Starting a new business can be daunting.
Just think about how many potentially great ideas there have been over the last 10 years that never actually grew into a business.
The most important step you can take towards starting your own business is pretty simple:
Sounds obvious, huh?
It can be difficult to get your head around how important this fact is. Everybody I have told this to has instantly had reservations and most start coming up with multiple excuses on the spot (It often feels like people spend more time coming up with excuses than they do actually planning their business ideas!)
Of course, it’s perfectly normal, even logical to have reservations when starting out. What’s important is ensuring that they are valid reservations, and not simply excuses that are holding you back. Some common reservations include:
- I’m not 100% what direction I want to take my business, so I’ll research some more and then do something about it later.
- I don’t know how to make a website.
- If I start now without a full idea of what I’m doing won’t my business fail? (Fear of failure is a big one that holds a lot of us back)
- I don’t have any spare cash right now to start up my business.
- I’ve never run my own business before, I don’t even know where to start.
If you have any other questions you would like answered, please feel free to comment below, or send me a private email here
This blog post will take you through 5 easy steps to starting your own business.
Step 1 – Getting started
There is a common misconception that to get started online is a task that requires a big investment upfront, knowledge of coding or website design and a large amount of time to invest to get yourself up and running.
So to debunk a few myths, while it does cost money to start a business, for many it costs less than you think.
The trick to getting started is to start small. Yes, you could pay a fancy designer $1,000’s to get yourself setup with a fancy looking website but you can actually get a professional look from just a simple WordPress theme and with a professional looking domain name for a fraction of that cost.
To help you guys out I’ve written a simple guide on getting your website up and running with WordPress in under 15 minutes.
As I explain in my guide, doing this doesn’t require a large investment of time to get yourself started and linking into this it requires no prior knowledge of coding or website design.
I myself have often put off the idea of setting up my own site even though I have close friends who code websites for a living, mainly because I was worried I couldn’t manage it on my own and I didn’t want to bother them with helping me in the setup process. I was pleased to find out how quick and simple it was to get started.
Step 2 – Coming up with a business plan
Now, this is the one that sends many a potentially new entrepreneur running for the hills.
“Why would I need a business plan when my business isn’t even setup yet?”
As the ever great Benjamin Franklin said:
Personally, I do not believe in big business plans, and let me emphasize that a little harder…
I DO NOT BELIEVE IN SCARY HUGE BUSINESS PLANS.
…phew sorry there guys, this one really gets to me.
The purpose of a business plan should be to give yourself a clear direction at this stage of what you want your business to be. Think of your business plan as your compass in the dark. Have you ever wondered off into the dark side of the internet with a clear idea that when you started you were going to reply to all those work emails and 7 hours later whilst dribbling asleep on your keyboard with a cat video playing in the background you wonder how you got off track? You didn’t have a plan and that’s how you got distracted.
Your business plan is your roadmap.Success in your chosen pursuit is easier to achieve if you have a clear vision for where your business is heading, even in the short term.
But remember to follow the golden rule.
The KISS Principle.
Keep it simple…stupid!
Let me show you my original business plan for Let’s Get Jobless.
This plan took me around 15 minutes to come up with, but the trick to reaching your end goal is to follow the plan. Whenever you start any new project, just take 5 minutes to jot down on a notepad or in an empty word document a few small tasks that you want to finish to complete the project. Then you can refer back to it every 10-15 minutes to make sure you’re on track and not procrastinating! (That’s what I do, it helps to keep me focused.)
It’s very easy to disappear to a different website to acquire an image for the post you’re writing, only to become distracted by a blog post that caught your eye, to then land on the twitter page of the author who wrote the post, to then jump through your Twitter feed to… you get the idea.
So to clarify on Step 2, a plan is important but if you’re spending more time on your plan than your actual business then it’s time to rethink. If you find yourself taking longer than 20 minutes, stop. Jot down a few points on what you want to accomplish. Set yourself a deadline. Set yourself some goals within that deadline. Don’t overwhelm yourself, keep it simple. And don’t sweat it if you don’t hit the deadline, guess what? You’re the boss, so just let yourself off and set a new goal.
This can be tough to figure out at first, and I have known some entrepreneurs and business owners who have only come up with their own USP (unique selling point) after operating their businesses for a long time. However, if you can nail a great niche and have a fantastic USP, it’s something that you can shout about loudly and be proud to have.
