Are you thinking about starting a business? You're not alone. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, there are over 31.7 million small businesses in the United States.
But launching a successful business takes more than just having a great idea. It takes careful planning, preparation, and execution.
Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. I've put together a step-by-step guide to launching your business in 60 days or less. While the following steps are practical, they won't help unless you take action. The real understanding of how a business works comes from the act of building one.
So, don't overthink these steps and just take the most practical steps you can. Starting a business is a process of experimenting and doing the best you can.
You may not follow all these steps in the exact same order or with the same effect but that's how business-building goes. So, dive in!
1. Focus on a single product or service idea
The first step to launching your business is to focus on a single product or service idea. Trying to launch a business with multiple products or services is a recipe for disaster.
You're better off focusing on one thing and doing it well. You can always add more products and services later once you've established your business.
At first, look at what you're good at. What do you have experience in? Or what did you study or learn a great deal about?
These are all potential starting points for business ideas.
2. Validate your idea
Once you have an idea, it's time to validate it. This is a critical step that will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. There are many ways to validate your business idea but one of the simplest is to talk to people about it and see if they're interested.
If they are, ask them if they would be willing to pay for it. If they say yes, then you have a valid business idea. Another way is to run a survey or even to hire a market research company to help you learn if your idea is worth working on.
3. Define your target audience
You likely have a vague idea of who you target audience is but it's important to get specific.
Who are they? What do they do for a living? How old are they? Where do they live?
These are just some of the questions you should be able to answer about your target audience. The more specific you can be, the better.
This will help you create better marketing materials and know where to look for potential customers.
4. Set up your website
So far, we've covered ideation. Now it's time for a few practical steps: Generate a list of awesome business names (but don't get attached to any of them)
- Do research to see if your business name and domain name are available (a Google search will help)
- Buy your domain name if available
- Install a CMS like WordPress and create four basic pages: the home page, an about us page, a blog page, and a contact page
Don't try to create a perfect website at this stage. Focus on getting something basic up and running. You can always improve it later as you learn more about what works for your business.
5. Register your business
This step goes alongside with setting up your website.
You need to decide what legal structure you want your business to have. This will determine things like how much taxes you have to pay, what kind of paperwork you need to file, and so on.
The most common business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability corporations (LLCs), and corporations.
I recommend talking to a lawyer or an accountant to help you decide which one is best for your business. An accounting firm can make the process easy and fast with just a nominal fee.
6. Create social media profiles
Creating social media profiles for your business is a must in today's digital world. But don't feel like you need to be on every single platform.
Focus on the platforms where your target audience is most active. For example, if you're selling products or services to businesses, LinkedIn would be a better platform than Instagram. But if your products lend themselves to visual marketing, then Instagram could be a great platform for you.
The key is to focus on a few platforms and do them well rather than spreading yourself too thin.
7. Start marketing your business
Now that you have a basic website and social media profiles set up, it's time to start marketing your business. But where do you start?
The best place to begin is with evergreen content. It's the foundation of any good content marketing strategy. Evergreen content is the kind of content that's always relevant and doesn't go out of date.
Some examples of evergreen topics are:
- How to start a business
- How to improve your productivity
- How to save money
These are topics that will always be relevant to your audience, no matter what's happening in the world. Creating evergreen content will help you attract new visitors to your website and grow your audience over time.
To get started, I suggest creating a blog post or an ebook on one of these topics. Once you have some good content, promote it through your social media channels and email list (if you have one).
8. Serve your first client
Now it's time to get your first paying client. This can be a scary step, but it's an important one.
There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success:
Reach out to your network
One of the best ways to get your first client is through your personal network. Talk to friends, family, and acquaintances to see if they know anyone who might need your products or services.
If you don't have a large network, that's okay. You can also reach out to social media connections, business contacts, and even strangers.
The important thing is to put yourself out there and start making connections.
And don't worry if you're putting yourself out there but can't seem to get a single buyer. Sooner or later, your efforts will pay off and someone will invest in your business. If you don't get any results at all, then it means you need to tweak something. It could be your marketing, your product, or something else.
But it's inevitable that you'll get a client or customer at some point. Once you cross that first hurdle, build the momentum to keep learning and growing and there's no looking back.
Over to you
And that's it! You've now set up the foundation for your business. From here, you can continue marketing your business and growing it into something amazing.