If you wish you could quit your 9-to-5 job, turn a side hustle into a full-time gig, or create a company that changes the world – this is a must-read for you. From brainstorming a business idea that solves a problem or fills a need in the marketplace to developing your brand and getting your business operation started, here are 3 tips for launching your own business.
1. Come up with a unique idea for a business
Whether you want to be a service provider (like a life coach or a consultant) or get into product distribution (as a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer), the first step to come up with a unique idea.
Have you ever heard the quote “necessity is the mother of all invention”? Well, it basically means – if you have a problem, you often need to be resourceful to find a solution. Ask yourself – what makes your idea new or different? How does it solve a problem or fill a need?
A great example is the invention of Spanx – the women’s shapewear brand that took the undergarment industry by storm. The idea was sparked when the founder (Sara Blakely) realized she couldn’t find the type of shapewear that she wanted (to get rid of pantylines under white pants). So, she did what any smart entrepreneur would do – she invented her own prototype. She cut-off a pair of pantyhose to make a body-shaping undergarment that could be worn under pants, skirts, and dresses. She then went on to find a manufacturer who would work with her to develop the real product. With just $5,000 of her personal savings, Sara launched Spanx at 27 years old, and within 15-years, she was recognized as the first self-made female billionaire in the USA.
Pretty impressive, considering she had no experience as an entrepreneur!
2. Determine what your brand is about
To get your company or product name out into the world, branding is one of the first strategies you should think about. In addition to promoting your product or service, you’re also sharing your company’s vision, mission, and culture with your target customers. In addition to creating a great logo that becomes easily identifiable, also think about the colors, tone, and imagery of your brand.
When we think of Michael Kors, we envision glamorous people jet-setting around the globe. When we hear the words, Kate Spade, we think of fun, colorful fashion that brings out our playful side. That’s what good branding does – it sums up the vibe of a company in the mind of the consumer.
Branding extends from your logo and website into your social media and marketing materials.
3. Set-up the basics of your operation
The reality of running a business is a day-to-day process. Each operation will differ, but there will always be some basic functions that are the same from one company to the next. These include:
- Branding & marketing (creating logos, brand photography, marketing strategies, etc.)
- Human resources (hiring and training employees, creating a corporate culture, etc.)
- Accounting (financial reports, cash flow statements, A/R and A/P, etc.)
- Legal (trademarks, patents, incorporation)
- Daily operations (what you do each day, how you do it, how you keep track of tasks, etc.)
Here are a few helpful tips to enable you to more easily set-up the basics of your operation.
To get started, incorporate your business (to protect your personal assets from any liabilities that may arise). You can hire a lawyer or use LegalZoom.com to get started. Whether you form a partnership, a C-Corporation or an LLC, determine which option is best for you. You might also consider filing for trademarks and patents, which can protect your intellectual property (such as brand names, logos, or product designs). Legal protection helps to discourage copycats and competitors from stealing your ideas, so it’s an important step in any business.
To keep track of finances (sales, receivables, payables, cash balances, etc), set-up your bookkeeping system and get a separate bank account and credit card (for business purposes only). Quickbooks (which is an accounting software program) is a great option, as they can grow with you as your business expands. To start with, they offer affordable online bookkeeping (that’s perfect for a small business). When your company grows, you can then upgrade to an Enterprise account, which lets you have multiple users and enables you to run all types of reports.
You’ll also need to get business cards, letterhead, and other marketing materials. A good place to start is Vistaprint.com. They provide easy-to-use templates, budget-friendly printing options, and helpful information.
No matter what stage of launching a company you’re at, the one thing to remember is – if you’re passionate about your idea and dream of being your own boss, then follow your heart and get going!