Even though starting a new business is easier than ever, it still a pretty big deal. It is not something to jump into unprepared.
I went to get coffee with a friend yesterday. It was a catching up/consulting session as she is starting up a new business and wanted some advice on where to start, what her priorities should be since she is on a limited budget. That reminded me of when I was starting out my side business and spent days on the internet and talking to people to make sure I was doing everything right. Turns out there isn’t a blue print that fits everything type of business, but there are a few key areas that seemed to come frequently. Starting a new business is hard, I won’t kid around about that, but once you have it going the learning curve is not too steep. A side business also helps with paying down debt fast, and achieving financial freedom. I also read a lot of Business books to make sure I understanding the logistics behind starting and running a new business.
I was lucky as mine is a webdesign and consulting company and I can work from anywhere with a laptop. This keeps the overheads very low. My team is spread out across North America and we communicate over email, and Google Chat, etc.
Obviously, every business will have different needs, starting up a daycare will need different materials than a consulting firm/a cake baking business, but the following are key things that need to set up properly so ensure that you are focusing on the important parts of starting a new business and not worrying about housekeeping.
- Register your business. I know this is simple, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t because they don’t want to claim the income. My opinion on the matter is that unless you register your business you can’t write off legitimate business expenses either. I mean, really, you are starting a new business, do it properly. Also, its the law.
- Set up a corporate identity. This can be as cheap or as expensive as you would like to make it. Personally, I would hire someone local(student) and allow them to use it as part of portfolio. Win-win. You need to make sure that everything is setup professionally. This will include your logo, business cards, envelopes, letterheads, etc. You wont need all of them printed right away, but its good to have the art work handy. Websites like 99designs and Elance are great if you have a few dollars to spend.
- Set up a new number.If youare serious about starting a new business, then act like it. There is nothing more annoying that people having your personal phone and calling you all the time for business matter. There are quite a few options; a second line at home or on your cell, or a virtual line. I like the virtual line option, especially if you have multiple people working with you.
- Determine whether you need a website. If you do but don’t have the financial means then perhaps find a friend who you can barter services with (if you are not technically inclined). I have a ton of friends that didn’t have the overhead to afford getting their sites setup but gave me other services instead. My mechanic fixed my car without charging me for labour. Needless to say, it was a win-win. Even if you don’t need a website right now, make sure you purchase your domain name just in case. Those can cost anywhere between $7-$14.95. Dont pay more than that. You can always use a cloud based storage service like Amazon.
- Have a really good accounting software. I personally love Fresh Books, and Wave Accounting. They are very easy to use, but there are tons of other options as well. Make sure you track every single penny.
When all of this is said and done, nothing is going to get you business like marketing yourself. Luckily, that could be done for free, if you use the right avenues. Explore social media channels and find ones that work for you. Build a really good network, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. People love talking about what they know, just ask for advice. Having the mentality that you are starting a new business all the time helps you be more conscious about how you act in public and what you spend your time and money on. There you go, an easy 5 step process to starting a new business, now all you have to do is find an idea for it.