You want to start your own business. Congrats, it’s a big step.
I remember when I first began researching about starting a business. Even more than a decade ago, there was a lot of information online about starting and running a business.
Looking back now, 95 percent of the content was total B.S. Fast forward to now and there’s even more. Point of the story, be careful where you get your information.
Now, let’s talk about starting a business. What are the 5 most important factors when starting a new business?
(1) You Need A Plan For Your Business
Rule number one, you need a business plan. Don’t shoot in the dark, don’t make guesses, be a straight shooter and follow your roadmap.
While this may only be a hobby for you or a test, you have to be serious about your business. A detailed business plan is important for a number of different reasons.
First, you need to take steps, getting task accomplished. Goal 1, Goal 2, Goal 3.
Key note, your business plan should be flexible if you need to pivot. New businesses pivot all the time, so don’t make a plan that limits you and your business.
(2) Building Your “A” Team
One of the most important steps a business can take is hiring the right people.
Look, you’re going to go through peaks and valleys (likely) trying to find a group of people that share your passion.
Your role as a leader is to ensure you put the right people in the right place and give them everything they need to excel. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, that’s a part of the process. Don’t get upset if you go through a few dozen applicants, it happens more than you think.
You’re only as good as the team you surround yourself with, that’s a fact. If I can give you one tip for hiring, choose creative, smarter people.
If you’re looking for strategic partners or investors, make sure they share your mission and goals.
Work with mentors to get the knowledge and experience you need. All of these relationships are priority.
(3) Never Stop Improving And Learning
I would of never been a successful business owner of multiple businesses if I didn’t adopt this philosophy when I first started my career.
I always had a passion for helping others, marketing, analytics, being an influencer.
For more than a decade, I’ve been learning something new that relates to my career every single day. Anything that can give me more knowledge in my field, more expertise, a competitive advantage over my competition, I do it. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I strive to be the best in the world and it takes that dedication to become successful.
Knowledge is powerful. The old saying is often true, “the more you learn, the more you earn.”
(4) Building Genuine Relationships
Another important step to starting a business is building genuine relationships. It doesn’t matter what people are to you, treat them with the respect they deserve. It could be your spouse, family, friends, strangers, customers, staff, you need to become a people’s person.
You can’t grow your business alone. You will eventually need help, we can only do so much. Always treat people like you want to be treated. Very important.
All of your relationships will play a role in your success or failure. Having relationships in place will likely bring more opportunities for you personally and professionally. You never know when a new friend can lead to your next business venture or a great opportunity to grow your business.
As for customers, you should focus on excelling in customer service. Happy customers come back, they stay longer and customer retention is a critical component of successful businesses.
Always take of your customers.
(5) Never Doubt What You Can Do
We all make mistakes when we start a business. If this is your first business, you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t let them drag you down, you have to stay motivated. Motivation plays a big role in growing your own business.
If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. This is your business, obviously you’ve come a long way if you’re in the position to start a business.
You have to be the leader, you have to be the role model in your business. Abide by your mission and values, lead by example. Eyes will always be on you, so be consistent but be fair.
I love storytelling in a business and the results show it works. However, I don’t want you to venture away from your unique story and what you offer. We all have a story, it’s your turn to tell yours. Don’t get caught up trying to be someone you’re not or trying to tell a great story about you, be honest where you came from and how you’re now at the point to be a business owner.
You can be great, we all have that ability. It’s up to you to take what you learned today and start applying it to your life.
Technology has opened up the doors of opportunity and I’m seeing more and more strategies to help local businesses.
If you own a local business or small business, pay close attention to this guide, I’m going to show you to increase traffic and leads to your business.
What business doesn’t need more customers, right? These are sure fire strategies I’ve seen in action, that I use for myself to bring in fresh leads and customers every month.
