If you're thinking this might be the time to start the business you've been dreaming of for a while now, you may be wondering where to start. Well, let's start at the beginning. Here's how to start a business from scratch in a step-by-step guide.
What are you good at? What do you love to do? What would light you up to work on every day? It doesn't have to be what you do for a living today. It could be something you do for a hobby. Do you decorate cakes and cupcakes that are drool-worthy? Are you the go-to organizer for your friend group? Do you meal plan and prep like no one else? You can build a business using most any skillset you have.
Brainstorm – create a list. There are no good ideas or bad ideas at this point. Don't judge yourself. Add everything you can think of to that list. What do you like to do for work and fun?
If you're going to build a business, then you want to make sure you create one that you LOVE. Why replicate challenges from your corporate career when you in your entrepreneurial journey? That's silly. The best way to ensure you don't create something you end up hating is by determining what you want to do before you get started.
Brainstorm – create a list of the things you never want to do again. If there's a part of your job that you HATE, write it down. If there's something, you do that applies to your hobby or idea that you don't want to do again, add it to the list. Jot down anything you do not want to have to do in your business.
Look at your lists of what you love and what you hate. Can you build a business focused on something you love while avoiding the things you hate? If you can't, you will need to look at your lists again and see if there are things you're missing that you might want to do or if there's something on the hate list that's more a dislike – not your thing, but you could deal with it if it meant more freedom.
Decide on your business and choose a few products or services to start. I recommend 3-5. Don't overwhelm yourself, but don't rely on only one type of income. If you're the amazing baker, maybe you choose to start with classes where you teach people how to decorate cupcakes and cookies or start a business where you make custom cupcakes and cookies. Perhaps you decide to offer both products for sale and training classes.
Snoop around, ask friends, ask others you know – who's doing something similar to what you're thinking about doing? What do they charge for their products or services? What do they offer that you're thinking about offering or is there something they offer that you haven't thought about yet. Don't be afraid of the competition. It's a good thing. Really. It means the market is viable. People are interested in what you want to offer.
You have several options for legal entities – sole proprietor (this is the easiest but leaves you exposed personally if someone were to sue you, so it's not the safest option), limited liability corporation (this is a very common set up for solopreneurs and small businesses, it offers more personal protection, and the business taxes pass through to personal taxes), partnership (two or more people in business together), corporation (has shareholders). You'll want to research the options and likely speak with an attorney to determine what's best for your particular situation. I can't advise on this since I'm not an attorney, but I can tell you that I opted for the LLC after consulting with an attorney and my CPA.
Choose a website builder such as Wordpress or Squarespace. Squarespace is the option most of my solopreneur students use, and they like it because it's user friendly and has a drag and drop interface. You can create a beautiful website without coding. Wordpress is a bit more robust and better for SEO, but it's harder to work with sometimes. I'd avoid any other website builders for a business. There are positives and negatives to any option, but in my experience, clients and students go with either Wordpress or Squarespace the majority of the time. Wordpress powers 35% of the internet. Squarespace is 1.4% of the internet. Wordpress is used by more, but it's also used by a lot of larger businesses with programmers on staff, keep that in mind. I've used Wordpress, and there were times that I had to get someone who knew how to code to come in and fix issues for me. I know a bit of code but not enough at times. This blog post will show you what to include on your first website if you're not sure what you need.
Think about the customer you're going to serve. Who are they? What age are they? What do they do for fun? Which social media channels are they using? Choose 2-3 channels at max and create business profiles. Don't use your personal profiles for business. Set up the business ones, in the business name and start posting regularly. Spend a bit of time learning about the channels and finding out what the best practices are for each one. If you're not sure where to start or which channel is right, check out this blog post on how to choose the right channel for your business.
You can choose whether you create a video program, podcast, or blog, but you need to create new content once a week and share it with your readers. A blog post is the best option for SEO, but choose the type of content you're most likely going to use long-term. If you hate writing, then don't choose a blog just because it's "best for SEO" select the one you're most likely to stick with because, in the end, that's the best option for you.
It's going to take time to build an audience and get to know them, and as you do, you may find that you want to change what you're offering, and that's normal. Your audience consists of your Ideal Customer, and as you get to know them better, you'll learn more about their needs and wants, and from there, you can create products and services that provide value to them. I teach my students and clients to spend a lot of time getting to know their Ideal Customer well and building their business on a strategic framework because it helps them ensure they're building the business they want to run, serving who they want to serve, and offering products and services that are valuable to their customers because without value people won't buy so you'll have readers, not customers.
It takes time to figure this all out, and it can feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning. I have a course that walks you through this entire process in a step-by-step manner. The Business Builder's Blueprint is the signature course that I developed to help you fast-track your move from a corporate employee to a business owner with the flexibility you need and the income you want. It's opening in September. I'd love to have you join me in class. Get started today with the Business Builder's Guide and you'll be the first to know when the Business Builder's Blueprint is open for enrollment.