LaShina Mack, CEO of Premier Marketing Experts & Founder of Resume Renewed
You’ve decided. You want to start your business and can’t wait to get it going but now you are wondering what to do now. Where do you begin? How do you get started? Here are 7 things you may want to consider when starting a business.
Concept. What is your business going to be about? Is it a product, a service? Will it be just you? Is there anything out there like it? Once you have your idea, that is only the very beginning. Make sure you are clear on what you want to offer and are ready for the next step. Ask yourself if you are starting this business because it’s something you are passionate about or because you see everyone else doing it and it seems to be working for them. Gauge your intent. Make sure it is pure or else you will fail before you even begin. Do it because YOU want to, not because the masses are doing it. Not everything works for everybody.
Time. Make sure that you are aware that starting a business whether part-time or full-time will require an investment of time. How much will depend on the type of business you want to start. Are you launching a product? Will you be a freelancer offering services? Are you going to rent out space for a physical location? Will you be shipping out your own inventory? Whatever path you decide you want to take, make sure that you are prepared to possibly invest a significant amount of time into your business. Sometimes you will get back what you put in and sometimes you won’t. Doesn’t seem fair does it? It’s all part of the growth process and you have to decide how badly you truly want it.
Market Research. Do some research about your industry FIRST. Research competitors and see what they are doing. Look at the ones who are doing well and the ones who are not doing so well. You can pick up some great ideas along the way and also identify what you might want to avoid. Not doing proper market research is a huge mistake that new entrepreneurs or business owners often make. Don’t let that be you. Do students just show up for tests leaning on their own knowledge base? No, they study and you need to do the same thing.
Know Your Demographic. This is a big one. You need to identify who your ideal customer is. Who are they? What do they look like? How old are they? Where are they located? How much do they make? Seems invasive, doesn't it? Well, regardless of that, it’s not that hard to find out this information. A great way to find out who your audience is, is to do online surveys. You can use social media to conduct those whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or one of the other major platforms. Another way is to utilize Google Ad Words. It will show you demographic information based on keyword searches. You can utilize the Keyword Planner for free and it will give you demographic information about the people who are searching certain words or phrases. They do mention PPC (pay per click) which can be lucrative if you know what you are doing but don’t worry about that in the beginning. Save your money. Yes, you received that gold nugget for free.
The other resource you can use is one that I already mentioned which is Facebook. You can use their Audience Insights. It gives you analytics information about who is liking and commenting on your Facebook business page, their location, their buying behaviors and more. Yes, it goes pretty deep. You can also use your market research info that was mentioned prior as there is usually demographic information available. There are many other ways to get the information you need about your audience but you get the picture.
Money, Money, Money, Money. . . MONEY! It often does not have to be a lot, depending on what you are getting started. Many businesses are started with very little money while others require quite a bit of capital, especially when you are talking about a physical location. Just go in with the knowledge that you will certainly have to spend at least some money, and not just one time. As a business owner, you have to be aware of the difference between an investment and an expense. A light bill is an expense. You pay it each month so that you can continue to operate. Marketing for your company is an investment. It pays for itself over and over again every time you use it to draw in more customers and to build credibility for your company. Too many times, business owners go through leaps and bounds to cut down on investments. Please, if you do anything at all, find ways to trim your expenses, FIRST. I am guilty of this one more times that I care to admit.
Get Registered. Protect your company name. Get registered with your state. You can register as an LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, Non-Profit, Partnership or Sole Proprietorship. There are other categories believe it or not but we won’t open up that can of worms today. Let’s keep it simple. As a Florida resident, a great resource you can utilize is Sunbiz.org. They have great information on starting a new business, how to register, name searches and more. Now, if you are not a Florida resident, another resource is SCORE. They are a non-profit that will truly provide great assistance in helping you start your business. They have webinars, online courses, mentorship programs, an online library full of information and so much more. Most of it is FREE.
Now, if there is a chance you don’t want to go through the headache of registering your own business, there is a company that I used that I highly recommend. I used them to register one of my companies because I simply did not have the time to do it myself at that point. They did a great job and it was red carpet all the way. The company is called CorpNet. Click here to access their site and check out their offerings. You can do a search by state. Yes, I will get a referral fee if you decide to do business with them. It’s only fair. Lol. Transparency is an endearing trait. :-) Anyway, it’s up to you whether you do it yourself or not. No pressure. Just know that you are very capable and the process is not difficult but if you are super busy like me, it’s a great option.
