Don’t skimp on this… REALLY dive in deep to learn about the business you’re looking into starting. That means interviewing people who have been there and done it, reading books to learn anything and everything you can about the industry you’re trying to enter, and making sure you craft a comprehensive business plan… it really is THAT important!
- Books to Read: Retail 101, How to Start a Home-Based Online Retail Business, Entre Leadership, and Lean In
- Subscribe to industry periodicals/sources/etc
- Join a small business discussion group // conference // webinar for entrepreneurs (tons of options via Facebook, Blogs, Internet)
- Be sure to file applicable business trademarks/copyrights, domain names, business licenses, EIN numbers, Tax IDs, etc (the not-so-glamorous, but totally necessary stuff)
If you think you can have a successful business without a Business Plan, you’re mistaken..I’ve been told over and over again that this is the make it or break it component of business. You need a solid plan that discusses investments // money, cost of operations (shipping, website hosting, supplies,etc), as well as your “why” for starting said business. You need a clear statement defining your messaging, vision + mission, talking points, etc.
In addition, you want to define your overarching goals (short and long-term), your hopes and aspirations for said business, an overall budget, timeline for launch, and be sure to paint a picture of what success looks like… This is different for everyone so define what YOU want to get out of owning your own business.
Check Out Your Competition. Let’s face it… there are most likely others out there doing something similar, so it’s smart to check them out. See what they’re doing right, look for places that you think you can offer something different to go the extra mile, etc. A big thing for me was wanting to stand out and not look like other retailers… you want people to remember you for “something” so be sure to put time into making your business unique. Think about the places you shop and or conduct business and make a list of things you like. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but please don’t copy… it’s so unoriginal and you wouldn’t want someone stealing all your ideas and using them as their own, right??
Invest in Your Brand Identity. You want a professional look for your brand since it’s the first thing people see…this is when you may not necessarily want to go with the least expensive option when it comes to branding, imagery, marketing, graphic design, website creation, business cards, etc. My best advice is to close your eyes and think about what your logo should look like, what colors speak to you, how you want people to view your business, etc. It’s not a one day exercise… we worked with our creative team for more than 4 months on the ins and outs of the Sugar Bit logo, website, collateral, tagline, background, etc. Start a document with the specifics you want to include (or things you don’t particularly like) and be sure to visit other resources for help… Pinterest helped SO much when I went to look at layouts, colorways, font options, logo design, etc. Remember, cohesiveness is SO important here!! Another way to gather invaluable opinions and advice is to seek input from your peers, family, and friends… send out a survey, ask for constructive criticism, and don’t be afraid to solicit help!
The Power of Social Media.
Find a Work-Life Balance.
Honestly, this is the hard part for me… I struggle with this one and I’m not hesitant to admit it. Sometimes I find myself working way too many hours, like after the girls go down at night and that’s when I should be spending time unwinding, reading, and hanging with my hubby on the couch. The hard part of owning your own business is that you can forget a normal 8-5 workday, but you can set boundaries in place for making the most out of your schedule. The flexibility is great, but I’m a one man shop, so if I’m not doing it, it doesn’t get done… I need to learn how to “turn it off” at night, on the weekends, etc.
Hoping this post helps some of you out there… at the end of the day, pray about it, make a list of pros and cons, and do what YOU feel in your heart to be right. Being a business owner is so much harder than my former life in the corporate world, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Any other questions you have? Leave comments below and I will be happy to answer them!