The most exciting thing about business is that ANYONE can do it. Literally ANYONE. From trading basketball cards with your friends on the football field as a kid, to washing your neighbor's car; doing business is in our blood but many of us get caught up in the rat race, thinking it’s too hard or expensive to start a business so we settle with a relatively boring life.
The number-one reason that employed people don’t start a business is the perceived risk of leaving a regular salary.
The following information is designed to inspire budding entrepreneurs by breaking down the steps of starting a business. No matter what your starting capital, if you are passionate about doing it then it can be done. You don’t have to be rich but for every cent you save you better be willing to invest your time. The good news is; it will pay dividends.
Here are the steps to getting started in business:
STEP 1. BUSINESS STRUCTURE
By trading under your own name you avoid the costs associated with setting up a business or company. You can still have a nice www domain name but you’ll need to invoice under your personal name. To get started with this all you’ll need to do is register for an ABN. If you do want to register a business name to trade under then this is $34 a year or $80 for three years but check out http://asic.gov.au/for-business/payments-fees-and-invoices/payment-options/business-name-fees-and-payment-methods/ for more details. While this is a cheap way to do things, we recommend that most entrepreneurs set up their business under a company structure, which will give them better protection and remove some of the liability. A company can be setup for you for around $500 plus government fees. Contact me here if you want an introduction to the people that I use.
STEP 2. NAMING YOUR BUSINESS & TRADEMARKING
The next step is to choose a brand name for your business. You will need to check availability for your name on the IP Australia http://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/ website to ensure you are not infringing on someone else's name (Just because the BUSINESS NAME is available, it doesn’t mean you have the right to trade under this name). You will also need to check that the domain name (.com.au) is available for your name. If you plan on potentially going global then you need to consider registering international domain names like .com. You really want your exact brand name to be available as long domains and complicated domains can be very troublesome later.
If you are sticking to a budget of $1000 to get started then you probably can’t afford trademarking but if you can afford it then it is definitely recommended to give you the proper protection. Trademark Services go for around $500 plus government fees, contact me for an introduction to a great service provider in this regard.
STEP 3. REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN NAME
If you know the exact name you want to register then visit the guys over at www.godaddy.com and secure them. Godaddy is good because their domain name manager is really easy to use which means dealing with setup of emails and websites later is far easier than dealing with other domain companies. If you are having trouble finding a good name that is available then you’re best off speaking with a strategy firm that can help you come up with a better name; contact me for an intro to a strategy firm.
STEP 4. SETUP EMAIL & GOOGLE APPS
Something that most people skip, with great regret later, is setting up a proper email account for their business. Having YOUR NAME @ YOUR BUSINESS is what I believe is the absolute minimum you want to have to look professional these days. Once you have your domain name registered, go here and setup your domain name with google to get a personalised email account: http://goo.gl/9qNLcw
The great thing about Google Apps (the link above) is that it also has heaps of cool business tools such as calendars that sync across your entire team, online documents, spreadsheets and thousands of other add ons to help you improve your business.
STEP 5. BUILD A WEBSITE
If you are technologically astute then building your own website might be something that excites you. As long as you know how to communicate exactly what you do in a powerful way then you should be able to pull something together to give your business an online presence to get you started. Ultimately you want to have your website designed professionally as there are so many things you need to get right to be successful long-term however if you are on a shoestring then you can get something up and running quickly with an online web builder like www.squarespace.com
IMPORTANT: Your imagery must be beautiful and compelling, your design must match your brand styling and the words on your site must compel people to take immediate action; so if you can’t do all that then contact me and I'll introduce you to a professional company that will do an awesome job without breaking the bank.
STEP 6. WRITE YOUR BUSINESS IN WORDS
On of the things that most entrepreneurs forget to do is write down their business into words. By clearly defining what it is they do, business owners can more effectively communicate their vision to others and create both internal and external brand loyalty. There’s a cool little tool that helps people write better if you need help with drafting your words: http://grammerly.com/
If you are not the best at the written language or you simply don’t know how to identify your uniqueness then chances are you need help from a branding agency that has a talented creative writer on their team. Contact me if you need an intro to someone good.
