So you have a great idea right ? Or you have been making something that family and friends love, and with their support and encouragement you're ready to turn your passion project into a business ?
I have been working on branding strategy, development and design with start-ups for over a decade now and have learnt that the most difficult projects are when the client isn’t quite sure on what the business is/does or where it is going.
One of the hardest things for me as a designer is to create a beautiful brand with so much potential for growth and such a unique authentic crafted brand story - only for the business to fail or never start in the first place.
Because of this I decided to write this blog outlining the first 5 steps to setting up your own business.
Step 1: Write a Business Plan
I think this is the step most people skip. If you’re in a service based business I think a lot of people just get stuck in doing-what-they-do and don’t think about where it’s going. In product/retail maybe they start small and figure it out as you go. But whichever it is, getting your price point right by figuring out the costs involved to make your business viable is time well spent early on. Some questions to ask yourself in preparing your business plan.
What do I love to do/produce the most that makes the most profit?
Where will I lose time ( eg. admin, social media, client face-to-face, deliveries etc)?
How long do I want to do this for?
Will I look at selling the business at any stage?
What are my 1,5 and 10 years goals for the business?
What are my overheads ( even if working from home there is accounting, accounting software, website hosting, website domain, social media advertising costs, material/supplies costs)?
These are just a few ideas to consider when planning on going out in business. Charging an accurate price for your product/service from the beginning will give you a more professional vibe to your business.
Step 2. Name your Business
I know this might seem obvious, but the naming of your business is very important. If you use your own name and want to sell the business down the line it might not be as appealing to your potential buyer. Also naming can be very difficult in terms of what is available in domains and trademarks. You may need to hire an IP lawyer if your business is product based to investigate this for you. Once you have found a name that is available whether you plan to make a website today or you’re not even sure you’ll have one - secure the domain. Domains are like real estate these days, some people purchase them and sit on them waiting for you to need them and then sell them for inflated prices sometimes in the thousands. This might affect whether you want to name your business this so it pays to check this out early.
Step 3: Establish your niche and target market
A great investment of your time and money early on in business is to take the time to survey or test your product/service on your customer base. You could offer free product/service while building your business in trade for reviews and feedback on how you can improve. You can never be too humble and this ensures you iron out all the kinks in your service delivery before you launch to market and get ‘crickets’. New Zealanders in particular are very shy when it comes to giving critical feedback. You don’t want negative reviews in public places such as your Google Business listing or Facebook - because of an oversight in your process. Test and test again, refine your offering. The customer is always right as they say. The beauty of social media is there is a whole audience out there for you to ask for feedback from the comfort of your own home.
Step 4: Check out your competitors
Now yes, this is a rabbit warren you can dive into and get lost in ‘comparisonitis’ but don’t let this process negatively affect you starting your business. Just view it as a research project. What are you going to do differently that makes your business special or different? Write this down as your offering. What gap do you fill in the market? What problem do you solve for your customers? Then make sure you are capitalising on sharing this when telling your brand story to customers. Make note of what your competitors are doing that you don’t like or doesn’t align with your brand values and then make sure to promote this to find your own audience.
Step 5: Set up your Systems
If you have completed steps 1-4 you will be feeling really clear on what your business is and where you are heading with it. You may have already started selling at this point. Something I wish that I had spent more time on in the beginning of starting my business was setting up systems. It’s really hard to do when you’re busy and can be a real headache later to backtrack. It may seem expensive now, but I highly recommend getting setup with accounting software as early as possible. Do not rely on bits of paper and bank statements. Also if you are not numbers savvy an accountant will give you the peace of mind that you are not going to have the tax man banging down your door in the dark of night ( kidding… this only happens in my paranoid dreams). Have your bases covered and put aside a portion like 20% of everything you make to ensure you have enough saved come tax time. Have your onboarding forms and documents, your business bank account, and your business email all set up early on to make your admin streamlined and professional and not frustrate your soon to be loyal customer base. People return when the process is easy - they quickly give up if it’s a headache. You have all the time in the world to set up systems before you are busy so don’t fret about not having customers yet - and use the time wisely.
If you have completed steps 1-5 you are ready for the fun part - branding!! I love helping passionate small business owners on their journey to creating a beautiful authentic brand. But without steps 1-5 many miss out on the benefits of this process as they are unsure of what their business really is yet. We work together on branding strategy and confirm steps 1-5 quickly to design a unique brand style that tells the story elegantly of your business and attracts your target market to your business. If you are interested in finding out more about branding design packages please check out the packages link above.
Thanks for reading