10 Simple Steps for Starting a Business Today
There's a saying that you have to "fake it till you make it," in life and in business. However, you also hear about wantrepreneurs. So what's the difference? The real difference to me is in the action.
If you want to get started, but you don't know how to begin from zero, here is a simple and effective approach. Follow these 10 step-by-step instructions to get started on your business today.
1. Write down your vision.
You can't get somewhere without knowing what the vision for your business and your life is. While the end result of your business will probably look a little different than your initial vision, you have to have the end result in mind to start. What do you want to do with your business? Try answering these three simple questions about your product or service and you'll have a business vision nailed:
- What is it?
- What do I get?
- How do I get it?
2. Research your market.
This is such a boring step. There's no way around it. It's unsexy and it's in depth. It's for those exact reasons many well-intentioned first-timers at entrepreneurship will want to skip over this part.
Sure, you asked your family and a few friends and they say your idea is great, so you've got a market, right? Wrong. You need to look back at the questions that help you with your vision and drill into them again.
What is it, and more important for your research, why would someone want it? What do I get from you that I can't get from someone else or something else? How am I getting it and how is that delivery method better, cheaper, faster or easier for me? These are all helpful questions to see where the market is for your business and what pain points you'll need to solve for your market with your offering.
3. Create something you can sell.
If you can't solve a problem for your market, you aren't going to make any sales large enough to sustain a business. It's that simple. Make sure whatever your business is offering, it solves a problem, because you can market and sell the solution to that problem for a viable business.
4. Get a website.
Now that you've figured out your market and product offering, you'll need a website. It doesn't matter if you're a retail or online business, both need a website no matter what.
You don't have to spend a fortune on a website to start. Purchase a domain from a site such as GoDaddy or Host Gator. If you're handy with WordPress, you can install a theme for free or a small fee and get started. If you aren't handy with WordPress, use a build-it yourself, idiot-proof site-building service such as Weebly.
5. Outline your automation.
These days, most businesses require some level of marketing and sales automation to really scale. You hear a lot about passive income, and getting your marketing and sales processes as automated as possible will help you maximize the opportunities for truly passive income. Even if you don't want a passive income business and are actively planning to market your business, you're still going to want things such as product registration, order tracking and purchases to have some level of automation. Examples include a thank you email, confirmation or upsell offer.
Think about the total user experience from visit to purchase on your site and outline what you think are good points for automated messaging or sales offers. Build it on paper ahead of time. Depending on the size of your budget and needs, look into the sales and marketing automation standard for small businesses, Infusionsoft.
6. Set up a sales funnel.
If you don't need the robust offering of a site such as Infusionsoft just yet for your business, look at sales funnel-specific software programs such as Lead Pages or Click Funnel. These plug and play into email service providers and payment processing vendors and can be a nice option for small businesses just starting out until they're ready to scale to bigger platforms.
7. Set up an email opt-in.
First, you'll need an email service, such as AWeber or MailChimp, or if you have Infusionsoft or another bigger service provider such as Marketo, email will be part of the platform already. Once you have your email service, you'll want to ensure there are plenty of places for people to opt-in to your email list on your website, on your landing pages from your sales funnel and anywhere else it's appropriate. The key to a great, scalable business is a healthy, robust email app.
8. Start a Facebook page.
Facebook is a great, free tool for spreading brand awareness and linking to your landing pages and website. If you create and curate really valuable content consistently, you'll build up a following that can help drive your business and your brand.
9. Create valuable, shareable content.
You can post your content on your website, syndicate it through services such as Rebel Mouse and post to your own Facebook page. However, if you want the word to really spread, make sure each piece you post is easily sharable so you can build organic traffic and word of mouth.
10. Refine, tweak and improve as you go.
You'll never be done, but follow the previous nine steps and you should be on your way to establishing your business and your plan of action. As you implement each step, remember that you'll need to continuously learn from each part of the process to tweak and improve as you go. The more you learn and make corrections, the better your business will be positioned for success in the long term.
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