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