Many of us dream of quitting the 9-5, but only a small percentage of us take that leap into the unknown.
When I left my full-time job 6 years ago it was terrifying – I literally left work on the Friday and didn’t have a job to go to on the Monday. For the first time in my adult life I felt ‘unemployed’.
In truth I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or what it would really take to build a successful business, but what I did have was an unshakable belief in my own abilities, and in my determination to make it work, no matter what.
Fast forward 6 years, and sometimes I still shake a little when I think I’m going it alone, but I’ve learned so much since starting my own business and I’ve never looked back.
One of my great passions is supporting and mentoring others, so I offer one-to-one sessions to help people take that leap with structure and focus. Details can be found on my website, but in the meantime, here are the basic steps I recommend:
MAKE A PLAN
Whether your new start-up needs funding or not, I advise everyone to write a basic business plan that sets out what you will offer, who will want to buy it, what makes your offering different, how you will monetise.
These are the four basic foundations on which you can build your business and, it may sound obvious, but writing this down can be daunting and time consuming. Take the time to get this part right as it will guide you along the way.
GIVE IT A NAME
This is the fun bit but, believe me, this can take longer than the planning!
Coming up with the name for my business took months of brainstorming and internet surfing, but again, this is a crucial step and will be the brand on which all of your products and services hang.
Think about what you are selling and who your audience is when coming up with a name for your business – appealing to and engaging your audience is key.
BUY THE RIGHTS
As soon as you have decided on a name, get onto Companies House to make sure no business with that name already exists. If it doesn’t, jump over to a domain buying site like 1&1 to make sure your domain is available.
If both of these checks come back clear, buy the domain and register your company name.
In terms of a domain, always try to register both .com and .co.uk to protect your business online. These are the most popular and powerful extensions when it comes to web browsing.
WRITE IT DOWN
Now is the time to write down details of your products / services. Set out exactly what it is you are offering and how much each will sell for.
Focus on the benefits of what you are selling – what will your buyer actually needs. A good example is that someone who buys a daily planner doesn’t necessarily want the planner – they want the ability to organise their daily tasks quickly and efficiently – that is your benefit.
A top tip is to write down what you offer and pay attention to the last things you write, as that is often where we naturally put the real benefits. Now put that up front.
It’s also a good time to write a bit about why you are starting the business – what do you hope to achieve, what is motivating you – this copy can be used on your website and in future social media posts.
SET IT UP
I always recommend getting a website up and running as a priority as, despite the incredible advances in social media, your website remains your little home online and your shop window where your future customers can get to know you and buy from you.
I’ve built loads of websites for clients covering a huge variety of sectors and find that starting with the pages that will be needed, and then filling the text into those pages, is a good place to start. For example About, Services, Blog, Contact are key pages your site may need.
Think about the buyer’s needs – what will help them get to know you / your products / services and make that sale.
Now is also the time to start thinking about social media and this is where knowing your audience really is crucial. There is no point setting up accounts on every social media platform out there if your target audience spend most of their time on Instagram. Focus on the platforms where your audience are – get those right and you can expand over time.
CREATE A BUZZ
Even before your website goes live you can start creating a buzz and building your audience on social media, in fact I highly recommend this. In this way, by the time you officially launch you will already have an audience of people who know what you will offer and will be ready to engage.
LAUNCH AND PROMOTE
When you know the exact date you will be ready to launch think of creating a promotional countdown to really get your audience revved up.
Once you’ve launched the hard work starts – promote promote promote! This involves constantly engaging with your audience and demonstrating the benefits and value of what you offer.
Never stand still – keep an eye on the competition and get creative. It takes quite a lot of effort to stand out from the crowd these days but a solid offering and a good social media strategy will go a long way to creating the business of your dreams.
So that was a little overview of the steps I take to set up a new business and the starting point of the mentoring sessions I offer.
Most of all believe in yourself, be persistent and consistent and Go For It!