In my Marketing Your Local Business guide, you’ll learn;
- Why You Need Your Own Website
- Focusing On The Path Users Take On Your Website
- Where Is Your Target Audience
- Offline Marketing vs Online Marketing
- Google Analytic
- Everyone Is Using Social Media
- Building The Foundation Of Your Network
- Social Media Is A Huge Opportunity For Your Business
- Local Groups And Communities
- What Makes Your Business Different
- Video Marketing
- Test Your Marketing Strategies
Why You Need Your Own Website?
Your local business needs to look professional at all times and that starts with your own company domain. I’m not referring to a Wix website or a Blogger blog. These platforms can serve a purpose, but not for a professional website. You don’t want a sub-domain, you want your own company domain.
If I’m a customer and the only platform I can find for your business is a Blogger site, or any type of free blog platform, I’m going to question everything. Appearance matters and what customers see on your website matters. You can get a WordPress website, a domain and hosting for under $70 a year at GoDaddy.
I see a lot of local businesses and small businesses still without a website. One of the reasons they struggle is because they don’t have an unique domain. Get it fixed before you even attempt to start marketing.
Your website serves many purposes, but one such purpose is trust and professionalism. Your website is a trust factor, it allows you to look authentic.
Focusing On The Path Users Take On Your Website
I’ve evaluated thousands of businesses in my 11+ years and I’ve learned that many web designers don’t focus on the path users will take to buy products and services. Those that do understand the concept often complicate the process and this can kill your conversions.
Simple is often better, especially if your target audience is older. Your customers may not understand technology like you do. It happens a lot across many industries, a lot when the target customer age is 40 or older.
Your website copy and messaging often focuses more on branding than focusing on your customer. This is a mistake. Your primary products and services need to be clear.
Take the time to map out your content and the path you want customers to take. Are you making this clear to customers? Is there side distractions on your website that take your customer’s attention away from your end goals?
Where Is Your Target Audience?
Sure, your customers are local, we already know that much. Where do they spend their time online? Are they spending time on social media? Are they using Topix? If no one knows your local business exist, you can’t wait on customers to find you. Go out there and find them.
Depending on where you live and the type of business you own, there’s a wide variety of internet hot spots customers use on a daily basis or frequent basis. We need to figure out how we can tap into those platforms and drive traffic to your website.
When you’re marketing your small business, you need to be in front of potential customers and prospects. You need to be aware of the devices they use, where they live and all the different platforms they use. Fortunately for us, we have Google Analytic and it will be one of the top resources you have for your business.
Where can we find our local customers?
- Social Media
- Google Maps
- Google Search Engine
- Bing and Yahoo Search Engines
- Local Directory
- Local Forum
- Local Classifieds
- Local Magazine
- Local Newspaper
- Local Radio
- Local Media Outlet
Offline Marketing vs Online Marketing
There’s two ways you can be marketing your local business, either offline marketing or online marketing.
Offline, you do have several ways to promote your local business. Newspaper, radio, print advertising and classifieds are all options. Print marketing is a dying local marketing strategy. Although this is true, you can still benefit using it.
Most local businesses are turning to online marketing to reach new customers. Social media marketing is one of the top local marketing techniques being used. Search engine optimization, content marketing, email marketing and other local online marketing strategies are becoming more effective as the internet has become accessible.
I still know offline marketing can be valuable to your local business. Those strategies need to be implemented, tested, analyzed and optimized. For most of you, you’ll be able to find most of your customers through online marketing.
Google Analytic is a mandatory resource you need to understand your audience. It’s the top tool when it comes to tracking data and getting to know your customer’s behavior on your website.
Analytics is free to sign up for, it can be a little tricky to learn but the data points you get back is extremely important to your business. If you don’t track your marketing campaigns, how will you know if it worked well or not?
The data can be used to optimize your marketing to be more effective. If you have a ecommerce site, selling physical products, Google can track sales and conversions. You can set up goals to track progress. Sure, for many of you it will be a learning curve. However, it’s going to be vital to your success.
Now that you know we need a website, Google Analytic and we’re focusing on our target audience, we can start planning to focus on our marketing plan for your local business.
Social Media Is A Huge Opportunity For Your Business
Are your customers using social media? I’m going to say “yes.” Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow at massive paces. This equals more opportunities for you.
