WARNING long blog post ahead.
How have we been since we last spoke?
Are you a recent start up or thinking of creating your own empire? Well this is the blog post for you. I am going to talk about tips and tricks which I think all start ups should be thinking about. These may sounds like the most boring things ever, but are so important so that 1) you don’t get into any trouble and 2) so that you can be official from the get go without getting imposter syndrome - this is something I talk about in this blog post here.
Below are my top ten tips for starting up a business:
Number 1 - Niche
Make sure you have a niche, this doesn’t have to be an extreme one that only 1 person would ever be interested in, what I mean is, have something that makes you special, that no one else can offer. There is a chance your business idea has been done before unless you are some crazy inventor, then bravo. This isn’t a bad thing, not by any means, it means you can reference to these other business models to help create your special something.
For example, let’s say you wanted to set up a Gift business. Great, that’s a brilliant area to go into but you can’t just do every gift in the whole world. You need to narrow down what you want to do. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to this forever, but it will give you edge when starting out.
Think about what will make you stand out, why are customers going to buy from you and not someone else? This could be anything from the way you packaging your gifts, to the kind of gifts you do, how your gifts are made or you as a person. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the end product / service that is different, after all there is only so many ways you can design a notebook (for example) but it can be the experience, the design, the ethics behind the business that draws someone in.
What is is that will make you stand out from the rest?
Number 2 - Social Media
These days most people want to get to know the person behind the products. Everyone is looking for that personal shopping experience and if they know about you and your life then they can trust in your brand and your products. Don’t worry you don’t need to share every detail but some behind the scenes, maybe some of what you did on the weekend style posts are great.
If you think about social media as your way of promoting your business, then imagine yourself talking to someone in person, if you were constantly saying “hey look here is my product”, “oh look another one” they would soon get bored, even if they were your prime target audience. They want to know a little bit about you, then what you offer, then back to you, the history behind your business, your life story.
Think of social media as a way of pitching your business to a customer, not a business client, no one would stick around if you constantly showed off about your products. Imagine if someone did that to you?
I recommend planning social media, schedule in a couple of days (they don’t have to be consecutive) to plan ideas for social media on one and then taking the photographs and adding the captions on the other. Try and think ahead of big events that are coming up that your target audience would be interested in.
Number 3 - Register your Business
Now this may seem like a boring subject but it is a very important subject. Not only because it’s a legal requirement when you start selling to the general public, rather than just your mum, dad and best friend, you can find some information about when you need to register here.
But also because it will help you feel ‘legit’, like I mentioned earlier sometimes when you run a business you, yourself, can feel like you have imposter syndrome, like you shouldn’t be running a business. You may also find people will try and make you feel like you aren’t really doing anything, like you’re not ‘legit’ and it’s just a hobby, when it’s not. Having your business registered means you can tell everyone that actually you are legit and you are doing an amazing thing.
Number 4 - Trademark
This is something that may not be relevant for you as it isn’t for everyone. However, something you need to think about is whether any part of your business needs to be trademarked, incase people try and jump on your success. If you think your name / business product name / slogan on a product etc is unique, then it is definitely worth doing it.
It will cost money to trademark your idea but it will protect you from people who don’t quite understand that copying is okay, because sadly people will copy if they think it is a good idea.
You can find out more information about trademarking an idea here.
Number 5 - Investment
To get your dream up and running do you need to consider some investment? This could be a self investment, a family investment, investment from the government or your bank (more information here) or would it be beneficial for you to look at a crowd funding website such as Kickstarter; there are loads of people who find this the most successful route but it can be hard if it doesn’t get funded and you need to be able to put a lot of time and promotion into setting a Kickstarter up.
Number 6 - Photography
If you start your business with the money to invest in it, I would HIGHLY recommend getting your products professionally photographed (if you’re not good enough yourself - it isn’t always a natural talent for all). This will give you the opportunity to really boost your sales right from the beginning.
I used to be a product photographer, in fact I still do some now and again. I have had some customers say it has made their revenue, for that product, double if not triple, just by having better photography.
Of course, it may not be feasible to have some photography done for you from the word go, so I have created a blog post for a beginners guide to photography, here.
Number 7 - Target Audience
Right, you have your product, you have your niche, now you need to find your target audience and I don’t just mean age, gender and martial status. I mean a full blown ‘character’ you want to attract.
For my other business, The Back Up Shop, I have a whole folder full of things related to my target Audience, which has the basics of their age (roughly), gender, occupation and martial status. But I also have what their favourite food is, their favourite book, the magazines they read, the holidays they crave.
This is something that has taken months to put together and won’t be an easy thing to develop, and you can mould it over time. However, it will be so helpful to have a clear idea who exactly what kind of person you need to target - it will help with focusing your products on certain ideas, advertising and even the ‘national’ days you target at that your customer will most likely be into.
In the next few weeks I will do a detailed blog post about your Target Audience and what you can do to track him or her down.
Number 8 - Business Bank Account
Get yourself a business bank account! It will help with making you feel official and it makes sorting our your accounts so much easier! Even if you don’t have a proper business account to start off with, make sure your personal and business money are separate; otherwise things can get complicated when it comes to accounting.
Number 9 - Accounting
This is probably one of the single most important section to starting your dream business. It is also probably the most boring part of running a business (unless you are starting up an accounting firm, then this is probably something you don’t even need to worry about!).
Make sure you have a good structure for recording any income and out-goings whether that is in a spreadsheet or in an actual book. I can’t tell you how many times it took me to get used to this, I started off with good intentions but never worked accounting into my schedule so found I was always months behind and doing my accounting became even more of a drag.
Number 10 - Pinterest
And finally, Pinterest. I love Pinterest and have been using it for personal and professional reasons for a while now. When I first came across it I had no idea what it even was or how it was remotely useful, but when I got the hang of it, I found it one of the most powerful tools for my business.
Top tip: Make sure the boards you have ‘public’ are relevant to your business, you may also use it to find your dream house or wedding ideas but if that isn’t related to your business then have it as a secret board, by all means have an ‘Interior’ board but don’t make it to personal to your life.
I hope this helps with your dream business goals. I will be doing some more in-depth blog posts about this subjects in the coming weeks, so subscribe to our newsletter or join our facebook group (here) to make sure you get the updates about these!
Your cheerleader, Gemma
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