Creative Series: Starting a Biz 101 (Knowing What to Do and When You Need to Do It)
So you’ve decided you want to start a business! Congrats, that’s so exciting!
But where do you start?
It can be daunting to figure out what you need to do in order to get your business off the ground.
Here’s how I got my business started, and the steps that I took to make things legitimate. A lot of these things occurred concurrently, but this is the general order I followed.
Well, here's the fun part...
1 | Figure out what your business will be
You might be really good at a lot of different things, but you need to figure out the primary focus of your business. Figure out what your product is, decide on a target market, and stick with it. As your business grows, and you learn, you may be able to expand what your product is or change your market, but you want to head into it with a main focus.
2 | Pick a name
Ask friends and family for suggestions, write down every name you can think of, post a poll on Facebook and ask people to vote for their favorite. Check and see if URLs are available for your top three favorite names. You can always purchase more than one URL if you really can’t decide on names. Once you decide on a name, check and see if the social media accounts with that name exist, and create social media platforms for your business with the name you’ve chosen.
...now, let's get legit!
3 | Talk to a lawyer or accountant
This is a big step! You have to decide how you’ll pay taxes and your salary, and checking in with a lawyer and/or an accountant is vital. You need to know what to declare your business as when you file your taxes and when you register with your state.
4 | Register with the state
Google your state and their regulations for businesses. In most states, you need to register your business, and will have to pay a small fee depending on the size of the business. Often you will have to renew your state license every year.
5 | Talk to a bank
Time to set up your business bank account! I would look at a bank that you already have accounts with, and see what deals they can offer you for starting a business bank account with them. When I started my business account, the bank had a deal going for personal account cards: if you started a personal account with a certain amount minimum, they would give you 10% of that amount after three months. Basically, free money! Having a separate business credit or debit card will make it much easier to organize your expenses and to do your taxes.
Enough of that! Let's get back to the fun stuff!
6 | Start working on your branding
Branding is something that can define your company, and it’s pretty essential for many of the things you will do. There are branding experts who can meet with you and figure out exactly what you want your brand to convey and the best way for you to convey it. They can create your logos, and give you a color palette and fonts to use, and some branding experts even offer website services, which brings us to the next point!
7 | Make your website
Or hire someone else to do it. I made my website myself using Wix.com, and I’m so happy with it—I can change it whenever I want, as much as I want, and it’s super easy to use. I don’t pay anyone to manage my site, and I can change anything on a whim. Use your branding and either create or have your website developer create a website that conveys your brand.
8 | Business cards
I made my own business cards, once I was happy with my branding. I also highly recommend looking up coupon codes for whatever site you decide to get your business cards from. I look up coupon codes before I purchase anything online, because you never know what you’ll find and how much you can save.
... it's time to work your network!
9 | Spread the word!
Let everyone know about your business! Post on your Facebook page inviting people to like your business page, share your website, hand out your business cards to anyone and everyone. Offer your friends a referral code, where they get something like a gift card or something, for every person they refer who converts into a client. It’s all about working your networks!
Wasn't that an awesome post? I must say, Ariel hit some really good key points on here! This order is definitely something many entrepreneurs wish they had before opening their business, especially when it comes to all that "not fun" type of things, like getting registered, getting an accountant, and getting a business bank account. This is one of the things I see soooo many entrepreneurs jump over and commit the mistake of having their personal and business expenses and income streams, all into their personal bank account. This is a huge mistake once tax time comes around and not just that, it's extremely hard to know where your business stands throughout the year if there's a total mess from that personal and business finance mix. Let's not even get into correctly tracking what that bottom line looks like, to say there's a bookkeeping system properly set up, would be a dream (not come true). Getting a business bank account is free, and getting on Wave (bookkeeping system) is also FREE, so go get them! You'll thank me later! :)
A little about Ariel Vaisbort:
Ariel owns Ariel Social Media, a comprehensive social media management service. Ariel loves to work with entrepreneurs, small business owners, and business coaches.