Every local business owner needs to invest a few hours a week for social media, especially Facebook.
Facebook is the world’s top social media platform and the most widely used, meaning a perfect opportunity for you to reach new customers.
Check out my Facebook Marketing Guide.
Facebook has over a billion active users. I know a lot of small businesses build Facebook pages and profiles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what you need to focus on is paid Facebook advertising. This way, you can target exactly who you want. If you’re not sure how to run Facebook ads, click on my guide above.
With Facebook ads, you should be able to afford $50 a week (hopefully). If you fear you can’t run ads, give us a call and we’ll set them up for you.
I’m a big fan of Instagram. If you have a younger audience, this is the perfect playground. See, Facebook owns Instagram and that’s why I know it will continue growing and only get better.
Instagram is not like Facebook in the sense that Instagram is a mobile platform, meaning we access it through Instagram applications. Instagram has a lot of advantages over Facebook, especially when it comes to easy engagement. With Instagram, you can create engagement quicker than Facebook. (results will vary)
This social giant is quickly growing and already has over 400 million users.
Learn more about using Instagram to grow your business with our Instagram marketing strategies.
Snapchat is another fast growing social platform with a lot of promise. At the moment, Snapchat has more active users than Instagram.
71% of Snapchat’s U.S. users fall into the 18 to 34 age range. If this is your target audience age group, it would make sense to utilize Snapchat to reach them.
Live social media marketing is the big advantage with Snapchat. You can host live events, live product launches or trade shows.
Social media giveaways are always popular and this is a great way to show your community you care.
Google My Business is one of the most important steps you’ll take to become a local business powerhouse in your city.
Organic traffic from Google, being found in Google Maps and Google Search is vital to the success of many businesses. The first step to letting Google know who you are is by signing up for Google My Business.
Here, you’ll be able to list your business. You need an accurate physical address. Google will send you a postcard that needs to be verified online in your account. Once that code is submitted, your business will be verified with Google and you’ll see an instant boost in your listings, results and SEO.
Google also has a social media community known as Google+. Google+ has thousands of online communities you can join or you can create your own. Engagement is a crucial factor for any business marketing online. Some communities are broad, but you can create your own. You can create local communities, this is a great strategy.
I hope you want to be an influencer in your niche, a leader that sparks creation. It doesn’t matter if you’re marketing local or you have an international enterprise, you need to engage customers.
Local Groups And Community
You want local customers talking about your business. Granted, hopefully in positive ways but building personal relationships with your customers are important. Forums, groups and communities can be powerful resources for a local business. The key is knowing how to use them.
With Facebook, you can create group pages, either open to the public or a private group. These are great for engaging customers, leads or followers. You can do the same on Google+ as I discussed earlier. As customers, we want to build relationships with brands, The engagement allows for great discussions, ideas and feedback.
There’s tens of thousands of forums online you can use to reach new customers. We want to add value to our communities. Most forums don’t allow you to advertise unless you pay and then some still don’t allow it. Join relative forums because this is where your customers will be.
What Makes Your Business Different?
It’s never too early to start thinking about how your business is different. What makes your local business unique? Different from your competitors?
One mistake is thinking it’s simple to market a business locally due to the competition level. While that can be true, it’s the wrong mindset of thinking. I want you to be mindful of your competition, you have to be. However, there must be something unique about your business that makes you one-of-a-kind. It can be a service or product, a guarantee, your customer service.
If you don’t know what this is, I encourage you to take some time to think about it.
Video has always been popular but with the addition of live video, the video marketing industry is exploding. Again, this is an opportunity for your business to create new marketing channels to bring in new local customers.
YouTube already has millions of users and a powerful platform any local business can penetrate. YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Periscope all have live video that you can use to grow your base.
Learning video editing is going to be important. However, it’s not mandatory to know. As long as you’re adding value to customers, simple videos can be powerful marketing.
