Nothing excites me more than the idea of starting up and developing small businesses. I’m often asked for advice from other like-minded folks thinking about starting up their own “dream come true.” Being an entrepreneur at heart I enjoy sharing what I’ve found beneficial as I’ve walked through my own start-ups.
I’ve compiled a list of items I feel are crucial for getting any small business off the ground. If you are a person thinking about starting up a business this list should give you a lot to think about.
Tip # 1 - Branding
The purpose for branding is to make your business recognizable and to help get your name out there to your customers. When they see your logo they immediately think of your product and what the business stands for.
Creating a logo for your company is crucial. If you don’t have a lot of money at the beginning of your new venture then save money toward getting a professional to help you create your logo and come up with a branding theme that is easily recognizable. You will use this daily and possibly hourly on things like social media so it is very important.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your logo and branding your business.
- Your business name should be simple to say and hear. You don’t want to constantly have to be spelling out parts of your name over the phone.
- Check with websites like godaddy.com to be sure your name hasn’t been taken already.
- Clean lines.
- Font style.
- What is the mission statement of your company?
- Without copying a competitor’s logo, would your logo fit in with similar business’s if the logos were all hanging out on the same page?
- Generally speaking, it isn’t the best idea to use your own name in the logo because if you ever sell your business the name no longer fits for the new owners like it did for you.
Tip # 2 – Product Development
Once you’ve brainstormed an idea for a product to sell you have to develop your product. Here are a few things to think through as you go about preparing your product.
- Where are you going to get your product?
- Know your margins.
- Never copy another company, it is hard to copy someone else and those people who do are rarely successful.
- Start small, only do what you can afford without going into debt. Grow as you get revenue coming in. A lot of times when people borrow money to grow they grow too quickly and then they can’t keep up with the demand and the business becomes a burden and it is no longer fun.
- Think about your inventory. It might be better to offer fewer choices in the beginning.
Tip #3 – Resources
Make the most of the resources around you. A personal example, when we first started Farmhouse Frocks we went to thrift stores and purchased sheets and curtains to use for our frocks. Your resources will look totally different than mine all depending on what your product is and what needs you have with it.
- Do plenty of research.
- Buy wholesale when you can.
Tip #4 – Social Media
Once you have your brand and product developed it is time to start ramping up social media. You will use your logo and any branding ideas you’ve developed along the way in your social media. I suggest using your logo in your profile picture and leaving it as a consistent brand for your company.
Social media has been a key marketing tool for Farmhouse Frocks, roughly 75% of our sales come from social media. Early on I saw that social media could be an amazing vehicle for sales and I was right.
As a business owner you want to be careful about what goes on your social media and how little or how much is shared. Here are a few things to be mindful of.
- You are telling a story through social media. The story of you and your product. Don’t be afraid to share tidbits of you personally and of the story behind your company.
- The Instagram Stories and Facebook Live can always be utilized to help tell those stories.
- The images you use should be clean and clear. Check out your personal favorite social media sites and glean from how they take pictures. If there is a boat in a lake, do they close in on the boat, or do they get the whole lake with fifty other boats? What becomes the focal point of that image? Probably not the boat you are wanting them to notice. (Because maybe it has your logo on the side of it or something is unique that you want to share with your followers. Anything is possible, right?) I personally don't like watermarking my photos because people respond better to pictures without wording.
- Hiring an offsite company to take care of your social media isn’t always the best deal. They don’t know your product or have any idea what you are really doing on a daily basis.
- I like to be very intentional about what and when I post.
- If you have a business you should be posting a minimum of once a day, but I would suggest more if possible.
- Our company actually provides one on one social media classes and business coaching. If interested you can contact us at email@example.com.
Tip #5 - Customer service
Customer service is important and a lot can get missed with this one. Here are a few tips that have helped us with our customers.
- Have consistent policies in place. That goes a long way in settling disputes.
- Always be sweet and nice to the customers even if you don’t feel like it.
- We like to greet our customers within ten seconds of them entering our store.
- The customer should feel they are walking into an experience when they enter your business. In the beginning you might not have a lot of dollars to put toward the experience but as you grow and more revenue comes in you can add pieces to your displays that all help you tell your story and allow the customers to feel like they have been somewhere special.
A Few Final Thoughts
I hope this article will help you along your path to success. Here are a few final thoughts I have for that budding entrepreneur who is reading this at this moment.
- My job does not feel like a job. It’s fun! If you aren’t having fun you need to consider changing a few things.
- The product is important, but the tools that you use to run your business are almost more important.
- Setting Goals - Have short term and long term goals and a time frame to it and have an action behind it. People’s biggest mistake is not doing actions. People’s fear of failing holds them back.
- You have to try things multiple times in some cases until something works. Consistency and patience goes a long way when starting up a new business.
- Work more than you talk.
- Don’t think about what you are going to do, just do something.
- Dreams don’t work unless you do.
- Interview people for things like designing your website. They might sell themselves well to you and everything sounds good but check up on their past work to be sure they can accomplish for you what they say they can.
- Trust your instinct, oftentimes your gut is right.
- Never be desperate. From my experience desperation has never worked out.
- Have More Faith Than Fear.