While being a small business owner can be challenging, it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Plus, it allows you to pursue your dreams. If you’re ready to accept the challenge of starting a small business, you should take certain steps to make sure that you’re as successful as possible. Following these steps will help you distinguish your small business from the competition and help your ideal customers find you.
As a digital marketing agency in Colorado Springs, Succeeding Small understands that starting a small business can be overwhelming. Between registering your small business as an LLC to securing a website domain, there are probably hundreds of tasks to cover in your first year of business. While it may seem straightforward to make a product or service and sell it to your customers, there are many things you should do when you start a business. To help you get started off right, we’ve compiled the top 10 things to do when starting your small business.
1. Create Your Small Business Plan
There are many ways you can create a business plan for your new small business. Remember, creating a business plan doesn’t need to take long or be highly complicated. Creating a simple business structure will help prepare you to advertise your small business to friends and family, pitch to potential clients, and network with fellow business professionals. Plus, if you decide to seek investors, a fully-fledged business plan will be an absolute necessity.
2. Register Your Small Business Name (Then immediately do #3)
Registering your business may come as a no-brainer, but it’s a step that you may easily forget. If you are in the United States, registering your business with the government is vital for protecting yourself and your assets. While you can run your business under your legal name (i.e., Joe Smith – Photographer), there are many benefits to registering your small business as an LLC or Limited Liability Company (i.e., Joe Smith Photography LLC). One of the main benefits is keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances. If you choose to come up with a business name, complete step #3 as soon as possible!
3. Secure Your Ideal Website Domain Name
After choosing a business name and registering your business, you should immediately secure your ideal website domain name. No, this doesn’t mean you need a website right away (though we definitely recommend one at some point). This means that you will own the domain name to your website once you decide to have one built (i.e., joesmithphotography.com).
Often, spam companies will look up all the new businesses registered at any given time and buy the domain names. Then, a small business like yours has to pay an unreasonable amount of money to own their ideal website domain name. So, purchase your ideal domain through simple sites like GoDaddy. This small investment ensures that you will have your preferred business domain name right from the start. Your own domain also makes it easier to market your business later.
Note, it’s essential to do this right after registering your business to avoid another company purchasing your domain name. Also, remember to research your preferred domain name before choosing a business name.
4. Create A Soft List
List as many connections as you currently have that may be interested in your service or product. You don’t need to start cold calling and hard selling to all of your friends and family, because you likely have already told many people close to you about your goals of starting a new business.
Your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers will probably be excited to support you as you start. This can simply be sharing your new business card with someone to help market your business or purchasing your services. After you’ve created your soft list of potential customers, its time to reach out. Let your contacts know that you’ve started a small business they might genuinely be interested in. Also make it clear that you’d genuinely be happy to serve them.
5. Create A Business Facebook And Instagram Account
Whether your business is brick-and-mortar or entirely online, there has never been an easier time to market your new business. Between social media and a great search engine optimized website, you can provide excellent, helpful content to your ideal clients. You’ll also be able to establish credibility with those who may not yet know you.
The first thing to do is create a business Facebook page and Instagram account. Establishing your social media presence will allow you to access analytics features, community engagement tools, and more – all for free. It will also link to your personal Facebook profile so your friends and followers can learn more about your business and share it with their communities. Setting up free business Facebook and Instagram accounts is an integral step in creating a successful business. Create your free business Facebook account here.
6. Start Making Content Like It’s Your Job – Because It Is
You don’t have to be a blogger, YouTuber, or Instagram influencer to make content a crucial part of your business. The “Know, Like, Trust” concept states that any given client must go through three unique stages before making a purchase. This should be where you start when planning to market your business.
- They first need to “know” your small business – through your website, a blog post, ad, an existing customer, etc.
- Secondly, they need to “like” your small business. This might include following you on social media, subscribing to your free newsletter, or downloading a freebie.
- Finally, they need to “trust” you and your new business, which ultimately leads them to make a purchase.
You can help potential clients through these stages by giving them free content. This can include helpful tips and tricks on your social media, useful blog posts on your website, and unique freebies that offer a quick win for your clients in exchange for their email.
7. Cultivate Your Email List
You probably have heard by now that email marketing is one of the most important things you can do to market your business. If you don’t know where to start but don’t want to miss out on the clients you’re currently serving, simply make a list of the clients you have, ask them for their email addresses, and update their contact information. Flodesk is an affordable option for securely storing your email list and makes creating and sending your emails a breeze.
It’s also helpful to have a subscribe form on your website that allows customers to automatically subscribe to receive updates, coupons, tips, etc. Social media allows you to speak to the masses, but it can be hard to reach people. On the other hand, email marketing enables you to speak to your target market, who specifically asked to hear from you. Sign up for the Succeeding Small newsletter to see how we reach our target market through email marketing.
8. Start Networking With Other Professionals
Whether digitally through Linkedin and Facebook groups, or in-person through networking groups and community events, getting to know other professionals in your area is a vital part of the success of your business. (Listen to the first episode of the Succeeding Small Podcast where Madeleine talks about how she built a 6-figure business at age 20 through networking.)
If the term “networking” makes you nervous, focus more on starting authentic relationships with the people in these groups. Ask questions like, “Why did you start your business?”, “What made you passionate about your particular industry?”, and “What is your best advice for someone who’s just starting?”. Approaching networking with low expectations of sales and more expectations of making relationships will help other business owners trust you, want to know you better, and refer their clients and connections to you.
9. Invest In A Website
As a small business owner, a search engine optimized website will be crucial in helping your business compete in the market. Did you know that 81% of U.S. customers rely on their own research before making a purchase? This means they are searching for your small business on social media, looking up reviews on Google, and, yes, looking for your website. With all the do-it-yourself websites on the market, you might attempt this yourself to save money. However, having a website that focuses on search engine optimization drastically increases your chances of reaching your customers and growing your small business.
10. Start Working On Your SEO
After creating business social media accounts and content for your website, it’s time to start making the algorithms work for you. Be aware that this process will take time, energy, and research, but it is well worth the investment to make these tools act as founding team members of your business. Conducting keyword research helps you discover what terms people search for in Google. For example, the search term “Dog Groomers” might also have “Pet Groomers” and “All-Natural Pet Grooming” as terms that people search to find your dog grooming business. Once you know what terms people are searching for, you can write blog posts, website pages, and Facebook posts using these terms to increase the chances of people finding you and your business. Learn more about SEO and how it can serve your business.
Start Your Business On The Right Foot With The Help Of Succeeding Small
Starting a small business means a long journey of learning, growing, and serving your customers. Our team of industry experts is eager to guide you throughout this journey. At Succeeding Small, we are passionate about partnering with small business owners like you to ensure you get the visibility you deserve through search engine optimization, professional web design, expert social media management, and much more! Schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you launch your small business and set you up for success!