Barry Edwards | EdwardsCom.net | OverFiftyStartingOver.com
A large part of my business is helping people launch, or re-launch, their business online. Whether you’re starting with just an idea, or you’re committed to an eminent launch, this 8 step guide will get you up and running as quickly as possible.
If you’re looking for professional assistance, contact me at EdwardsCom.net!
More people than ever before have ditched Corporate America to chase their dreams of being their own boss. The pandemic has taught us that working virtually is truly possible. And many of us found that working from a home office – sans commute and office politics – is a very desirable place to be.
Don’t waste time winging it. Most of my clients are companies that have DIY’d themselves into a corner, or taken a cheap route that cost them tons to recover from. Do your due diligence by implementing the steps below.
1. Get your business plan together… in 20 minutes
Most personal ventures never get off the ground because the daunting task of putting together your business plan is overwhelming. Unless you’re sure that you need to apply for funding, the Lean Business Model is all you’ll need. It’s designed with the Lean concept front and center – fast, concise and effective.
It focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages. It is an efficient means of clarifying the marketability of your new company. I have a video and blog post that describes what it is and how to use it. You can also download an interactive PDF to make it easier to fill out.
2. Choose your business name
Naming your business is way more important now than it was in the pre-internet days. No longer does starting your name with an “A” get you in front of the most eyes. There are things to consider such as, how descriptive do you want the name to be? Make sure it doesn’t trigger a Google penalty! Will you need a slogan? Is it available as an LLC in your state? Are the important social media handles available for it?
I have an article – and free tool – right here to help you with this and more.
3. Choose your business structure
The vast majority of entrepreneurs are actually sole-proprietors. The advantage is that you don’t have to file two separate tax returns. The downside is that it can leave your private property unprotected in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy.
The LLC (Limited Liability Company) business model is a close second as it’s the next easiest to set up and it also protects much of the owner’s property in the event of lawsuit or bankruptcy. If your state offers a single-member LLC (one owner), this may be the best option for solo business owners. The IRS treats SLLCs like a sole proprietorship, in the sense that the owner doesn’t have to file separate taxes.
You’d want to consider Nonprofit, S corp, Partnership and more. Here are the SBA’s details on each.
Registering your business: Most small business don’t need to worry about this, but check here at SBA.GOV to make sure you’re not missing out on some legal or tax benefits.
4. Get federal and state tax IDs
Your state tax ID and federal tax ID numbers — also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) — work like a personal social security number, but for your business. They allow your small business the honor of paying state and federal taxes.
It’s free to apply for an EIN. Here are links to apply:
5. Open your business checking account
Rather self-explanatory. You’ll need a Business Checking Account to link to your business structure.
6. Consider getting an accountant/set up your financials
If you’re even a little financially savvy, you may not need an accountant. Between QuickBooks and TurboTax, small business accounting has been simplified for the entrepreneur/small business.
Personally, I’m horrible about paperwork and taxes – it all makes me very anxious. Yet, even I had no problem setting up my own QuickBooks account and it makes doing my books super easy. I still use an accountant for my taxes though! I want a pro to sign off on my taxes. I don’t want audited. My ineptitude with numbers would show through immediately.
7. Funding your business
If you’ve completed the Lean Business Model then you already have a good idea of how much money you need to get your business off the ground. If you are Self-Funding (savings and credit cards), then you can move on to Step 8.
Your other two options are to acquire Investors or Loans. Both of which will require a complete Business Plan, rather than just the Lean Business Model.
Investors: Venture capital typically focuses high-growth companies and invests capital in return for equity, rather than debt (it’s not a loan). In Ohio, I’d suggest checking out JumpStart for venture capital and TeamNEO for funding and other resources. I also recommend searching for your local SBDC (Small Business Developing Center) that are located throughout the country.
Loans: To retain complete control of your business, but secure the funding to start, consider a small business loan. Again, you’ll need a full Business Plan with projections. Then compare local banks and credit unions for your best rate. SBA.GOV has a few other options depending on your industry.
8. Set up your website and social media channels
Building your website is building your brand today. Get this right, and the rest of your marketing efforts will be more efficient and profitable for many years to come.
Your website will consist of all of your most important marketing elements: Your logo, slogan, mission/vision statements, niche services, value propositions and calls to action. When all of this is the best that it can be, it can bring the perfect prospects to your door (email box or phone call) without spending a ton of money on Facebook or Google ads.
Some of this is design expertise, but most of your success (or not) relies on your content excellence. It is defining your products and/or services in such a way that attracts your best clients and makes search engines happy.
When your messaging and voice are sound, create your social media presence in that voice – consistent, confident and helpful. As you build content for your website, push it out in bits and pieces to your social media. These efforts will help build your audience find you on social media and search engine “billboards” – guiding your audience to your virtual office.
Contact me if you’d like assistance in developing a lead generating online presence. I have full service and DIY tutorials available.
Brand development: 6 Steps to Building Your Own Logo
How to automate your social media posts with Buffer
How do I find and hire someone to design my brand?
Online marketing essentials for the solo entrepreneur
The bottom line
Starting a new business can lead to a sense of overwhelm. Its important to take the appropriate steps in the right order, so you don’t waste precious time and effort. Follow the steps above – in order – and you will be well on your way to launching your business.
Setting up your website correctly is critical as it will send your social media and search engine information down the right path… or wrong path. Take great care with this aspect of your marketing efforts.
For more of this kind of content subscribe to EdwardsCom.net or see my podcast at Over Fifty Starting Over for a mixed bag.