So you’re ready to dive headfirst into things and get started creating your own small business. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, and you really want to be your own boss; you’re convinced that you’ll be better off working on your own project than keeping your traditional office job for even one day longer, and you have a good sense of the kind of thing you want to do.
Great. Running a small business gives you a degree of control over your career destiny that relatively few people ever get to experience. As a small business entrepreneur, you set your own schedule (to a large degree), you decide which direction the company takes, and — if your business is being done remotely via the internet — you have the luxury of wearing whatever you want as “business formal”, whether that be a pair of pyjamas covered in pictures of cats, or a swimsuit.
But before you dive straight ahead and begin forging your destiny on this exciting new path, there are a few things you should really do first.
Here are some things you need to do before starting your small business.
Identify a good web hosting platform
In the digital age which we all now inhabit, a major part of the success of any small business is almost invariably going to be the quality and layout of your website.
If you don’t have a website up-and-running before starting your business, you’re doing yourself an immense disservice, and you really need to take a big breath, take a step back, and create that site before you get started.
And if you’re thinking about using a casually assembled site on a free-host-platform, with a phone selfie as your professional headshot, think again. This approach absolutely screams “unprofessional” and is going to hamper your professional progress in a big way.
Before starting your business in earnest, you need to find business hosting that is right for your needs. The web host you use must be professional and credible, must offer high-speed services, and have good customer support.
Your next step after that is to create a compelling website that looks as professional as possible. Accept that you may need to hire a professional website designer (and a professional photographer for that headshot) here.
Create a distinct workspace
If your small business is going to be run from home, and will feature little if any direct, face-to-face client interfacing on a daily basis, you technically have the freedom to work from your sofa, from your bed, or cross-legged on the floor.
But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In order to perform to a professional standard in business, one of the first steps is for you to view yourself as a professional. This is significantly harder to do if your workstation is your bed.
But that’s only part of the issue. It’s also the case that not having a dedicated workspace can easily contribute to a sense of chaos and may leave you feeling seriously overwhelmed, not to mention lacking in the essential personal-professional divide which all entrepreneurs struggle with, and likely struggling to keep things properly organised.
So, for your own good, set up a distinct and dedicated workplace, where you do nothing but work, and where you can store your work resources easily.
Get your brand objective and USPs worked out
You might well have a great general sense of what it is you want to do with your business, and which specific areas of your industry you want to focus on. But even that level of professional awareness isn’t going to be sufficient in order to get you off to a running start.
Ideally, before creating your business, you should have your brand objective and USPs worked out and formulated. Maybe you’ll even want to write them out on a piece of card to look at throughout the day. They’re that important.
Your brand objective is essentially your mission statement. What do you want to do for customers, and for yourself? “It is my goal to provide the best novelty pencils in the state, and have an annual income of…” is a decent basic template.
Your USPs, on the other hand, are those features unique to you and your business which will set you apart from the competition and compel the client to turn to you first. “USP” stands for Unique Selling Point. Think of what you bring to the table that others don’t, or at least, that most others don’t.
Your USPs should make up a big part of your brand messaging going forward.