10 Steps to Start a Small Business

10 Steps to Start a Small Business
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10 steps that are required to start a business successfully. Take one step at a time, and you’ll be on your way to successful small business ownership.

1: Do Your Research

Most likely you have already identified a business idea, so now it’s time to balance it with a little reality. Does your idea have the potential to succeed? You will need to run your business idea through a validation process before you go any further.

In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants.

There are a number of ways you can identify this need, including research, focus groups, and even trial and error. As you explore the market, some of the questions you should answer include:

  • Is there a need for your anticipated products/services?
  • Who needs it?
  • Are there other companies offering similar products/services now?
  • What is the competition like?
  • How will your business fit into the market?

 

 2: Make a Plan

You need a plan in order to make your business idea a reality. A business plan is a blueprint that will guide your business from the start-up phase through establishment and eventually business growth, and it is a must-have for all new businesses.

3: Plan Your Finances

Starting a small business doesn’t have to require a lot of money, but it will involve some initial investment as well as the ability to cover ongoing expenses before you are turning a profit. Put together a spreadsheet that estimates the one-time startup costs for your business (licenses and permits, equipment, legal fees, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, trademarking, grand opening events, property leases, etc.), as well as what you anticipate you will need to keep your business running for at least 12 months (rent, utilities, marketing and advertising, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, your own salary, etc.).

4: Choose a Business Structure

Your small business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability partnership(LLP) or a corporation.

5: Pick and Register Your Business Name

Your business name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Make sure you think through all of the potential implications as you explore your options and choose your business name.

Once you have chosen a name for your business, you will need to check if it’s trademarked or currently in use. Then, you will need to register it. A sole proprietor must register their business name with either their state or county clerk. Corporations, LLCs, or limited partnerships typically register their business name when the formation paperwork is filed.

Don’t forget to register your domain name once you have selected your business name. Try these options if your ideal domain name is taken.

6: Get Your Team Ready

If you will be hiring employees, now is the time to start the process. Make sure you take the time to outline the positions you need to fill, and the job responsibilities that are part of each position. The Small Business Administration has an excellent guide to hiring your first employee that is useful for new small business owners.

7: Promote Your Small Business

Once your business is up and running, you need to start attracting clients and customers. You’ll want to start with the basics by writing a unique selling proposition (USP) and creating a marketing plan. Then, explore as many small business marketing ideas as possible so you can decide how to promote your business most effectively.

What is brand building?

The definition of brand building is to generate awareness about your business using marketing strategies and campaigns with the goal of creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace.

In 2019, the amplification of your brand image can be done effectively through various digital marketing activities:

  • User Experience (i.e. your website)
  • SEO & Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Paid Advertising (PPC)

Together, these channels are fundamental to gaining brand awareness and growth. We’ll dive into each of these elements in detail, later!

How to Build a Brand

1. Determine your brand’s target audience.

The foundation for building your brand is to determine the target audience that you’ll be focusing on.

You can’t be everything to everyone, right?

When brand building, keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach. You’ll tailor your mission and message to meet their exact needs.

2. Establish a brand mission statement.

Have you thought about your brand mission? In essence, you’ll have to craft a clear expression of what your company is most passionate about.

This is your why; the reason you get up every day.

Before you can build a brand that your target audience trusts, you need to know what value your business provides.

The mission statement basically defines a purpose for existing. It will inform every other aspect of your brand building strategies.

Everything from your logo to your tagline, voice, message, and personality should reflect that mission.

Building Brand Awareness in 2019

Now that you know the steps for creating a brand successfully, I want to quickly go over the components needed to really set up a good digital foundation to build upon.

These are the key elements my own brand agency executes on when we build brands for businesses just like yours. Let’s review the ways to build brand awareness through:

  • Marketing
  • Engagement
  • Community building

Website User Experience

Your website is the most important marketing tool you have for business growth and brand building.

This is the place that your consumers will visit to learn more about your business, and take action when they are ready. Not only does the user experience have to be exceptional in order to convert, but your messaging needs to tell your brand story.

SEO and Content Marketing

One of the most effective long-term ways to increase brand awareness and generate relevant organic traffic to your website is search engine optimization (SEO) and the right content.

There are many ways to achieve positioning in search engine results. Aim to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing the major search engine ranking factors, as well as creating highly valuable content that satisfies user intent.

Here’s the deal:

A defined content marketing strategy will help you better connect with your target audience and support them through their customer journey—building brand trust to ultimately result in conversions.

Most importantly, the foundation piece for your SEO and content publishing efforts will always be your website’s blog.

When building a blog for your brand, you’ll want to consider:

  • Which content will resonate with your target audience?
  • How will the content get found in organic search results?
  • When is the optimal frequency and scheduling of publishing?
  • What is the plan for promoting the content?

Social Media

Savvy consumers frequently use social networks to make the decision to purchase from a brand—over 74% of them!

How can your brand best educate, communicate and engage with customers and clients through social media?

Social media marketing best practices include the following activities:

  • Curating relevant content
  • Publishing original content
  • Engagement and community building
  • Paid advertising

A well-defined social media strategy will

Email Marketing

Did you know your highest click-through rate will come from the emails you send to your list? Don’t underestimate the power of list building early on in your brand building process.

Think of your email marketing list as your most close-knit community, and treat your subscribers as such.

You can build a brand subscriber list through various opt-in forms on your website, such as:

  • Pop Ups
  • Sidebars
  • Scroll Mats
  • Slide-ins
  • Lead magnet forms
  • Landing page forms

The right content, at the right time, to the right person is critical for driving traffic to your website and increasing conversions from email. What’s more, not all email messages need to be sales-driven, as consumers are in different points of the buyer journey.

Use the following types of email campaigns when targeting specific audiences within your marketing funnel.

  • Promotional (standard/seasonal)
  • Non-promotional (blog)
  • Newsletter
  • Welcome series
  • Drip campaign
  • Cart abandonment (ecommerce)

help determine what to achieve in order to better connect with your community.

Every brand should be represented consistently across all social media networks via the posting of relevant, high-quality content. With social media, your aim for consumers is first to gain trust. Then become loyal. And then, advocate for your brand’s products and services.

Paid Advertising

Building a successful paid advertising campaign for your brand comes with a unique set of challenges. There are multiple elements that contribute to the overall effectiveness of your pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

A strong paid ads campaign on platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook relies heavily on:

  • Smart paid advertising goals
  • A well-defined target audience
  • Clear organization / campaign structure
  • Tracking performance meticulously
  • Compelling creative copy and design
  • Split-testing for optimization
  • Using the right keywords

Analytics & Reporting

Ongoing, you’ll want to monitor progress in key areas month-over-month and year-over-year. From this data, tweaks to your brand building and marketing activity can be made to leverage those tactics which show the most opportunity.

Analytics reporting should always support the strategic goals and KPIs for your business.

It always comes as a huge surprise that 75% of small business sites do not use analytics tools to track performance!

Your first step is ensuring that your website has Google Analytics installed. This tool is free and will give you loads of valuable information about user behaviors. It also allows you to set up goals to track conversion.

 

 


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