Making the decision to start your own company is never an easy one. It takes guts and passion to get into the start-up game. On top of that, all the planning and considerations you have to make ahead of time can appear overwhelming on first glance.
After you decide to move forward with starting your own business, there are several crucial steps you should go through during your intial setup phase. These will help streamline your business and set you up for success before you even file legal documentation. A few of the crucial steps you need to consider include: a business plan, a marketing plan, branding, and execution of day to day operations.
There is controversy over whether an official business plan is necessary prior to starting a new business. However, even if you choose to opt out of a traditional business plan there are several considerations that are typically included in a business plan that you should map out. You’ll want to have in mind what your business is going to do and how you are going to do it. Putting this into words as a formal mission and vision statement will drive the passion and direction for your endeavor.
You will also want to plan for operational activities such as staffing, human resources, and finances. Having a general idea of how your business will operate from day to day will help you iron out your services and how you are going to maintain a steady influx of work without getting overwhelmed.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that your business plan should be fluid! There’s no perfect business plan from the get-go, and you should adapt your business model based on how your business performs to optimize your success! If you’re not sure where to start with a business plan, I would suggest googling “business plan” and “your industry”. You’ll be amazed how many resources are out there! I have also found a useful tool through Pinterest, here.
Having a great business model, supreme services, and stellar employees doesn’t mean a whole lot if no one knows who you are, trusts your new brand, or understands your message. For these reasons, it’s important to have a marketing plan in place. Often, start-ups will have some initial clients that they start their business with. The true success of a start-up lays with the ability to grow past that point and expand into new revenue streams with new clients.
Again, even if you don’t feel that a formal marketing plan is crucial to your success within a particular industry or market, you should at least have a general idea of who you want to reach and how you are going to reach them. I would suggest conducting or purchasing market research and talking to people/companies that fall into your "ideal client" persona.
By understanding who your target audience is, where they interact with others online, and how they talk to each other, you can position your message in a way that attracts and resonates with them. If you need help with a marketing plan, Metova can help! Additionally, Hubspot now has a tool for a quick marketing plan generator to get you pointed in the right direction.
As a creative professional, I can’t tell you how many start-ups neglect branding. This is a mistake. Branding is more than just how “cool” your logo is or what colors you pick to put on your business cards. Branding encompasses the entirety of how you want to present yourself to potential clients.
Having a strong brand definition not only helps streamline all of your materials, digital presence, and message but it also helps build trust and credibility between you and new clients. For instance, would you trust a company that has no logo, no defined look, and no defined message with your time and money if there is an alternative that is clearly presenting themselves in a professional, united fashion? I would think not.
Be sure to take time to decipher what you want your brand to portray and put effort into your company’s branding. Metova can help get you started with logo design and brand definition! For further reference on how to leverage your brand, check out some of our other posts about naming, coloring, your logo, social media, brand voice, and typography for inspiration.
Managing the Day-to-Day
Great, so you have your rough business plan, you know how you want to market yourself, and your brand is clearly defined. Now it’s time to plan for how you’re going to execute on all of this! It’s time to put all your planning into action and make sure you can handle day to day tasks like hiring, selling, invoicing, time tracking, processing payment, etc.
Luckily, there are many tools that you can choose to adopt into your business that handle some or all of these daily functions, and let’s be honest, the simpler the better to help you navigate the start-up grind! Be sure to do your research on what tools you want to use to make sure you are optimizing your time and money. One tool we would suggest that can help you handle bills, accounting, invoicing and payments, contractors, and payroll would be QuickBooks. They even have cost-effective options for start-ups that allow you to function completely online.
In short, there’s no easy way to prepare yourself for a new business venture, but it’s a rewarding process that, if planned for properly, can go smoother than you think! Although there is a lot more that goes into a successful start-up than what I’ve mentioned here today, these key facets of a new business will get you started! If you want to discuss your business venture further, let Metova help you lay the groundwork for your new, exciting endeavor.
PS: I also enjoyed this quick reference to “Setting Up Shop” on Being Boss’ podcast.