Are you thinking of starting a new business? Are you wondering what basic steps you need to take to get up and running? As someone who has gone through this process a few times, I’ve learned what basic steps need to be taken.
So I thought I’d share my top 12 tips for setting up a new business. And the best news is that most of them are free!
12 Tips for Setting Up a New Business
1. Choose Your Business Name
Admittedly, this is easier said than done. But belaboring your business name for days or weeks will only result in frustration and the delay of your launch. So put some thought into your name, but don’t let it paralyze you. Write down a few top picks, share them with family and friends, then choose! If you absolutely can’t come up with a name for your business, then use your own name. I started this business as M Phillips Consulting.
While on this topic, you’ll want to decide on the type of organization. Will you be a corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, etc.? Unless you are well-versed on the various business entities, it might be time to find a good lawyer or accountant to help you decide.
At this time, you’ll need to obtain any necessary licenses or permits required for your business name.
2. Write Your Business Plan
Never start a business without a business plan! If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Trust me. As important as I’ve known a business plan could be, I never got serious about writing one until my present business. There are plenty of free templates around, so don’t let format stop you. Just do a Google search and choose a template that fits your business model. At the least, you need to include the following:
- Write out a business description
- Determine your target market
- Identify growth trends in your industry
- Identify your competition
- List your educational credentials
- List business-related work credentials
- Decide if you will be working from home or renting office space and get insurance
- Decide if you will need financing
- Inventory your business equipment requirements
- Determine how you will handle your accounting
- Develop a marketing plan including a social media marketing strategy
3. Have a Physical Mailing Address (preferably not your home!)
In this day and age so many people are working from home or telecommuting. That’s fine, but you don’t want strangers, salespeople, or even clients showing up on your doorstep when you’ve decided to work in your pj’s for the day. If your home address is published as your business physical address, you risk these things. It happens all the time. Get a PO Box if you have to, but just be aware that listing your home address as your business address does invite some inconveniences. Not to mention all the junk mail that gets delivered, too!
4. Set Up a Way for Customers to Pay You
You’ll have to open a business checking account, but you don’t have to incur the expense of getting checks and deposit slips printed right away. Wait till you get going. You can always pick up blank checks and deposit tickets from the bank as you need them. Plus, so many transactions take place online, you might be set for awhile with your starter checks.
You can get a basic merchant PayPal account set up for free. It’s convenient, trusted, and you can pay vendors and clients can pay you directly online. There is a small transaction fee charged for online payments, but it’s worth the convenience. As your business grows, you can always sign up for a premium account.
5. Set Up a Skype Account
If you don’t already have a Skype account, you’ll want to get one set up. The basic package is free, and it works fine. An advantage of upgrading to a paid account is that Skype optimizes the Internet connection during your Skype sessions; however, I’ve found the basic package works well. It’s a quick, convenient, and affordable way to talk to customers and colleagues all around the world.
6. Write Your Biography
Keep it short! All you need is to write two short paragraphs highlighting your skills and background. Your bio will be used on your social platform profiles, in press releases, and guest blogging to name a few. Your clients will ask for your bio. You can include your bio in proposals, too.
7. Get a Professional Photo Taken
See 6 above. You will need a nice professional photo in all the same places.
8. Have a Way for Customers to Contact You
Set up a phone number and email contact at the very least.
9. Set Up a Blog or Website
It’s important to have an online “anchor” for your business. While you will undoubtedly set up a few social platforms, you should still have a website or blog over which you have control. If Facebook or Twitter decide to fold, you won’t lose all the community you’ve worked so hard to build. You can set up a WordPress website for free. Having a mobile website is a great way to attract new prospects, too!
10. Create Your Social Platforms
Set up your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter platforms. One at a time. Keep your branding consistent across all platforms. Measure the ROI of these platforms. Are you getting the conversions you need? Are you building a list of prospects? Monitor these areas carefully, making adjustments where needed.
11. Get Your Business Cards!
People always ask for business cards. There is more than social media marketing to a business. Traditional marketing such as networking requires that you carry a supply of business cards. Those business cards should include the links of your social platforms.
12. Network, Network, Network!
Let people know you’re out there. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, now it’s time to shine! Congratulations on starting your new business. Here’s to your success!
Have I forgotten anything? Are there any other tips you can share with us? Please leave a comment and let us know!