Starting a business from scratch can feel daunting. But it really doesn’t have to be if you follow these five pro level steps that most businesses ignore, so that you can give yourself the very best chance for success and profit! Let’s jump right in.
1. Validate your idea
First of all we need to validate your idea. You’re probably really excited about your new business but first things first, are there enough other people who are also excited about it? Before you do anything else you need to do a little bit of research upfront to see how much competition is out there and then decide if your idea has enough demand to support it. Because competition can be healthy but too much competition is obviously also not ideal, and one of the easiest ways to check on this is by researching the marketplace to see if your business category even exists. And if it does exist does it seem to be doing well? Are the businesses in your category getting good reviews? Do they seem to be getting traction with their customers? Have they been in business for a while?
And if you go to a SEO tool like Semrush, you can actually use their Market Explorer tool to your advantage. That’s going to let you type in your niche in your local area if that’s applicable. It’s going to give you all kinds of really helpful insights into the overall health of the industry, as well as demographic info for your best customers and more.
If you can’t really find a version of what you’re planning on, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should scrap the idea. Maybe you’ve invented a new category that’s going to be really popular, in which case, great job! An easy way to validate a new idea before doing anything else is just by conducting a simple social media poll and asking your followers what they think about it.
2. Get clear on who your customer is
Now if all that checks out and you do see a demand for your business, then it’s time to get super clear on who your customer is. As a new business owner you should be super excited about your business and what you have to offer. But thinking that everyone out there is your customer is actually going to get in your way, because you’ll spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to serve people who just don’t want, or need, what you’re selling. Soyou do need to know you can’t please everyone, but you can please those people who do want what you’ve got. And yes – those are your customers. So narrowing things down to your most ideal customers takes the pressure off of being all things to all people. So you can then focus on delivering what’s actually gonna sell to the people who will actually buy it!
3. Get down to the business of starting a business
Once you’re crystal clear on that, it’s time to get down to the business behind starting a business. What do we mean? For starters, you’re probably going to need a business plan. Studies have shown that businesses who did it right and actually wrote out a business plan grew about 30% faster than the ones who didn’t! And a good business plan includes an overview of the business, what you’ll be providing, who your customers are (which you should already know now), how you’ll make money, how you’ll acquire your customers and finally how you plan on funding your business. So it’s in this stage you’re also going to need to figure out how you want to structure your business legally. Will you be a sole proprietor or will you incorporate or form a private limited company? There are a ton of considerations here, so you’re going to want to dig a bit deeper on those specifics. Once you figure out the plan and structure you also need to legally register your business and open a business bank account. So if you know you’re gonna have expenses, we recommend getting a business credit card too. This way you can pay all your business expenses with that card and then pay that card off every month from your business bank account. You’ll thank us come tax time!
4. Branding your business
Now with all the legal stuff out of the way, we can turn to something more fun – like branding! Spoiler alert: branding is not just logo design. Sure, a great logo is definitely part of your branding, but it does need to go further. So you need to take all that work you did already in defining who your customer is and what problem you solve for them, and then tie that into your business’s overall messaging, look and personality. And as we mentioned in the beginning, starting a business is all about setting it up for success. And all successful businesses have a point of view and a personality that’s reflected in everything that they do. From the tone of the words they use on their website, to the colours they choose, all the way to the logo too.
A great starting point here is to create some kind of a vision board that describes your business mission and overall vibe. So you should include the colours that would be appropriate for your business, and that you know based on research will resonate with your customers. It’s not all about just getting the colours that you like best personally. They have to be appropriate and they have to appeal to your customers!
To make this more actionable for you, we’ve got a few online tools to recommend in this branding phase. First of all talking colours, there’s a website called coolers.co and that is our go-to when it comes to finding the right colour palette for any business. Next, Canva is a really amazing tool that you can use to create everything from your logo, to your social media posts, business cards – you name it. There is a paid plan with Canva, but you can also do a lot for free too!
5. Creating a website
Once you’ve got an idea for the overall look, feel and the branding of your business, it’s time to jump into creating a website. Getting the right websites can actually fill your business with customers or clients automatically everyday. That’s why it’s so important to treat it like the business real estate that it is, not just a woodshop project that got buried away in the garage. Your website is a business tool that can make or break your business and you want to treat it well. You know your website needs to communicate all that personality and messaging about who you serve, what you solve for them and why you’re the best business to do it.
We also recommend you get your website up and running much earlier in the process here. Even if it just starts out as a coming soon page, it’s something that a lot of banks and investors want to see. Your first step to getting that website is actually choosing the perfect domain name, so this is something you can’t afford to get wrong. Stay tuned for our next post where we’re going to give you a checklist for picking a domain name that will help your business the most!