Marketing. Don’t think because you have a cute website that the flood gates will open and people will be tripping over themselves to get what you have. While the site might be cute and maybe you are too, no one cares because they have no clue you exist. You have to market. Do you need a $10,000 billboard? In this age, not likely because there are just way too many ways for you to market your business without spending a dime. Prime example . . . SOCIAL MEDIA! Learn it, use it, love it. You can eventually spend money on ads via social media but don’t even bother if you can’t post on the regular. If you haven’t posted on your social media since May, then you need to get to work. Baby steps! You need to put your business out there or no one will see that pretty website you spent so much time or money on.
These are just a few things of many that will at least help you to get started. Is this all? No. But there will be more tips on the way. Stay tuned! In the meantime, Welcome to the Wide World of Business Ownership! Good luck!
1. Lucrative Partnerships.
Partner with local HOAs (Homeowners Associations).
Do you need to know how to find or reach HOAs? Click here. You can register on the HOA site for free and search their directory. Contact information such as the phone numbers are not listed but finding it is as simple as a Google search. Depending on what type of property it is, the name of the property manager might be listed or name of the property company. In some instances, they list the names of all of the HOA board members. You should ask to speak to the property manager as they are likely not going to list the contact info for the members. Introduce yourself, tell them what you do and ask to attend their quarterly meetings as a guest speaker to educate homeowners on lawn care, landscaping, and other outdoor maintenance tips. They may already have a vendor in place that they use exclusively. If they do, move on to the next one. Try to focus on properties that are either brand new or look like they need a little work.
2. Join Local Leads Groups.
Some leads groups are completely free or are as little as $5 per meeting, while others can cost as much as $500 annually. Regardless of what path you choose, it is an excellent way to network with other small business owners. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing technique. If you have a limited budget, just start with the free ones or connect with someone who is already part of a leads group and attend as a guest.
3. Find a Strategic Power Partner.
Find a small business, contractor, or independent agent that has consistent access to the customer base you want. Make sure it is a like-for-like relationship. You have access to customers they want, and they have access to customers you want. It's a one-on-one referral exchange. Ideal power partners for landscaping companies are locksmiths, contractors, painters, roofers, carpet cleaners, security system sales reps, pest control- anyone with regular access to homeowners and businesses.
4. Create a mobile optimized website.
Believe it or not, Google has reported that most of their searches are done from smartphones and other mobile devices. So if your website is not mobile responsive, that is a problem. You are seriously missing the boat. If you want to know if your website meets the specifications, click here. Enough said.
5. Go door -to-door in new communities.
Yes, this is old school but it works. If you see new communities being built in your area, ask the builders what the anticipated completion date will be for that community. Check the local paper or online for announcements. You want these neighborhood newbies before your competition gets to them. You can even jump ahead by contacting the property company to find out if they have a landscaping vendor already. The earlier, the better.
6. Utilize your existing customer base for referrals.
This might seem like an obvious solution but it would surprise you how many people don't tap into their existing customer base. They already know you, they already like you, and they would likely buy from you again or refer you. It's easy math. Feel free to offer incentives, if you desire. For example, offer $20 off their next service for 3 referrals or more. Offer whatever you want. Whatever makes sense. Never ask just for one referral, ask for multiple. If you ask for one, they will give you one. If you ask for 10, you might get 7. See how this works?
You don't have to use all of these tips, but admit it, they are gold aren't they? Good luck on your endeavor to generate more business. If none of these methods are a fit for your particular type of business, don't fret. There is a particular company that has red hot leads available just for you.
Every business from local to international can benefit from SEO. From bike shops to conveyors to plumbers, all businesses can undeniably attain business growth from Search Engine Optimization. There is a wide array of businesses that lack a profound understanding of the importance of SEO. For this reason, they do not appreciate that SEO has the power to positively influence the developmental growth of their local enterprise. However, it is vital to understand that SEO plays a major role in the creation of online growth for all local businesses.
