So you're ready to start a business? Our top tips to hit the ground running!
You've got an amazing idea, you can see every detail of your brand new business panning out on your horizon, you're ready for the challenge and excited for the journey ahead - and we're so excited for you!
Running your own business is one of the most empowering things that you can do, it gives you freedom, it allows you to turn your dreams into reality, and we've all heard the phrase "be your own boss" right? So when we say we're excited for you, we really mean it. Above that, we want to be your personal toolkit for making sure that you tick every necessary box before you announce your launch and get going. From our experiences, there are a few vital things that people often forget to do before they get started that can cause more hard work post-launch. We're going to tell you all about them so that you can be well equipped to launch your dream business.
Check Your Business Name Hasn't Already Been Taken
Firstly, and we think most importantly, you need to check that the business name you've come up with hasn't already been taken by another business, especially another business that does the same sort of thing as you, within the same area. Why is this important? A few reasons - namely that when you are creating things like social media profiles and websites, you don't want to have to add a 123 to the end of your name to distinguish yourself from the other, very similar brand. What looks more professional to you:
Remember when you needed to create an msn username and yours was taken so you had to add an underscore somewhere you didn't want it, or a dash in the middle, or your birthday at the end? It's the same here. Customers might even go looking for apple123.com and end up going to apple.com because they forgot that yours ended in 123! You want to make your business stand out as much as possible - don't even worry if your name doesn't seem to have anything to do with your business, in fact, that's usually a good tactic to make sure you stand out from your competitors! Heck, you could even use a random word generator to generate your business name - whatever it is, make it unique.
It's not just having a unique website you should think about, you need to check that there aren't already social media pages set up with the name you've thought of, and even check Companies House to make sure someone hasn't registered a business with that name and doesn't own the trademark.
Think about it - all of these things are free to check, don't take long, and could save you a whole load of hassle in the future!
Two of our favourite words.
Sure, you can develop a brand identity as you go along, but you possibly don't realise how much more effective your business will be if you figure it out before you start and make sure it shines through EVERYTHING you do.
"But what even is brand identity?!" - of course, we didn't explain. Let's backtrack.
Logos, colour schemes, layouts, values, graphics, marketing messages, tone of voice, attitude to customer service, imagery, content, EVERYTHING that your customer sees from your business gives them an insight into your brand's identity. You need to make sure that you've figured this out before you launch your business so that your brand identity shines through.
Here are a few things you can do to get started with this
Pick a colour pallette - and we're vetoing black and white for you. If you want black and white, go ahead, but in order to create effective graphics, and have enough contrasting colours to build a website and highlight different areas of your business, you need more than two colours. In fact, you probably need black, white and at least two others! If your mind goes straight to lots of colours looking childish, whilst you want to maintain a sleek, modern, classy design, let us confirm that you can have several colours and still have that!
So now you believe us? Go head and check out this colour pallette generator and come back when you've let go of black and white! Once you've picked your colours, you need to use only these colours in any graphics, logos, packaging, marketing materials or anything else your customers see from your brand. If you want them to remember you when their friend is talking about needing your product, then you need them to recognise your brand.
Pick your fonts - another key aspect of ensuring that customers recognise your brand when they see your content. Our advice is to pick a maximum of three fonts that compliment each other, and to not use any other than those! Here are some examples of how fonts can reflect your brand's identity:
If you do those two things, and keep them consistent, you'll be well on your way to establishing a firm place in the memory of your potential clients!
Make Time To Plan
With all of the admin that comes with running a business, it can be hard to dedicate time to planning your content, but this is one of the most important aspects of running a business, allowing you to form relationships with your audience and have customers return to you again and again. In this day and age, each post you make will last on a viewers timeline for a few seconds max, so you have to make sure you're there frequently, and during times when they're most likely to be looking.
Research your target audience and when they are most likely to be online, and make sure you post at those times. We recommend posting at least once a day on each of your platforms.
Now, this can seem incredibly overwhelming at first, and you might not think you have enough to say to be able to post every day, but the key is to plan in advance. Personally, I like to schedule time on a Sunday to write any content for the coming week, create relevant graphics and edit photos so that they're ready to go, so that when it comes to publishing them throughout the week, the hard bit is already done for me.
To go one step further, we use Hootsuite to schedule upcoming content when we have too many projects on to trust that we will have time to keep up our posting schedule!
If you've got product launches coming up, or special announcements, schedule time well in advance to create content that generates excitement, and make sure you also set aside time to engage with followers who comment and share your content. After all, it's called social networking - make sure you're being social just as much as your audience are!
You need to tailor all of your content to be valuable to your audience, but how are you supposed to know what your audience deems valuable before you've launched and had time to create an audience?
Competitive analysis my inquisitive friend.
Chances are, there are other businesses that will have similar target demographics to yours. There may even be businesses doing exactly what you're doing in your area. Head to their social channels and look at the kind of content that does well on their channels, what their audience responds well to and how they interact with the business. Figure out which hashtags are popular amongst your niche, and follow them.
Importantly, the goal of competitive analysis is not to copy the every move of your competition - please, do not do this.
The goal here is to find out how you and your brand can create valuable content that your target audience will engage with. Figure out what it is they want to see, and use your knowledge and skills to provide that to them in your own way.
Build A Website
And finally, we land on what we think should be the most important thing on your pre-launch To Do List. We may be biased, having created many many professional websites for small business bosses, but we truly believe your website can be your biggest asset.
If you're selling a product, having a website allows you to process transactions with PayPal or other trusted banking platforms, which will add credibility to your business, and give customers peace of mind that they will be able to make purchases with you safely and securely.
In today's world, there is a general expectation for any reputable business to have an online presence, and your website will be a crucial place in which you can answer any What's, Why's and How's for your customers. It's a place where they can find you 24/7 and having a strong, easy to use website will lead them to believe that they can expect the same pleasant experiences from dealing directly with you.
We could go on all day about the benefits of having a website, but you can read more about that here and decide for yourself. But think about all of the businesses you yourself buy from and regularly return to. How many of those have a website vs how many of them do not?
We're so happy for you and your new business and we hope that some of these insights have helped you in some way. If you need more advice or guidance, or if you simply need someone to check you've done everything you can to hit the ground running, please do contact us!