When I got my business license many years ago, I wish my college would have made this a part of their curriculum, or someone would have mentored me or taught me this. Instead, like many entrepreneurs, I learned on the fly with lots of trial and error and it took “getting burned” a few times before I learned “the ropes” of being in business for myself.
I graduated from Western Washington University during a large recession. Many companies were not hiring and contract work was all that was available. I guess I was unknowingly smart and got a business license so I could begin writing off expenses and mileage. I worked many years designing for others but knew I had a deep desire to call my own shots someday. I learned all I could about all parts of the business at those companies and agencies. From business development to accounts payable and everything in between.
About 5 years ago, I thought I was in my “dream job”. After working there for a year and a half, the company re-organized and I was not apart of their future plans. It was at that moment, I was fed up with not being in control of my destiny and I decided to make a plan to be self-employed. It took two years to build up my own clientele while working a full-time day gig. Eventually, I was working so many hours I was finally able to go independent.
I now have a great grasp on best business practices, my sales funnel, contracts, proposals, design process, delivery, invoicing, accounts payable and taxes. I’ve made most of the errors below in the beginning and had to self-correct as I learned.
Here are some great foundational steps to take when thinking about building a business:
Phase one – Foundation
- Fill out a discovery questionnaire (I can send you mine) Define your mission statement, the problem you solve and target demographic etc.
- Research and discover a great name
- Think of a business name but make sure you find a simple and easy to remember “.com” domain name. GoDaddy is a great place to look up available urls. You might have to purchase a url from a broker.
- What kind of money are you willing to spend to secure the url .com you want? Is the name your’e thinking of trademarked or registered? Is this name in your industry? Do you want to compete with this? This is becoming more and more important!!
- Also, consider what social media usernames are available
- Write a business plan that includes job descriptions, paperwork, operations, marketing and sales process and procedures
- Get a business license through the Department of Revenue – consider Sole proprietor vs LLC vs S-corp and a trademark yourself through USPTO.
- Consider a PO box instead of using your home address unless you have a store-front or office
- Understand your tax requirements and expenses
- Set up business banking (Checking and Savings) for books.
- I was nimble at first using free apps. I later invested in QuickBooks to keep me organized to track expenses, invoices and milage.
- Register online with the IRS so you can easily pay estimated quarterly or annual taxes. Also get your EIN!
- Get your legal contracts and insurance policies in order. If you have a lot of company capital to loose in the off chance you’d get sued – you need insurance.
- If you purchase materials to create your goods to resell; get a free resellers permit so you don’t pay sales tax.
Bonus! Consider getting a women-owned business (OMWBE) certification, if applicable.
Now that the boring legal stuff is out of the way–on to the things that will put your business out into the wild and start attracting customers!
Phase two – Brand Identity
We work together on creating a logo, branding, packaging, website, social media and experience.
Phase three -Understanding your services/products and why your target demographic wants them.
We hone in on how to get more customers in the door through work on your sales funnel and applying it to your website, social media and email marketing.
Phase four – Marketing and Sales
Let me help you with your messaging framework and marketing strategy focused on selling to your target demographics.
Phase five – Closing, Working and Building
Let’s create marketing assets and a story that people care about. I will work with you to create all the deliverables necessary for your marketing engine.
Do you have anything else to add? Did you make any of the errors I made? Let me know how I can help guide you to have a prosperous business. I’d love to connect and create a lasting partnership with you.