Startup: Announcing Yourself to the World

 

You've decided on your business.  You picked a name.  You setup at domain.  It's time to dip your toe in the online pool. 

The first step to taking your business officially online is to create a pre-launch page.  It's not quite a website, but it's a teaser that shows the world that you are officially in business. 

This is the time to get people excited about your upcoming launch.  Create a one page pre-launch page with a countdown timer and an email signup to start building up your customer base.

 

 

Startup: Keeping Track of Your Leads (aka Future Customers)

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Leads are the key to startup success.  Keeping track of those leads is essential to your success.  There are lots of applications to help you keep track of all those leads. 

One of the easiest and most affordable options is MailChimp.  This free online option will help you keep track of all of those potential future clients in one place.  You can create a variety of custom lists based on specific clients and send email blasts from one central place. 

As you build your website, include a signup form to help you collect their contact information and send a "thank you" for sharing their info.

Startup: Hire a Writer to Put Your Business Into Words

There comes a time that most startups realize that there is a lot of writing involved with getting a business up and rolling.  The unfortunate reality is that not all entrepreneurs are great writers. 

Once you come to terms with the fact that there are a lot of other things you would like to do with your time than spin your wheels trying to put pen to paper, you will realize that there are professional writers out there who love to spend their hours putting your business into words.

Unless you are naturally good at writing copy, you will get more bang for your buck finding someone who can do a lot of the wordy work for you.  A writer can create the content for your website, draft your business plan, create articles / blog posts, develop presentations, and even manage your social media for you. 

A professional writer can help you check off all those essential documents from your startup to-do list while you focus on actually running your business.

Startup: It's All in the (Domain) Name

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It's a reality in today's marketplace that you will need a website.  You can still startup offline, but getting online is a critical step to your overall success. 

Once you have settled on a name for your business, you need to secure a domain name that can help drive customers to your business.  The first step is picking out a domain name. 

In days gone by, a company would pick out a domain name that was the same as your product or brand name.  Today, it is increasingly difficult to find an available domain name so you may need to get creative at least in the .com realm.  You can start by adding some action words that complement your business.  Think strong words such as Get or Go

If having a strict .com isn't critical for your business, you can opt to go with an alternate hosting platform such as a .net, .io, or .org.  The downside to this option is that the traditional .com to our web searches so think about your audience before buying an alternative domain.

 

 

Startup: Are You Ready to Launch?

The idea of running your own business sounds promising to many, but in reality most people aren't equipped to start their own business. Before you start down the path to opening a business, you need to ask yourself a few tough questions to see if you have what it takes to enter the world of entrepreneurship.

Leadership: Are you a leader or a follower? Am you decisive or do you second guess your decisions? An entrepreneur needs a certain comfort in making decisions and living with the outcomes.

Adaptability: Can you roll with the punches and take on a wide variety of roles? An entrepreneur needs to be able to take on a wide range of new duties and multitask. Being able to adapt and learn new function is a necessary skill for the successful entrepreneur.

Enthusiasm: Are you excited about the product or services you are offering? You've got to have passion for the service or product in order to successfully launch. You are ultimately the walking billboard for your business and have to be able to sell it to potential clients.

Uncertainty: Can you handle the uncertainty of not receiving a paycheck every Friday or the sudden inflow of a flood of orders? The one thing that is certain with every startup, everything is completely uncertain. You need to be able to adapt and have a certain expectation that things aren't always going to go as planned.

Time Management: Can you manage time well and keep a home-work balance? For many new entrepreneurs, the tendency to work 24/7 can be overwhelming. A successful entrepreneur needs to maintain a balance for the benefit of their business and lifestyle.

Startup: It's All About Location, Location, Location

When it comes to starting your own business, it's all about location, location, location.  That location could be the ritzy retail location downtown or it could be the comfort of your own kitchen table. 

As you start to think about your business location, really give some consideration to how you will use the space.  Will customers come to see you?  Will they need someplace to park?  Can you work from home and still stay sane?  Will you be hiring employees? 

It is important that you are realistic when you think about your space needs.  If employees and clients are coming to see you, give a home office a whirl.  If a home office isn't really an option, take a look at what shared workspace options are available. If a shared workspace isn't available, look at month-to-month locations until you are sure your business volume will support the cost.

If you do decide that you are going to need a physical location, consider your current business needs.  Take into account the number of employees you plan on hiring, the equipment that you need to run your business, and the space that you need to grow. 

Take your time to look at all the options in your market.  When you find the right one, get ready to roll up your sleeves to negotiate.  Find out what utilities are included, if the landlord will do any improvements, and the length of the term of the lease. 

Startup: Determining Your Business Strategy

Once you have decided to start your own business and you've taken the first steps in determining what your business will be, it's time to get busy strategizing.  This is not the part where you figure out the step-by-step plan for your business, this is the part where you think in broad strokes about what you want to accomplish and a basic roadmap on how to get there. 

Mission.  Vision. Goals.  Targets.  Oh, my.....

The first step is to figure out what you will do as a business.  It is also the time to define what you won't do.  Brainstorm who your customers will be.  Determine how you will define success.  Decide how you want to grow and expand.

Setting the strategy is designed to help you focus on the items that are really important to you as a business owner and discard the items that are not.  It will help set the priorities on where you will distribute your startup budget and where you don't need to focus quite yet. 

The better you can define your roadmap early in the process, the easier your path to success will be.

Startup: Figuring Out Your Startup Business

Adulting is tough.  You need to make decisions.  Small business is tough too.  You need to make even more choices. 

The very first step is to figure out what you want to do when you startup.  Retail?  Service? Full-Time? Part-Time? There are so many choices, it can make your head spin. 

Before you do anything, you need to decide what you are going to sell and who you are going to sell it to.   First, figure out what you are good at and what you like doing.  Second, you need to decide what you consider a success.  Do you want to roll in the profits?  Do you want to give back to the community? Take whatever you are passionate about and make it the base for what you do  

Once you have decided what you want to do, you need to start looking at who your customers will be. Direct to the end consumer?   Business to business?  Start to define your target market and figure out how to reach them. During this early startup phase, the ideas will come fast and furious.  Write them all down.  You will find yourself revisiting them and fine tuning them as the business starts to take shape.