Not only is SEO valuable, but it is also a critical marketing apparatus for compelling brand consciousness. Embracing SEO can mean enhancing search engine page rankings. It goes further to amplify the abundance of traffic to a page. Leaving a mark in the local community is one valuable way of gaining customers, growing revenue, and creating a brand name. SEO marketing allows you to take the right approach of targeting your community.
If you feel the internet is too large to keep an eye on your local consumers, think again. Customers are becoming more dependent on the internet for information. This means that Google alongside other search engines have replaced the local business directory for small businesses. In the recent times, search engines have advanced local algorithms where consumers look for local stores, restaurants and so forth. Adding directories, maps and other helpful information about your business makes SEO rate you highly. Each minute you delay making use of SEO marketing, gives your competitors more time to make use of it.
Today, having a website is not enough. Your website must contain relevant content and be well structured for search engines to rate you positively. Note that search engines are adapting to the fact that users are regularly demanding high-quality local results. Part of local marketing is the capacity to be listed in Google under the city you want your consumers to discover you in. With critical information such as your business name, number, and address matching on all internet online listings are important SEO basics. These things will not take care of themselves. This is an active effort businesses need to take.
Do you realize that online reviews can make a company shine or tear a company apart? Yes, they have that much power. Very often, consumers rely on online reviews prior to using a company’s products or services. Positive reviews can send signals to Google indicating that your business is worthy of being listed in their searches. The more positive reviews you receive, the better your company’s SEO footprint looks.
There are many ways to utilize SEO for your business regardless of how large or small it may be. With the right approach and a good support team, your business can be an SEO champion. Considering how competition increases every single day, it’s nice to have an advantage.
You have made it and the time has finally arrived for you to market your business. Well, it is certainly an amazing feat with all of the work you have already put in, but now it is time for everyone else to find out about your business as a brand and why it is so great. Where do you begin? Will it be expensive? How long will this take? Is it right for my business? All of these are great questions that you should be asking yourself and PME is ready to answer.
First, where do you begin?
Well, you have to know where you are in order to know where you are going. Once you know your current position, you can establish a baseline and set the proper goals for your future. When are you set to open for business? Do you have a retail business, a service driven business or a web business? Have you hired anyone to do your marketing for you or will you be doing all of the marketing yourself? Do you have a logo yet? How about a tag line or mantra? Answer these questions for yourself so that you know where to begin. This will determine what steps you need to take in order to start creating your marketing plan.
Become familiar with knowing what these numbers are. What is each customer monetarily worth to you? What are your current overhead costs? Do you plan on doing any hiring within the next six months to a year? If so, how many employees? What does each employee cost you? Make a list of any upcoming equipment purchases that are needed for this year. The goal here is to determine a budget for the year prior to any marketing costs. If you can at least come up with an estimate, that will help you in creating a decent budget for your marketing. Understand that budgets can change each year. Your job is to make sure you stay within your budget.
Will it be expensive?
That is entirely up to you. Marketing can be as expensive or inexpensive as you desire it to be. You have to decide what the most important needs for your business are. The best thing to do is to create a budget up front of what you deem as affordable. Then you stay within that range in regards to your budget for your marketing. It is best to work with an expert that can assist you with staying within your budget in order for you to be able to market your business in the best way possible.
How long will this take?
It depends on what marketing avenues you select. Some things can be totally controlled in regards to time and some things cannot. Especially when you are dealing with 3rd parties that have mandatory waiting periods that you can't do anything about. That is just the way business works. Just focus on the things that are within your control regarding time and set up a schedule based on priority. If you are working with a marketing company, make them aware of your timelines. Keep communication open so that timelines and goals can be met appropriately.
Is this right for my business?
Marketing is right for every business. You just have to know what type of marketing is right for your business. If you have a web business, how are you going to brand yourself to stand out above your competition? What kind of content will you need to separate yourself from the other websites? If you have a retail business, have you printed any flyers or brochures as of yet? Will they appeal to your customers and make them want to come see you?
My name is L.C. Mack. Our team assists small business owners with establishing a strong presence locally as well as on the web. The goal of our blog is to help you while on your journey.