If you’re anything like me, you hate it when things start to get monotonous. You’ve had an idea in your head for months, maybe years, and you’re starting to feel that it’s now or never. It’s time to set up your small business venture.
Whether it’s a blog, an online business, setting up an Ebay shop – it’s all possible if you get yourself in the right frame of mind.
Here are a few simple, easy steps to help you in the right direction.
1. Start actioning, stop thinking
There are 50 million excuses for not actually starting something. I don’t have time, I’m too busy, my cat needs feeding – stop making excuses for yourself. Set time aside to write down your niggly idea before it disappears for good. Buy a notebook, write your idea on the first page and dedicate that book to building your idea into a reality.
2. Check out the competition
Does anyone else do what you’re thinking of doing? If you’d love to sell funky socks just because you love socks, is there anyone else online who does it already? Anyone in your local area? If so, here a few things you can write down in that notepad I mentioned earlier:
- Where are they selling the product? Ebay, online via paypal, etc .
- What does their website look like if they have one?
- What are they doing well? - What could they do better?
- How do they promote themselves? On instagram, Facebook, etc?
- How much do they charge for the product and for shipping?
- Do they offer promotions?
- If it’s a service, how is this service sold successfully?
3. Plan like you’ve never planned before
Once you’ve done the 2 steps above,you’re brain should be working overtime. You’ll probably be very excited at this point about what you can do. So, now, you need a plan. Grab that notepad and write down a list (ah, the love of a list) of things you need to do. For instance:
- Save up some money as capital for my venture/raise money
- Get a website
- Get an Ebay, Etsy or other account and set myself up
- Do a budget plan
- Buy stock
- Write a business plan
- Promote myself once the above is complete
Of course, your list will likely be more extensive, but you get the general idea.
4. Action your plan and don’t worry
At this point, you’re probably looking at your list and thinking ‘Oh my God, I don’t know how to do half this stuff’. Don’t worry, there is a book or blog for everything these days. Here are my recommendations:
If you don’t know much about websites, this can seem like a mine field. There are a few main things you’ll need to think about:
- Your web address (yourbusinessname.com)
- Hosting your website
- Finding someone to make your website
- Your budget/timeframe
- What do you want your website to look like?
- Use your competitor information from earlier to build on your ideas
I highly, highly, highly recommend reading the following book:
Be awesome at online business
By Paul Jarvis
Buy it here: Amazon UK
It’s written in a no-nonsense way to guide you, very simply, through the website design/build and promotion process and how to go about it in the best possible way.
And one more thing! Make sure you have Google Analytics set up on your website. This is an excellent way of looking at how much traffic your website gets, when and which pages your visitors are looking at. It’s an invaluable, free resource.
Yep, it’s that dreaded word. Boo! But, it doesn’t have to be awful. I suggest using a simple template to get you started, so you can plan financially.
Here’s an excellent Office template to get you started – simple, but effective:
Once you get to grips with how much you have available, you’ll need to put together a simple profit and loss account. There is a simple template available for small businesses here:
The website above is an excellent resource, offering balance sheet guidance and business plan advice once you’ve got yourself going.
Eventually, once you’re up and running you’ll need to think about accounting. This can also seem confusing, but I suggesting using simple, easy to use software to help with your accounting.
We use Kashflow – it’s a great system that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Further down the line, you may want to consider using an accountant but it won’t be something you’ll need to worry about imminently.
Once your website/online shop is up and running, you’ll need to promote it. This can involve, depending on your budget:
- Social Media (Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and many more)
- Blogging on a regular basis
- Leaflet Dropping
- Email Campaign
- Local newspaper advertising or advertising in a specialist magazine/blog
- Sales calling
You’ll need to set some time aside to do this yourself every week, or if money allows you, find a local company that can support your marketing efforts.
If you decide it’s best to use your own resources, ensure that anything you do is:
Consistent: If you’re going to blog or set up a Facebook page, post regularly and write engaging and informative posts for your audience.
Relevant: Find out about your target audience, who they are and what they want to read/see.
Timely: If you want to send out an offer to promote a discount, think about the best time to send it out. For example, if you’re selling socks, maybe you could consider a back to school range to promote during the summer holidays.
Measured: Any marketing activity you do, whether it’s successful or not, ensure that you evaluate it. Look into the statistics (if available), find out what worked and what didn’t. For example, if you had a promotional page on your website, look at the stats from Google Analytics.
If you opt to have an external company support your marketing, they should be doing all of the above as well. From your point of view, you should make sure that the company you use:
Advises the best for your business: It’s easy to find people who agree with everything you say because it’s easier. But sometimes, you might genuinely need to hear an unbiased view advising you against something.
Make the most of your budget: They should research the best marketing avenues for your business and use your budget wisely. You should be able to see a marketing or campaign plan for your business.
Are easy to get hold of and communicate with: Once you’re in a contract, you don’t want to be stuck with a company that you can’t communicate with. No matter what size business you are, there should be regular meetings and phone conversations to keep you in the loop.
Have the same ethos as you do: Anyone representing your brand should be as passionate as you are about it. You need to find a company that understands your business, love what you do and possibly have the same ethos in their business. Don’t be afraid to ask about their company culture and look around at their staff/offices.
5. And finally…
Above everything, you need to have the motivation to drive the business forward. There will be tough days, maybe even tougher days. And then, you’ll have the best day ever when you have a happy customer/client.
Make sure you love what you’re doing and you have the support to keep moving forward.
I hope this advice inspires you to make your dream a reality.
CEO, Aspurian Digital Ltd