Test Your Marketing Strategies
I’ve discussed a lot of different ways you can market your local business. Some of these may work great for your particular business, others may not. You won’t know until you test your marketing strategies. We won’t know until we test each strategy.
If you need someone to implement these strategies for you, be sure to contact us.
One of the most common questions I get from other entrepreneurs is “how do I start a business?”
If you’re like me, I was tired of working 9-5. I was tired of making everyone else money. Sound familiar?
Most importantly to me and likely you, I wanted to make more money so I can give my wife and children the lifestyle they deserved.
Family is important and I wanted more time to spend with my family.
When I started my business, I really didn’t have plans to start a business. I knew I wanted a better life and I was tired of my old job, but I didn’t know what to do about it at that time. I think this is a common step many of us take before we decide to start a business on our own.
Rather than starting a business, I chose to go to college to get my degree in Business Management. I wanted to bring this up because some of you may be considering going to school.
I went to school online. I thought my Business Degree would lead me to more money, but all it did was leave me in debt. I came across an article and someone was explaining how he grew a marketing business to earn 7 figures. I began to research it more and it motivated me.
You Can Learn Anything About Business “If You Want Too”
I started learning about online marketing, SEO, email marketing and all these other strategies companies use to grow business. I read articles, watched videos, took courses and I made a promise then and there to be the best at it. I wouldn’t stop learning, I’d read new content every day and I would make it work somehow.
In 2012, I launched Hale Associations and I’ve never looked back. Today, I have multiple “successful” online businesses.
If you want to learn how to start a business, this guide is for you. If you want to learn what it takes to have a successful business, this guide is for you. This is no get rich scheme, sorry. Although I grew marketing and SEO companies, I wrote this article for any niche, market or audience.
How To Start A Business
In this guide, I will discuss;
- Starting A New Business
- What Type Of Business Should I Have
- What Are The Strongest Markets
- Building Your Website And Online Platforms
- Building A Business Plan
- Choosing The Location Of Your Business
- Legal Requirements Of Your Business (Vary depending on the business)
- Thinking About Starting A Business
- Hiring A Business Coach Or Mentor
- Test Everything And Learn
- Tools I Use To Run My Businesses
Starting A New Business
Technology is amazing, right? Do you have any idea how long it would take to start a business 20-30 years ago? Do you know how much it would cost to build that business? The game has certainly changed thanks to the internet and now anyone can start a business for only a few hundred dollars.
What makes that possible is the internet. You literally have the world at your fingertips and the opportunities are limitless.
Now, I know all of you can’t afford to quit your day job. The good news, you can work on your business in your spare time. You need to replace all or most of your income if you want to quit work. You can build a successful business
In this walk-through, we want to start thinking about making an online business. If you have dreams of a brick and mortar store, storefront, that’s great. However, for the sake of this guide, I’m referring to online business.
Our plan is to make a virtual business that will be profitable for you.
What Type Of Business Should I Have
From the beginning, you’re faced with a question that will ultimately influence success. What type of business should I start?
I don’t want you to make a decision now, but you need to go somewhere and really think about this.
You likely don’t have market data and research. You may know a little about marketing and ecommerce, maybe not. So all of you are at different levels of the process. So I thought, how can I help you determine what business you need to start and speak to everyone reading at the same time?
In my guide 6 Ways To Invest In Yourself, I talk about your strongest strengths and skills. Everyone is good at something, I’m going back to that reference once again. If you can take your current skills and focus on improving them, you may be able to build a business behind those strengths of yours.
It’s important to quickly note, everyone’s skills can’t be used to build a business. I’m great at multiplying, but that would make for a good business, right?
Now, if I’m a great photographer, can I use that to build a business? Absolutely. If you’re a good at graphic design, can you build a business around that skill? Yes you can. And I hope you’re seeing the point I’m driving home here, many skills can be used to build a business.
What if I don’t have any skills that can be used to start a business?
If your skill set can’t be used to start your business, you must get the required skills you need so you can start a business. Humans are incredible, we can learn anything we want too. You have those resources available. You just need the knowledge.