By highlighting what makes you different to the competitors and making your business stand out from the crowd, you’ll find every task you take on becomes easier, readers will be effortless to come by and your super-fans will happily spread the word about you. (After all, they are your super fans!)
Similarly, missing out on setting yourself up with an effective USP can be tough, and a constant struggle.
So with all the competition there is on the internet, you’ve got to think:
What's going to make my reader want to come to me and my site?
And remember, it’s not about simply being the best
There are so many people competing in the online space that having the best-looking blog, the best-written content or the most desirable product simply isn’t enough to be successful, that’s just the price of admission.
When you’re a small business it’s hard to compete with the big boys, but there are plenty of examples of businesses who decided instead of trying to compete with the bigger companies that their formulae for success was to not compete at all.
What those companies choose to do instead was to become the best at what no-one else is even attempting.
Instead of playing the game they couldn’t win, they changed the game.
And that is the power of a unique selling point, you can be the best at something by simply being the only one doing it.
Top tips for coming up with your own USP
Use your personality – After all, there’s only one you, right? When you’re a small business you have a fantastic opportunity to make a powerful difference. Making your own mark on your business can give you something that nobody else can replicate. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of somebody that does this to perfection.
Think about fusing your business – If you’ve got a fantastic business idea but it’s been done before, think about fusing that idea with something completely different to create something unique. Group-on is a great example of a business that fused collective buying power and the social web. (Pitch-perfect gave us mash-ups in songs, why not do it in your business?)
Narrow down your audience – This is a great tip. Every man and his dog has heard of marketing, there are marketers everywhere. How do you compete with that? Get specific.
How about online marketers for pet groomers? How many specialists are there in that field? If you can be the no.1 marketer for pet groomers, who do you think a pet groomer looking for marketing is going to come to? You of course!
Narrow down your topic – I was speaking to my stepdad about this during the weekend. He is a car mechanic by trade and I was explaining about the whole idea of blogging and setting up his own site. Now if he opened up a car repair website he would be competing with a lot of competitors! But if he launched a blog focused on classic car repairs for Fords and Triumphs, that would be a much narrower topic to focus on and he would have a much greater chance of ranking highly against any competition.
Step 4 – Setting Goals…SMART Goals
This is often an area which is the hardest to grasp when starting out a new venture, we all want to see immediate results for our hard work. Yet we do sometimes set ourselves unrealistic or unattainable goals in the immediate future and this can leave us disinterested or feeling like we have failed. One trick I love to use is to set myself SMART goals.
You can download a full PDF Guide for free on what SMART goals are and how to use these to setup your own goals and objectives, just click on the link!
Now it’s often challenging, especially for entrepreneurs to set firm goals. The trouble I always had was whenever I had an idea I wanted to grab a pen or a keyboard and just get stuck straight into it and didn’t want to plan! I always worried that if I stopped, I’d loose interest and any momentum. But actually setting SMART goals can have the opposite effect, using this technique below you will be able to accomplish the following things:
- See your goals realized.
- Feel like you’re making progress towards your goals.
- Have a great structure to modify your ambitions and to think about what’s next for your business/goal.
- Gain momentum for your goals and push on to achieve bigger and greater goals.
Step 5 – Register your business
Here in the UK if you want to take any money in your business you need to register with the tax man! Initially, I found the whole thought process of this terrifying since I wanted to set up my business on the side whilst I was still working full time. I wasn’t going to be taking any money from my readers in the first 6 months, however, I may have ended up doing some freelance work on the side.
If you’re not taking money straight away and are first building your business this step you could skip for now but it’s actually a relatively easy process to go through.
In the UK the two main options you have (and there are a ton of options out there) are to be a sole trader or to open a Limited company. A sole trader is the easier option of the two due to a less complicated process but you may have tax benefits by setting up as a limited company. I would always advise going to a local accountancy firm and getting a free consultation so as to assess which option would be better for you. (Most will give you an hour free then offer you a package at the end, which you can decline or say you need time to think about) For more details on how to set yourself up as a sole trader click here, or as a limited company click here.
For America, the rules are different. I believe you need to register your business name with your state government, learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.
I’d advise anybody from any country to check with your local tax office to find out all the information so as to make sure you’re fully legal when working.
Now go do it!
Hopefully, this has given you some guidance on just a few tips you can look at to getting your business started today!
Where they’re any topics in this post you didn’t fully understand or thought you could add value to? Get stuck into the comments below and I’ll get back to you.