If you’re ready to dive into entrepreneurship, a welcome and a warning: running your own business will be the most difficult–and rewarding–thing you’ve ever done. In no way should you think the path to success will be an easy one, but if you dedicate yourself to growing your business, you’ll find you love every minute of the journey.
That being said, there are a few things you need to take care of before you open your doors.
1. Choose a Name. It might seem that naming your business is an easy task, but there’s more to it than just coming up with something catchy. First and foremost, the name of your business should be easy to pronounce and easy to remember. It shouldn’t step on the toes of other local businesses, or cause confusion about whether there’s a connection to another business with a similar name, so search your city and state records to make sure the one you want isn’t taken.
2. Get a Domain Name. You’ll also want a domain name that relates to your business name, but with so many URLs already taken, you may have to move on to a variation of your company name, or choose a different ending (.biz is a popular one right now). Keep the URL short and easy to spell: it’s not necessary to include the entire company name, such as AbesFineJewelryandRepairShop.com, since it’s a pain for customers to type. If you can’t secure a URL with the company name, aim for keywords, such as MontrealWatchRepair.com, that will help you rank higher in search results.
3. Develop Your Brand Identity. Too many new business owners skimp on developing a logo for their brands, but having one is a must. This is the image that customers will associate with your company for the foreseeable future, so invest in an appealing logo designed by a professional.
4. Get Smart Web Copy on Your Site. I didn’t include “get a website” because that should be a given, but I did want to point out the importance of well-written web copy that utilizes keywords that you want to be found for. As in the example above, if you repair watches in Montreal, you should include phrases on each page of your website–such as “Montreal watch repair”–to help search engines know which search results to put your website under.
5. Get a Marketing Plan. Another area newbies don’t take seriously enough is marketing. No, you don’t need a giant budget to start marketing. You can do your own marketing with little to no money on social media sites and through a blog. You can build up from there.
6. Start a Blog. Speaking of blogs, you need one. This will be where you show off your expertise on your industry and draw in new potential clients. Write about what your audience cares about and do so consistently to build traffic.
7. Decide Who Does What. If you’re going to be a solopreneur, this step will be more in deciding how long you’ll take on every task. You must delegate! If you have a staff, assign specific tasks to each person so that nothing slips through the cracks and everything gets taken care of.
8. Set Up Your Business Structure. Another easy-to-ignore activity. But setting up your business as a corporation or Limited Liability Partnership can help you avoid potential headaches down the road, and can help protect your assets. Better to set it up before you start your business than later.
9. Get a Plan. While your business plan doesn’t need to be a 5-inch thick comprehensive overview of your business, it does need to address the key points of your business. What will you sell? Who are your key personnel? What’s your growth strategy? You can use this document to refer back to, and tweak as business strategies change.
10.Build a Nest Egg. Unless you’re like .00000000001% of new business owners, profit might be a struggle, at least at first. Make sure you have enough money to pay your business and personal expenses for the first few months, if not year. You might consider taking out a loan to help with this, but without established business credit, that might not be an easy task.
Once you’ve taken care of these ten items, you’re ready to rock and roll! Remember that building a business takes time, and it shouldn’t be a race. Enjoy the path that entrepreneurship takes you on!
For more great tips on starting a new business, please register for our free webinar, “How to Start a New Business,” February 6, 2013 at 1 pm Eastern.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips andInternet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Small Business Trends, CorpNet, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
Photo: Susan Payton