Starting your own business can be a really daunting prospect. There's so much to consider - what’s your product? How will you make money? How will you tell people about what you do? Will you sell online or in person? How will you manage to run a business alongside family or other work commitments?
Where to even begin?
Here are the seven key elements you’ll need to consider if you want to start your own small business.
1. Come up with an idea
What kind of business you want to start? Look for where you’re inspired for ideas - social media feeds that you love, brilliant work you’ve done in the past, or even what you find yourself doing for friends a lot can point to a work idea that you’ll enjoy.
2. Decide on what you’ll sell & how
How are you going to make money? Will you sell a product or a service? Will you sell in person or online? All businesses need a website, so you can be found through online searches.
3. Who will buy from you?
Identify who you're selling to by defining the problem you're solving. Who is the person who'll benefit most from your product or service? This is your ideal customer. Think of them as loyal fans, who you’re aiming to continually serve.
4. Making a noise so you get noticed
Whether selling locally or just online, you need to get noticed. Write a blog, publish tutorial videos of your own, sharing what you know about your industry or what you do. Try to be useful, interesting or entertaining (even all three!). Make sure you’ve got a way of collecting emails for your own mailing list - these are the people who are genuinely interested in your product, and will refer you if they like what you publish, or even become customers themselves one day.
5. Manage time & money properly
Forget about a business plan, they’re a waste of time. Try this one pager from Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup - much more simple, much more sensible. Automate social media posting if you’re doing it regularly, to avoid disappearing into the Facebook abyss every single night. Log all money coming in and going out - know what it’s costing to run, or you might find you're just financing an expensive hobby.
6. Get it up and running
Get yourself into action by creating a plan - 1. Make a to-do list - include everything. 2. Give every action a deadline. 3. Reorder your list so it’s chronological. 4. Start working your way through the actions, one by one. The only way to get the work done is to do the work.
7. Keep learning
There are podcasts, tutorials, books, Facebook groups - a whole world of support out there, people just like you who are either doing what you’re doing, or who’ve just done it and want to help you - across any industry. Find your tribe, build your network and ask for help.
There's a lot of hard work involved in working for yourself, and there’ll be times when you'll want to jack it in. You need patience and courage - it’ll all take much longer than you think. Just remember why you're doing this and be proud of yourself that you’ve even started - so many don’t. You’ll get there, and if you don’t (which happens), you’ll know better for next time around.