That’s not the only option you have though, you also can create a new product. Granted, it will likely cost you more money then just a few hundred dollars, but that’s business. Some of you are creative thinkers and maybe that’s your strongest skill set.
If you already have a new product or an idea in the process, be sure you’re getting your patents. That’s priority, especially if you want to be in front of investors.
See, there’s opportunities everywhere. If you’re at the idea phases right now, make it happen. You can’t be scared of failure.
What Are The Strongest Markets Right Now
There’s several markets and industries you can attempt to build around. I’ll discuss my suggestions now.
Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) UAV
UAVs are a hot market right now and the industry is already worth over $3 billion dollars. From manufacturing drones to drone services, there’s a lot of money being made right now in this space.
VR technology has been gaining momentum for a few years now and 2016 has been a huge year. Expect more of the same in 2017 but much higher numbers.
Video is going to be big in 2017. Businesses are always looking for videos to be made, produced and edited. So there’s a lot of opportunity in this space. Look at how live video changed video marketing forever, it will be huge moving forward and a big opportunity for you to get involved.
The software industry is already massive, but consumers are always looking for the next big thing. Businesses too. One of the brightest industries for software is food. $5.74 billion was invested in 2015. The hotspot is food analytics. Software for fraud and biometrics is also high on the list.
Already a $36 billion dollar industry in the United States, the sustainable building materials sector manufactures renewable products for all types of buildings. We’ve already seen the huge growth in green technology, now we’re seeing it for sustainable building materials.
Building Your Website And Online Platforms
Every online business needs an online portal, stage or platform and most do this through their own website.
Gone are the days when you needed to know web programming as applications like WordPress have made building websites much easier.
Your website serves as a virtual storefront for your business, giving your audience content to engage with. You won’t hear much about this, but engagement is a big key to the success of your online business. You want users talking about your business, good vibes of course as damning engagement can doom your business.
There’s a lot of stages to building a website that converts. Here’s some important things you’ll need;
- Landing pages – A lot of software out there to help you easily build landing pages without knowing web programming
- Product pages – The format of these pages are important.
- Images – Need to be engaging, clean, clear and professional
- Physical address – You need one and keep it the same across all portals, good for SEO.
- Metadata – This is for SEO, products and services should have unique metadata to let search engines know what the page is about.
- List building – Email list are important, you want to allow customers and visitors the opportunity to connect via email.
- User friendly – Your site needs to be user friendly, engaging, everything should be simple too get to. Don’t overthink it.
- Test everything – Test different images, pages, formats, fonts, headlines to see what works best for your customers and readers.
- Google Analytic – It’s free and it allows you to see how users are migrating through your website. Also allows you to test and improve conversions.
- SEO – All pages, post, videos and products should be optimized with SEO.
There’s also several platforms you can use depending on what type of business you run.
- WordPress – One of the most popular applications used online; easy to use and learn.
- Shopify – Has become one of the most popular ecommerce platforms to sell products.
Social Media has billions of users that are always looking to buy.
- Facebook – Well over 1.4 billion users; the largest social media platform online.
- Instagram – Owned by Facebook; one of the fastest growing social networks. (younger crowd)
- Snapchat – Another quickly growing platform for mobile.
- Twitter – A popular social platform with over 300 million users.
- Google+ – Said to have over 1 billion users, it’s Google’s version of social media. (many communities)
- LinkedIn – The largest social media platform for business professionals.
- Reddit – Strong social platform of engaging readers.
Building A Business Plan
Ok, we’re beginning to move into the technical side of starting your business and now you need to build a business plan.
To build your business plan, you need to answer the following questions.
- What is the purpose of your business?
- Who is your target audience? Your target customer?
- How will you finance your business?
- What technology do you need for your business?
- What products or services will you be launching?
To learn how to write a complete business page, you can click here.
Choosing The Location Of Your Business
If you’re starting a brick and mortar business, location is going to matter. There’s things you need to consider, being on a populated street, easy parking and visibility for your storefront. If you’re starting an online business, the location is not as important. Most businesses start from your home, so most people use their physical address.
