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Starting a business is a daunting task with so much to remember. Some tasks need to be completed in an order, and some need to be done simultaneously. This check off list will help direct you: The numbered ones you can complete in sequence but the numbered ones with * need to be completed at the same time before you put them all into action.
- Each of us has something we would do for free or are doing for free. We good at it. It comes naturally. What is that thing?
- If you don’t know, ask others. Often friends and family can see our passions better than we can. Gather information and decide how true it rings to you.
- For example: I have a friend who is really good at organizing events. She does it for family gatherings, holidays, work parties, etc. This is something most of us would groan about, but she does it happily and she’s great at it. Today she is a highly sought after event planner, and is especially great at weddings and corporate events. She turned her natural talent and passion into a business. What’s yours?
__2) Pain Point:
- What problem do you see for your potential client that you can solve?
- For example: Green cleaning products because a child had a severe allergic reaction, Swiffer wet jets that are much faster and easier than mops and mop buckets, pre-made salads parts to be made up in 1 minute, crock pots so you can slow cook all day and have dinner ready when you walk in the door later. All these solve a pain point for clients.
__3) Product (or the solution to the pain point)
- What will this be?
- Drop shipping
- Wholesale or retail
- Count the cost
- Gross = the most (what you’ll charge)
- Net = what you get after all costs
- Is it feasible? Is it profitable?
- Is it time consuming?
- Figure out your time spent – costs and you’ll have the true per hour pay…then decide if that’s ok with you.
__4) Your Story
- Who are you and why you do what you do. People connect with people emotionally before they will spend money with you. Tell them your story.
- Pick two colors that best represent you and the business you’re considering.
- For example: if it’s baby clothes, your choices might be soft mint and yellow, or pinks and blues. But if you’re advertising towing, you might want to think about bolder contrasting colors.
- Remember these same colors will be on your website, your business cards, brochures, social media, billings, packaging, etc.
__5) Business Name*
- 2-3 word name, unique but not difficult to spell.
- Short and memorable so clients can remember it.
- Does your name fit your business? Will clients know what you’re selling. The name Fixer doesn’t tell me anything about your business—fix what? Be specific. The Yard Fixer, The Cabinet Fixer, The Car Fixer—see the difference?
- Search it out on Go Daddy or a domain site
- Search state licensing for availability.
- Search similar names just in case someone misspelling your name doesn’t run into a site you don’t want to be associated with.
- Search Facebook for availability
- STEP 5 IS THE TOUGHEST STEP TO GET THROUGH!
__6) Build a Logo
- Make it something easy to recognize that is authentic to you and your business.
- You want people to recognize you anywhere
- Remember this logo will be on your website, your business cards, your Facebook page (social media), perhaps even hats, shirts, etc. So be sure it’s something you like and fits you and your business—it will become your brand. Like the name Target and their target logo…it’s so recognizable that if you were in a foreign country, you’d still recognize it.
- This might be a good time to hire someone to build your logo. Set a budget and shop around. You can always start with fiver.com
__7) Build your Website* (be sure you’ve finished #5 completely)
- Even if it’s only a 1 page “This is us” type page, make sure you put in these items:
- Why you’re different
- Name and Tagline
- Your story (why you do what you do)
__8) Business Cards
- Use your name, your tag line, your contact info and your LOGO
- You can begin to build secondary pages and I suggest you do that for residual product income. But to get started, get your first page up.
__9) Email Capture
- Get a ‘Sign up for our newsletter’ pop up.
- This will serve as a place to send out notices, coupons, weekly specials, etc. Email names are gold in the industry of small businesses today.
__10)SEO – Search Engine Optimization
- How will your clients find you? Understanding SEO’s can make or break your traffic to your website.
- Hook up a newsletter program like MailChimp or any other one that integrates with your website well.
- Learn how to make short but enticing emails and writing content. (Watch for our short course in this area)
- Set a schedule for when they arrive in your clients’ email. Doing it on the same day once a week will train them to look for it.
- Don’t abuse your clients. Too many emails will get you booted. Too few and they’ll wonder if you’re serious. A general rule of thumb is 1-2 a week.
- Learn how to hotlink content in your newsletter that leads directly to products or services.
___12)Know when to hire someone else
- Learning new things is exciting but also time consuming. Know when to let go and hire someone else to do the work. For example: If you need a website, and don’t know how, hire someone to build it, and then perhaps maintain it. You could spend 100 hours learning how to build your site, where a professional could have you up and running in 10 days or so.
- Ask for help –‘nuff said
__13) Boundary Setting
- Building a business is exhausting on its best days, remind yourself you’re in for the long run and set a work schedule.
- Start and stop times and days off.
- Train yourself to respect these boundaries
- Train your family to respect these boundaries
- Train your clients to respect these boundaries
- Remind yourself, people respect people more when the boundaries are clear. You look ‘together’ rather than scattered and undependable.
__14) The Pitch or Elevator Speech
- You’re in an elevator, going from floor 1 to floor 3, someone asks you, “So what do you do?” You have 10 seconds to name and describe your business in such a way that they ask for more information. Can you do it in 25 words or less? You should.
- Practice on people who don’t know what you do. When you’re done ask them if they can tell you what you do. If you must re-explain, you’re not there yet.
- This is like a cover letter only shorter! Get it tight, get it right, get them interested. It’s an informative teaser.
- Unique advertising gets you noticed.
- Join local networking groups
- Build a brochure and start passing them around
- Create postcards and mail them to potential customers or convince friends and family to pass them out for you.
- Every client that buys from you gets a coupon for 10% off their next purchase when their friends buy.
- Use Facebook to generate leads and sales.
- Vendor shows are a great networking tool, not always the best in sales, but excellent visibility.
- Have fun, be creative.
I hope this check off list is helpful. I’m always glad to help. There’s more to learn in our Build Your Own Business Online Workshop. It’s on demand on your time!
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