Are you wondering about how to start a business? Good, you are in the right place. This blog post is going to be giving you some great hints and tips to get you started, especially with all the online stuff.
Starting a business from scratch can be a daunting task. You need to do so many different things and it’s difficult to know what to do first isn’t it? I mean, do you need a website or will your Facebook page do? How will you promote your business? How will you attract new leads and customers?
Stop worrying right now, because I’m going to walk you through exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it…
Okay so first things first. Website or Facebook page?
Absolutely without question you need a website. Your website is owned by you. You can run it how you want, have it look how you want, promote it how you want, and, most importantly, not have your reach restricted by anyone.
In the offline world you have two choices for business premises. You can rent them, or you can buy them. As with most things, there are pros and cons for each.
The same is also true about the online world except that owning your own premises is much, much cheaper.
Having a Facebook page is like having rented property. You have to follow Facebook’s rules about how your page must look, what it can contain, how you promote it etc.
The most worrying aspect is that if Facebook ends tomorrow (remember myspace) then you have no business. Your rented space would be gone and your business gone with it.
Having your own website means that you are in complete control of your business. You decide what it looks like, you decide what’s included in the pages, you decide who gets to see it and how you promote it.
I would strongly advise that you don’t have a completely free one but to invest a tiny amount to own your own domain name and have it hosted for you.
By tiny amount, I mean about £70 for TWO YEARS. Here’s why it’s worth paying that little bit for your website.
You need your blog or business website to reflect you and if you present the world with a free website then what does that say about you and your business. Believe me, it won’t help with engagement or sales.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that it will only let you do a limited amount of things before it tells you that you need to upgrade. To upgrade is going to end up costing you much more than £70 for 2 years, in fact it is usually around £7.99 a month.
If you are still sure that you want to go down the free route then by all means sign up with one of these well known providers.
They are all reputable companies and they all have excellent training videos on how to go about setting up your website with them. They also have great customer service teams who will help you with anything that you can’t figure out yourself.
But, if you would rather go down my suggested route then your website will look professional, will have all the flexibility you need and you can play around with it and add as much (or as little) to it as you want to.
The way I suggest that you do it is to purchase a domain name from the person who is going to host it for you – that way you get it for free.
Then choose the cheapest package for hosting as you can always upgrade if and when you need to at a later date.
Choose a WordPress site because they offer the most free themes and plugins to support their websites.
To get you started, I have created an Ultimate Starter Kit for Bloggers which takes you step by step through the process of choosing your hosting package, adding your domain name, creating your website and even publishing your first blog post.
It’s all here in this Ultimate Starter Kit for Bloggers and you can get your copy by clicking on the image below.
Although you have had to pay £70 for your hosting for 2 years, that is all you will have to fork out. Every other thing that I show you to do is absolutely free, including how and where to get legal images to use on your blog.
The starter kit also includes links to other blog posts that will help you to create blog posts for your website that can get you hundreds (or thousands) of readers.
So download it now and create your website today. You can have it all up and running in just a couple of hours.
The short answer is no. You actually don’t NEED a business plan, although it is a good idea to have one as it will act as a guide for you to follow as you go about building and growing your business and it will help to keep you on track.
If you are going to be asking a bank for money or applying for a grant it would be a good idea to have one as they need to know that you are serious about your business and that you have thought carefully about how you are going to make enough money to cover the repayments.
If you are opening a small online shop, or you are selling services online and therefore don’t have a lot of set up costs you won’t need to worry about going to great lengths to get a business plan sorted.
If you are someone who would feel better if you had one, or someone who would benefit from having a guide to work towards you can download some free templates here
I teach my clients a simple 7 step system that gets them doing all the right things at all the right times. I find that many people go off half cocked when starting a business and start promoting it before they have a way of responding to the leads they collect or the enquiries they generate.
Step 1: Get your branding sorted.
You will need your customers to be able to spot you instantly online. There are millions of websites online and yours is just one. People will only find you if you tell them you are there. Your branding is going to help with this and so should be the first thing you do.
