If the pandemic made you reevaluate your work life, you might be thinking about going pro with something you do well. Maybe you make amazing soup, or you’re a dog whisperer, or you have a passion for fitness. Here’s how to start a small business that lets you earn a living while enjoying significant autonomy.
Understand your vision
When you think about running your own business, what exactly are you imagining? Some people start their own businesses because they are inspired by a specific need that they see in their community. Others are attracted to the idea of focusing on a skill or hobby that they love. Still, others want the convenience of working from home and setting their own hours.
Understanding your personal vision helps you recognize why you’re interested in starting a business in the first place. Starting up and running a business is a huge undertaking. Is there a way to achieve your vision without starting an entirely new business? Maybe changing to a more interesting job, finding remote work, or becoming a freelancer could be a better fit for you.
Do this reflection even if you’re convinced that this is the right path for you. Your vision will guide your business and marketing plans later on.
Determine your main product or service
Your products and/or services are at the core of your business plan. The product or service that you choose to sell should be the right fit for you and your community. You probably already have a business idea. Here are some additional factors to consider:
- Existing competition
- Start-up costs
- Potential long-term growth
Spend some time researching each of these factors. You can learn a lot by conducting some basic market research. For example, if you’re thinking about becoming a personal chef, Google personal chefs near you and check out their offerings. Take things a step further by asking pointed questions in local Facebook groups, such as “Who would be interested in personal chef services?”
Check out websites that calculate start-up costs for different industries. Finally, spend some time considering how you would grow and maintain your business long-term.
Try out your idea on a smaller scale
Before you make a huge investment, see if you can test out your idea on a smaller scale. If you’re hoping to become a dog trainer, this might look like offering your services for free to a family member or friend. In this trial period, you can learn super valuable information. Maybe spending time training a dog makes you realize that you want to offer group classes instead of individual ones. Maybe you realize that there’s really more demand for dog walkers than for dog trainers.
If you want to structure your business around a product, make a “beta test” version. Again, try it out on people you know or sell it at a discounted rate. People who take part in the trial can be some of your first recommenders and reviewers.
Get the logistics in place
When you start a small business, you can’t forget about all the logistics. Different states have different business requirements. Find out whether your area requires a permit or business license.
Local zoning laws or other laws might be relevant to you. You should also check out your state and federal tax requirements.
Eventually, you will have to decide the legal structure of your new business. Most small businesses are run either under a sole proprietorship or a limited liability corporation. Learn about the difference between the two in order to decide which is best for you.
Next, it’ll be important to open a business bank account to keep your business and personal finances separate. You might also want to open a business credit card.
Finally, consider investing in small business insurance to reduce your personal risk.
Create your marketing plan
Your marketing plan describes how you hope to attract customers to your new small business. To gain new clients successfully, you have to understand your target market. The market research and trial period help with this. Find out:
- Who your ideal customers are
- Where they live
- How much they’re willing to pay for your service
- What media/social media channels they’re exposed to
Use this information to come up with a preliminary marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy will impact the actions you take next. Many people start out by creating their websites and social media pages. Building your online presence is a great way to get the word out to initial customers, but there are many different marketing ideas for you to explore.
Establish your first base of clients
Most people who start a small business find their first clients among their network. Let all your family and friends know about your exciting new venture. Kindly request that they recommend you if they hear of anyone needing your services.
The marketing tactics that you’re beginning to put in place will also start to generate leads. Be patient. But, be willing to adapt if you see that your current strategy is not working.
Get organized to keep your customers happy
Getting clients is only the first step. You have to wow them with your quality service to turn them into repeat customers. Use ServiceWorks to track your appointments, sales, route planning, and customer payments. It’s like a whole back-office staff in one software package, with super affordable pricing for microbusinesses like yours.
You’ll make a great impression on your customers and get your business started off on the right foot. Try ServiceWorks for free for 14 days, no credit card needed.