If you’re thinking about starting your own business, that’s great news, and it’s the first step on an exciting journey to financial independence. But, it takes work and an unwavering commitment to your customers. You have to be okay with making mistakes and, more importantly, learn along the way. To get you started, we’ve put together a few quick tips on things you should know. While the following paragraphs won’t guarantee that you will succeed, they will help you avoid bumps along the road to success.
Picking a business structure
If you’re a service-based freelancer, you can probably get by working under your own name and using your Social Security number at tax time. Most small businesses, and particularly those that do not have employees, choose sole proprietorship. However, if you sell goods or leave your home to provide services, it’s a good idea to structure your business as an official entity.
Packing and shipping
While many services can be delivered online, physical goods cannot. If you’re just getting started, you may find that a dropshipping business model is a good option, and particularly if you plan to sell trendy or seasonal products, like drones, wedding supplies, swimwear, or hoodies. You won’t have to hold any inventory or have expensive overhead, and you don’t pay for a product until your customers pay you. Otherwise, you’ll need a large home or off-site office with plenty of room to create, store, pack, and ship.
Collecting payments is necessary for all businesses. But how you do that can make or break the customer experience. If your business is split between home and a physical location, such as a small storefront or community events, you’ll do your customers – and yourself – a favor by finding a reliable point-of-sale system. Square is a popular POS system that you’ve probably seen a dozen times before. It allows you to accept credit cards both in person and online. You’ll also have the ability to create sales and labor reports, and manage and track applicable inventory.
In the world of online marketing, they say content is king. While that may be true, it is your visual marketing material that initially captures potential customers’ attention. Plan to spend some money in the beginning working with a graphic designer that can make your company stand out.
When interviewing graphic designers, you want to zero in on a candidate that fully grasps the importance of communicating through a visual medium. They should feel comfortable working in all formats, whether it’s print or web design, and be prepared to provide impressive visuals for whatever marketing materials you need. This hire should also have strong web and mobile design (e.g. logos, layouts, images, banners, and color schemes) as well as UI/UX design skills. If you opt for a contractor, note that most charge anywhere from $35 an hour to $100 per hour. Do your research, and make sure to read reviews from prior clients. Ask about their experience, and make sure they give you a detailed completion timeline. Take a look at Medium’s list of before and after images of redesigned logos to get a better idea of what a good designer can do for you.
When you are just getting started, you have to rely strictly on marketing strategy to bring in customers. However, never lose sight of the fact that your current customers will become your future references. Give each client, no matter how big or small, a gold star experience, and you can count on them to let others know you’re their go-to guy or gal. And as difficult as it is, never overpromise and underdeliver. The few minutes of optimism when you guarantee work in an unrealistic timeline will never make up for the lost customers that you’ll rack up after a few missed deadlines.
Starting a business isn’t always easy, but it does not have to be a negative experience. You will almost certainly experience setbacks, but the above advice can help you avoid many common new entrepreneur mistakes and keep you on track for success.
About Patty DeDominic
After decades of building her own multimillion-dollar enterprise, Patty became an angel investor and business consultant. Today she is a no nonsense, fun loving Business Coach for high achieving teams. Two of Patty’s business clients in the past few years achieved unicorn status ($1B), many are on the Inc 500 fastest growing companies list and boast over 38% annual growth rates.
Patty founded and built PDQCareers & CT Engineering, the 600 employee Recruiting/Engineering Outsource Contracting firm doing business across the USA and in 3 countries (Japan, the Philippines and Jamaica). She successfully founded, then acquired companies and after placing over 250,000 people she sold in 2006. That business and former clients are now part of America’s largest specialty staffing supplier, Employbridge.
Some of her chairmanships include: The LA Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Foundation for SCORE.org where she helped start the private million-dollar fundraising projects.
Patty also worked closely with Dr Jane Goodall, as board member and chair of governance to scale the Institute and expanded to over 60 countries with Roots & Shoots, a network of kids making a difference for their communities, the environment and animals. She loves her animals including chickens and donkeys and today she gets to live in the “country” on Wings Ranch in Santa Barbara county.
Patty DeDominic is a business coach to businesses exceeding $10 million in annual sales. Named CEO of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal, she also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from two United States Presidents and built, grew, then sold a 600-employee firm that is now part of a billion-dollar staffing leader.
dedominic.com/strategy or text me at 805 453 7490 to see if we can help you find more than a few hundred thousand hidden in your business. We did with 4 new clients this quarter. My goal is to help clients net one million more before year end!