STEP 7. BANK ACCOUNT SETUP
Set yourself up with a bank account. It can be handy later down the track if you set up an account for the different actions of your business i.e. Income, Expenses, GST, Income Tax. This can make life easier so that you can quickly process income transactions on a weekly basis to see who has paid and who hasn’t while your expenses account may only need to be reconciled in line with your tax obligations.
STEP 8. ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
100% hands down we recommend XERO www.xero.com for your accounting software. These guys know what they are doing when it comes to cloud based accounting. XERO gives you a full understanding of your business PLUS they have relationships with all of the online technologies you’ll eventually be using, which means they integrate well from a software perspective.
It is really important to watch your business like a hawk to begin with so learning and understanding the accounting software so that you use it weekly is recommended.
STEP 9. SOCIAL MEDIA SETUP
Go and see if your brand name is available in all of the social media site handles i.e. @yourname on Facebook. SIgn up for all of the main social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. The more of these sites that you can sign up for the better. Then link these accounts back to your website so that search engines can see that you are a real entity. These social backlinks give you credibility with search engines.
Make sure you setup the social pages with engaging graphics and profiles so that when people do land on your pages you get some traction.
STEP 10. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
Keeping active on social media is critical for most businesses so if you don’t have an hour a day to spend on your social media then find someone who you can afford to do it for you. Do your research or hire a professional though as people can see through shallow business posts that don’t offer any content to the reader. You need to offer people something that they get value out of. A builder might offer a book of FREE PLANS or a restaurant might just photograph new dishes as they are designed in the kitchen then invite people down for a taste.
In short, stay relevant. I have a great contact who has an offering where they charge you a basic monthly fee and take care of literally everything for you so you can focus on doing the business - shoot me an email here if you want an introduction.
STEP 11. BUSINESS CARDS
You are going to be telling people about your new business all the time, so get yourself some killer business cards to help you spread the word. You don’t need to write an essay about what you do on your cards either; keep it about the BRAND and communicate a feeling through the card then back it up with good old fashion CHAT.
There are plenty of places you can get really cheap business cards online but this is one place it makes sense to spend $200 and get some really good ones because they scream “POOR QUALITY” if you don’t. I do all of my stuff through a print broker who has all the major printers on their books and gets it cheaper cause they do such a massive quantity of printing every year. They have the highest quality cards but still at a really affordable price. 420gsm and matt celloglaze seems to be a really nice finish yet without breaking the bank email me if you want an introduction.
STEP 12. PHONE NUMBER
If you are on a budget then a mobile number might have to do however if you plan on building something substantial then you will want to start with a 1300 number as it gives you the appearance that you are bigger than you are while also providing you with the ability to direct calls straight to any answering point you wish without having any expensive phone hardware. You can setup 1300 numbers with Voice Menus too so that people are greeted with a professional recording and a series of PUSH 1, PUSH 2 options to lead people to the right place. Even if everyone goes to your mobile number, it provides you with the ability to answer your phone simply with your name as the client has already heard the professional welcome note. This makes running your business with your mobile much more possible especially if you are transitioning out of a full time job where you can’t answer the phone with your business name. Go see if your number is available here: https://www.thenumberingsystem.com.au
If you are ready to hook it up and start using the number then a business focused telecommunications company like these guys are the way to go.
STEP 13. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Next you need to setup your business on Google with your contact details, address, list of services and some photos if you have them. Go here https://www.google.com.au/business/get-started.html
STEP 14. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
If your business relies on people searching for your products or services on search engines then it is going to be very important that you get your website ranking top of Google. This can be a very expensive process to get right and many industries have aggressive competition in online. Here are a few points that will help you get ranking if you want to try to go it alone:
STEP 15. GOOGLE ANALYTICS & ADWORDS SETUP
Next you want to setup Google Analytics on your site so that you know how many people are visiting you and what pages they are visiting. Check out https://analytics.google.com to setup an account. Then once you are ready to start getting traffic you need to have a digital marketing company setup your adwords properly as getting it wrong can cost you a lot of money.
LMNT provides on-the-money resources to those people most passionate about success in every aspect of their life.