Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I link these companies because of their quality and not because of the commission. However, the decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
Your New Year’s resolution was to start a business in 2019 right? Yes, YOU. If you have already decided on what you will do or sell and now you’re stuck, here are a few tips:
1. Pick a Name
Just pick one. It should give people a hint as to what you do or sell, but don’t overthink.
2. File the trade name and DBA with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
You can do this in-person for $25. This is the process in Maryland. If you live elsewhere, Google is your friend.
3. Craft a logo
It can be as simple as the name of your business. You can do this for free on canva.com, or you can have this done for you for $5 on Fiverr. Again, don’t overthink.
4. Purchase your domain name
5. Secure your social media handle(s).
You can do this by playing around with your business and/or domain name in the event the exact name is already taken.
6. Make a list of what you will offer and how much it costs.
You will need to know this information before people start calling you. Also, make a list of FAQs. Once your customers know the cost, what else might they call to find out? Make it easy for them.
7. Create a website or at least a basic landing page.
Include: who you are, what you do, products/services & prices, FAQs, and how to book, buy or contact you. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Don’t overthink. (Did I already say that?)
8. Get a bank account.
Not a business account, but a bank account. It can be a separate account where you already bank. Or you can open a free account at Ally.com. This is to easily track your business expenses and revenue. Business bank accounts typically have monthly fees and come with services you may not need in the beginning.
9. Put together a simple service contract.
If you are providing a service, you will need to have some templates available. That way when a client calls and books a service, you’ll be able to follow up and start the service within 24 hours. You can do this easily with Dubsado or Acuity Scheduling. If you are selling a product, you will want to outline the return policy.
10. Set up a payment system and/or processor.
PayPal and Stripe are inexpensive. Zelle is free. CashApp is free. If you accept cash, collect payment upfront and provide a receipt.
11. Market your business.
One easy way to market your business and/or build an email list, is to blog about your business. Write about tips and tricks in your industry. Create a how-to guide (like this one). Be sure to hire an editor to ensure your articles clearly convey your ideas and are free of errors. ? You can then use social media to drive traffic to your website to read the post and find out more about your business.
Starting a business does not have to be expensive or time consuming. The most important thing is to start. These steps are exactly what I did to launch Matthews Media Management in addition to my other two businesses. Experience is the best teacher.
I have always been an advocate for starting small and reinvesting my revenue back into the business to scale up. Once you get started, you can always go back and hire a professional to help you re-design and maintain your website or grow your business. Personally, I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense to invest ALL your money on the front end before you secure any customers. You have the rest of your life to study and network to find out ways to improve upon your business. But don’t keep putting it off. As the saying goes, “The key to SUCCESS is to START before you’re ready.” – Marie Forleo. There are dozens of similar quotes out there. But the point is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start!
“The key to SUCCESS is to START before you’re ready.” – Marie Forelo
If you’re still stuck, here are a few business ideas that cost next to nothing to launch:
- Travel notary
- Start a tutoring service or Homework Lab at the library
- Read books to children remotely via live chat (my own business idea)
- Pet sitter or dog walker
- Freelance on Fiverr or Upwork
- Teach a class on a subject you’re an expert in. Alternatively, you can create and sell a book on the topic.
If you live in Maryland, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation offers a wealth of information (including the info below).