Here is a collection of my social media profiles when I started out. It’s a bit of a mess as you can see. There are no constant colors, fonts, images or anything else. How would someone who read my article on Facebook know that it was my website – if they ever got that far?
Then I learned the importance of branding and how being able to be spotted online meant that people who wanted to find me, or my services, could now easily see me wherever they were online.
See the difference? Now everything looks the same and I am easy to spot.
Step 2:. Have a way to capture leads
As I’ve just explained, getting found online takes a lot of hard work. To be able to stand out and be noticed is what will make the difference between a successful business or a failed one.
But imagine this…
Someone spots you, they saw you on Facebook and now they’ve come across you on Instagram. They start to take notice and want to know a bit more about you.
They have a look at your profile and a quick read of what you say you do for a living – and then they leave because there is nothing to entice them to stay or to find out more about you.
How frustrating and annoying would that be. After all that effort to actually get someone interested in what you have to say and sell and then to lose them because they are distracted by the next notification flashing on their phone.
What you need to do is create a hook. Something that catches their attention. If you are a beautician it might be something like 5 secrets you didn’t know about skin care.
People find it really difficult to not click to find out what the secrets are. Most people want to be included in a secret don’t they?
Great, now you have them interested. but what good is that?
Step 3: Create a lead magnet
The hook is the first part of the lead capturing process. You have got their attention. They want to know more.
This is the time to ask them for their email address in exchange for those secrets. why?
Because you now know that they are interested in your products or services as a beautician. They have been seduced by your hook and they have taken the time to give their email address so that they can get access to those secrets.
They are a lead. A real lead. A warm lead.
They have told you that they are interested in what you do and sell. They have told you that they want to know more about the secrets of skin care.
You can now follow up with them and start building a relationship.
*Important: As from 25th May 2018 GDPR came into force in Europe which means you need to be aware of, and follow the guidelines and regulations governing give-aways, opt-ins and email marketing. For more information on this matter please see this website.
Step 4: Have a way of following up with your leads.
There is a saying in the online world, the fortune’s in the follow up. If you are not following up with your leads then you are leaving money on the table.
Knowing that someone is at least interested in what you have for sale should make it much easier to make a sale to them.
But not just yet…
You first need to build a relationship with them. You need to show them that you aren’t just some scammer whose after their money.
You need to show them that you are professional. That you offer a professional service and want to make sure that you serve your customers with integrity and put them first.
You can do this easily, and for free, by setting up an email responder such as Mailchimp or AWeber or Mailerlite – there are many to choose from but I would choose one that is well known and gives you a free account up to a certain amount of subscribers. MailChimp is who I know and trust and I recommend them to my clients too. you can sing up here for free Sign up with MailChimp
You can set up campaigns or email sequences that send out emails automatically once someone has requested your freebie and given their email address. You just need to create a series of emails that introduces you and your business to your leads, and that helps them solve a problem, alleviate a pain point or answer a question, just to show that you are genuine. This can be something really simple such as “A quick tip to treat dry skin” or “the 5 minute facial” might be things you could include in your email sequence.
Once you have built up a relationship and given them value through your tips, freebies or helpful hints then you can put an offer in front of them. You will not usually be able to make sales right out of the gate without first building that relationship. People are very wary when it comes to online sales companies.
Step 5: Start promoting your website properly
People will find you or look for you on Facebook to check you out. They will then, if more serious, click through to your website. Your website is your shop window. This is where you put your best merchandise on show for your visitors.
Your website should inform, educate and inspire your visitors. Make sure your pages have enough content on them to answer all the common questions that a visitor might ask.
Make sure that your products or services are labelled clearly and that prices are shown (where applicable). This way when you get an inquiry they are already qualified and ready to buy.
All your social media efforts should be driving traffic to your own website. Why?
Think of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest as rented real estate. You can only be on them as long as they let you stay. If you do something they don’t like they can suspend or close your account without notice.
Imagine waking up one day and your Facebook page was no longer there. This happens. I know people who it has happened to.
