focusing on two here. The profile and the page.
This is your personal profile, where you have to manually accept friend requests from people and add friends to your profile.
Although most people use this to show off pictures of their family, friends, pets, etc, this is a GREAT resource to show off when you start a business. You have to do it in a specific way, though, or you’ll get dinged by Facebook™, or even kicked off the platform.
Speak About But Not Sell
It’s crucial that you never try to sell someone on it! This is NOT the place to sell your service, product, or menu.
Your profile is where to discuss it. It’s a place to declare that you are the professional in your field or in what you do. It’s the place to offer help and answer questions.
Think of it this way. You’re at a party where you may know some people. If you walk up to someone and tell them that you started a business, now give you money, they’ll think you’re crazy!
However, if you start talking about it, garner interest, get a crowd of interested people, then you can invite that crowd to your house.
What’s your house in the analogy? Either your website or place of business.
If you want to know a bit more about how to make your profile work for you, check out this post.
Typically, your first customers/clients will come from either the people you know or those on your friends list.
You may not be willing to use your profile as a means to attract business, and that’s okay. Keep in mind, though, that it will take longer to build a following of people. On your profile, it may be that they wont buy from you, but they may refer someone to you.
This takes us to the next part.
Here, you can sell, talk about, and do anything related to your business. However, you may not be using it much in the beginning.
It’s important to have this setup and ready to go once ready to run advertisements. Remember that to reach people you don’t know, you have to pay. And it’s actually cheaper than you may think (we’ll discuss paid ads later in this post).
If you decide to utilize both your Profile and Page, it’s important that you post to both regularly. On your Page, consider posting things about your company culture, how you give back to the community, acknowledge employees, etc. Build your following as you grow as that will help when you start advertising.
If you opt to fully invest in your Page, then you have to work harder because Facebook™ doesn’t help get your page out to the masses without paying. That’s why I recommend you utilize both.
For now, set it up, ask people to follow you, and use it to advertise.
Instagram is a platform that’s owned by Facebook™ but has a different way of being Social. Here, you post pictures with a quote.
This is a great platform to showcase your work, show off your behind-the-scenes at your place of business, and generally have a more casual feel to your images. It’s a place to show off the humanity of your business, of yourself, your staff, and customers or clients!
It’s easier to post on Instagram and you can get many followers here if people like what you offer. By offer, I don’t mean your product or service, although that’s always a part of it. Offer as in how you make them, the viewer, feel. It’s another way to help establish trust as you start your business.
Pinterest (Primarily Women with Children)
Pinterest has over 335 MILLION active users! It is now the third largest social network (as of 2020)! 80% of its users are women, mainly moms with children, ages 18-64.
So what does this mean to you? When you start a business, you may not know who will buy your stuff, but once you do know, and those people fit in the above category, then Pinterest may be a good place to be in!
SnapChat (Younger Crowds)
I’m personally not a SnapChat user, but if one of my clients had a need to reach 34 year olds or younger, primarily urban living, that have had some college education, I would consider marketing here! As of 2020, SnapChat is the sixth most popular messaging app.
Again, what does that mean to you? There are enough social networks out there that will cater to the people you want to buy from you! It’s your responsibility to go out there and research. When you start a business, there are no excuses. Remember that!
But what if your business sells to other businesses?
When your business deals with other businesses, your focus should be LinkedIn. This is where you network Business-to-Business (B2B).
The strategy changes when on LinkedIn, but the concept is the same. Your LinkedIn profile is the face of you as a professional. Think of it as a type of resume. You’ll have all your achievements, awards, accolades, etc.
It’s also a place where people can recommend you and talk about how you’ve helped them.
Although this is a great place for worldwide networking, there is another consideration for local community networking.
Alignable (Local Business Network)
This is the network for local professionals. Here you can connect with those business owners that you’ll actually meet in person. It’s almost like being a part of a Chamber of Commerce. You can discuss your services, promote events, and even be featured in their newsletter!
Like LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to make sure your profile is optimized and fully filled out to maximize the potential to reach other businesses and have them take you seriously.
What does all of this mean? It means that your customers or clients are somewhere to be found! You just have to create an offer or product that they will like, find them, and offer it to them.
But, how do you offer it to them?
Step 3: Create Graphics For Your Business
You’ve seen them. The infographics, or nice looking pictures with quotes in them, or just nice photography.
Although you can offer people in various ways, it’s important to note that you actually have to grab their attention first. One way to do this is by using eye catching graphics.
You may be thinking to yourself, “but I’m not a Graphic Designer!”
Maybe not, but that’s not an excuse if you’re wanting to be in business.
Remember, stop making excuses and start finding solutions.
After all, isn’t that why you got into business in the first place? To solve a problem people have?
Fortunately, there are many ways around this, and I’ll show you the most popular one.
Canva has been a lifesaver for so many people and businesses alike.
It’s a platform where you can create graphics for almost anything, for free.
Now, they do have a paid version where you have access to premium images, but you can definitely start for free.
See the image to your right (or below on mobile)? It was created on Canva. There is no way I would have thought of making this.
Using Canva is a lifesaver, and you can start free. The premium options has great features too!
I won’t go too much into Adobe Photoshop except to say that it’s now very inexpensive to use! For $10 per month (US) you have access to the full app!
You can use Photoshop to manipulate images, fix the color, and even make graphics if you feel (or are) creative. For $120 per year, it’s definitely worth it! Especially since you can also do simple videos with it as well!
You can find great tutorials on Photoshop on YouTube, some directly from Adobe. It’s worth looking into.
A Quick Pause While You Start a Business
Phew! I know this has been a lot of information so far. Remember that if you have any questions, feel free to comment below! If this has been helpful for you so far, I would appreciate it if you would share this post on your preferred social network!
Step 4: Learn How to Promote
By now, you have a website, you have identified and are posting to your preferred social networks, and you are creating graphics to help grab attention.
If you started by using your Facebook™ profile, or if you’re mainly getting business by referrals, but you’re posting regularly and your following is growing, then it’s time to consider paying for ads to reach more people.
Like most things, there many platforms to choose from to advertise from. To keep costs down, I’ll be speaking on advertising on Facebook™.
With as little as $5 per day, you can advertise to hundreds of people. The power of Facebook™ Ads lies in its targeting.
For example, if you’re a restaurant, you can target people on their birthday month that live within one mile of your restaurant and offer them a special offer.
It’s that detailed. It’s that powerful.
There is a learning curve! And it can get a bit complicated! But once you grasp the basics, which is all you need to start, then you have a means to reach the exact type of people you’re looking for.
Putting It All Together When You Start a Business
This is by far not everything you can do. There is a lot of other things that are out there, and over time I will be updating this post.
With what I spoke about above, you have a foundation to market your business effectively. But you may be wondering, how it all fits together? Well you…
- Build a website that hosts your business details.
- Leverage Social Media to find where your customers are
- Use graphics to grab the attention of your potential clients or customers
- Pay for ads to reach a wider audience
There are many ways to do the same thing, this is just my take on it. I’d love to hear what you do in the comments below!
Just start! Get going! If you have questions, comment below! I’ll do my best to get to you in a timely manner.
Now go and create your business!