Getting verified with Google is important, what you want to do is list your business in Google My Business. In order to get your business verified, you need a physical address. Google will mail you a postcard once you’ve submitted your business information. This card usually arrives in a week as you only have 30 days to approve it.
You want to think hard about the address you use because using different addresses can hurt your SEO and organic
Make sure your address is located in the footer of your website on every page
Starting An Online Business
Some of the steps below are not mandatory for all online businesses. You should consider hiring an accountant to help guide you.
Some of you will be freelancing with your business and depending on how you choose to do taxes, you may or may not be required to follow the steps listed below.
Financing Your New Business
As I said earlier, a lot has changed and starting a new business is cheaper than ever before. Even so, depending on the business you’re starting, cost can vary differently.
It’s going to be tough to get investors without sales, so keep that in mind. Most of you will self-fund your startup, a lot of you can get started for near nothing.
Legal Structure Of Your Business
Eventually you’re going to need to become a legal business. This protects the assets you currently own just in case something happens.
Most online businesses choose to be LLCs and thies is often the best route to take at the moment.
Registering Your Business Name
Once you have your legal structure set, you’ll be able to choose the name of your business. You’ll do this with your state government.
You’ll learn what type of tax ID you need as it will be used when filing your taxes.
State And Local Taxes
You will need to register your business with your state government.
Here, you will get a tax identification number. workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.
Business License And Permits
Different businesses require different licenses and permits based on the business.
Ask for information regarding the federal, state and local levels.
Thinking About Starting A Business
For those of you that are considering starting a business, there’s a few tips I want to leave you with.
First, know the type of business you want. Sure, some people guess and get lucky. However, that’s a small percentage.
Working harder than everyone else doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. The key is working smarter, not harder.
Your business is only as good as the people you surround yourself with. That’s a true fact. You want the best team you can put together. The hiring process can be tough, you may not have the revenue or funds to hire at the moment. As a fresh startup, you need a competitive advantage or at least a foot in the door.
Hiring A Business Coach Or Mentor
When you’re over everything your business does, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is where a business coach and mentor can play a huge role in the early development of your business.
Coaches and mentors differ from one person to the next, so I’ll give you an example of what I do.
Most of the work I do is for established businesses that are struggling to make money, struggling to get users, downloads to an app or what ever it may be. For these companies, I focus on making them money first so they can afford my services, then we both win.
For startups. the scenario is much different. I could be focusing on sales funnels and processes, trying to determine the migration flow of customers. It could be launching a new product no one knows about or giving one-on-one training to the business owner.
A lot of us learn as we go and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, most startups only have a specific amount of funds made available and rely on building revenue to pay for such an expense.
What I do is accelerate their growth. By doing so, the business makes more money faster.
Test Everything And Learn
I will leave you with this as you begin starting your new business.
Fail but fail fast, learn from failure and test everything you can.
You will learn that the smallest details can make the biggest of differences in performance. Due to this, you need to test everything.
Utilize Google Analytics and Google Search Console to better understand your online business and customers.
Most new businesses will fail within the first few years, so you have to be willing to test, analyze and optimize.
Tools I Use To Run My Businesses
- TeamWork – A platform to help your team stay organized and focused.
- Quickbooks – Keeps track of your numbers.
- Google Analytic – Helps me know my customer, what they like, tracks conversions and a lot more
- Google Search Console – Deeper insights with a focus on SEO
- Moz – SEO software
- Ahrefs – SEO and Content Marketing software
- SEO Profiler – SEO software
- Buffer – Social Media automation
- Quuu – Social Media automation
- WordPress – Best CMS, easy to use, easy to learn, build a websites, web design
- OptinMonster – Used to generate leads with lead magnets and offers
- MailChimp – Used for email marketing
- SumoMe – Used for building email list and subscribers
- Fiverr – When time and funds are limited and something needed
- Godaddy – Hosting websites
- BlueHost – Hosting websites
- SimilarWeb – Competition analysis and market