Your website, however, is owned. You own it. You say what goes on it, who gets to see it, how it looks and where you promote it. No one can take it away from you as long as you follow the general rules laid down by Google and other search engines about what is deemed illegal or offensive etc.
So if your social media account gets shut down, or the platform disappears, you still have a business. Please, if you only take away one thing from this post take this away GET YOUR OWN WEBSITE.
If you don’t know where to start or think it’s expensive then I’ve got you covered. You can access my FREE Ultimate Starter Kit here. It was written for bloggers but it’s the same for anyone who wants to start a WordPress website. You can do the whole thing for under $70 (or £70 UK) and it can be done in just a few hours.
It’s no good just getting your website though, you need to tell people that it’s there. You need to tell Google that it is live and get it verified so that it can send its bots to read your pages and posts so that it can rank your site and show it to interested people.
I have seen so many clients over the years who have wondered why they are not getting any business from their website, and when I ask what they are doing to promote it they just stare back blankly at me.
You also need to promote it through SEO (search engine optimisation) which means that you need to think about the key words that you want your site to be ranked for.
In our earlier example we used a beautician so obviously skin care, beautician, beauty products, facial etc would be keywords that would need to be attached to the site.
Unless you spend time promoting your site then no one will find it. You can, of course, pay for promotion, but I’m guessing you want to do it on the cheap at least for now.
I’ll let you into a secret that I found out recently. Pinterest is by far and away the best place to be if you want to drive traffic to your website. Yes honestly. I thought it was just for bored housewives too. But I was so wrong. It’s pretty much the only place now where you can promote your business for free.
If you want to know more about getting amazing results for your business by using Pinterest, then check out this quick and affordable course by a lady called Michelle Schroeder.
She earns over $50,000/month by utilizing the power of Pinterest (yes you did read that right) and she has taught me everything I now know about Pinterest and seriously, I have never looked back. She can teach you too. Find out more here.
Step 6: Create a sales funnel
If you want to make sales online then you are pretty much going to have to have a sales funnel.
It sounds fancy, but here’s what it actually is…
It’s a way of taking your customers through a buying process. A way of letting them get used to you with little or no risk to begin with and then offering them more and more expensive items until you reach your top ticket item.
I used to think this was trickery, but that was before I really understood how sales funnels work.
So that is pretty much what a sales funnel is. It’s called a funnel because lots of people will take you up on your freebie, but fewer and fewer people will go all the way through the funnel to buy the most expensive item.
See the illustration below for another example of how to use your funnel.
Step 7: Automate as many of the above steps as possible
You are going to have enough to do as it is, without having to keep one eye one your website in case someone tries to get in touch, or they want to get access to your freebie or other thing that you are promoting.
The more you can get your website to do for you the better. This is another great reason for having a website. You can get it to do so much more than just act as a shop window.
There are plugins and widgets that will help you to get it to do pretty much anything you want it to, it will just take time and practice.
If you would like to get all this set up and working for you in just ONE WEEK, join my Quick Start Programme.
I have helped hundreds of new businesses to get started over the last 5 years and recently I have been working with people just like you who wanted their new businesses to be up and running and found online from week one.
My programme will give you access to a full online course that will talk you through the 7 steps that we have covered in this post – and a whole lot more besides, including one to one coaching calls with me for when you need that extra support or bit of motivation.
You can find out more about the programme here. I really hope I get to work with you and help you get your business up and running in just one week!
So that’s pretty much how to start a business. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact, the easier you make it for everyone (yourself included) the more likely it is to be successful.
Whatever you do, make sure you stick to one strategy. Be aware that there are lots of shiny objects and things to divert your focus. If you don’t stay focussed and see one thing through at a time, you will find that nothing works for you. Strategies take time to work and anyone who tells you different is lying.
In summary then:
I hope you have found this post to be useful. If so I would love it if you could share it so that others can learn how to start a business too. I have included some popular social media icons so please just click away.
For more support and the chance to get involved in our business club, come and join our Facebook group Booming Businesses. Click here to join us.
Bye for now…