First Things to Do Before Starting a Business

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You’ve found a great idea you think will make an amazing business but you don’t know where to start. This is totally understandable and a lot of people go through this. There’s a lot that goes into a business that in all the excitement, it can be easy to forget to check them off before launching into the world.

When I ran my e-commerce business, I launched without checking to ensure my customers could pay securely on my website. I remember checking and wondering why people were adding to cart but then leaving the site after. Thankfully I was able to realize this within the first 30 minutes of launching and fixed it immediately. That day, I made almost $2,000 in sales. Who knows if that number could have been higher if I had known ahead of time, but at least I was able to rectify this before it was too late.

For the purpose of this post however, I will be focusing more on the beginning stages of starting a business and things you need to check for. I will write more posts on this that will focus on other stages of starting a business.

CREATE A LIST

Before you dive into anything, create a list of things you need to achieve. This will include goals and what I’m going to mention below to check for before launching the business. You can use a simply notepad for this or use any other list manager online. We have planners in The Vault as well that can keep you on track once you figure out what things need to be done.

CUSTOMER RESEARCH

Once you have your list written down, it’s time to go talk to your customers. You need to figure out if they will actually pay for whatever it is you’re offering. Skipping this step could become costly down the line. You will spend so much time reiterating that you might just give up before you can even begin. During this stage is where you can develop your customer persona! This is the person that will buy into your solution and thus you need to start building with her in mind.

WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

Don’t waste your time falling in love with the idea and choosing names before you write a business plan. How will you make money? How viable is the business? Who are your customers? Where are they from? What is their spending habit? Who are your competitors? What is your value proposition in comparison to them? What channels will you use to reach your customers? Once you have an answer to all this, it will inform the next steps. We have a one-pager business plan in The Vault that can help with this.

BRAINSTORM A BUSINESS NAME

Once you have an idea down and you have a general idea of the solution you believe you are bringing to your ideal customers, it’s time to brainstorm a name that suits the business. The name must speak to your customers and give a highlight on what your business is. When choosing a name, ensure it’s easily pronounceable. It’s all fun and games to have a name that isn’t really spelt properly just because it looks cool, but think about when customers are trying to refer clients to you and what a complicated name can cause. When I was brainstorming a name for my e-commerce business, I really liked ‘The Vanity Parlour’ and was so close to buying the domain until when the agent on the phone asked me if it was without the “u” or with the “u.” You might think this isn’t a big deal but that was the moment I knew the name had to go. I can’t have my clients confused on whether the “u” is included or not and in the world of SEO, you want to be extremely careful on the name you choose and the spelling.

CHECK THE NAME

So, you’ve come up with a name that you are obsessed with and know that your customers will be too. You want to jump right into creating a logo and branding for the business. Pause! This is a rookie mistake because chances are, someone has the name. It’s hard to think of a name and believe you were the first person to think of it. This is the time to check everywhere to see if the name has been taken. Search online, check if the domain is available, check all social media accounts and see if another business is already using the name. There can be a situation where a social media account has your name but they haven’t been active or they are in an entirely different business, in these situations, you can decide if you want to move ahead or not. For example, Twenty-Four Hour Woman has an IG account, however, the person does drawing and is not close to this business. I had to decide whether or not I really loved the name enough to use it still. I decided I did and since the domain was free and no one has registered a business using the name, I went ahead and bought the domain and registered the business.

DOMAIN

Once you’ve checked across the web that your name is free, go ahead and get the domain. When getting your domain, make sure you pay for private registration. I know it’s good to try and save money but protecting your information should be a priority. I always use GoDaddy to purchase my domain.

SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

You should sign up for all social media with your name as soon as you decide on the name. This should be done in tandem of getting the domain. Register your domain everywhere - even if you think you won’t need or use the social media account. Better to be safe than sorry!

YOUR LOGO

Ooh I can talk on the importance of a logo. Your logo is so important because your customers must be able to resonate with it. When choosing the logo for TFHW, I had a general idea of what I wanted it to look like but I had to go online to draw inspiration from different places. Thankfully, I found the one that I felt will really speak to the brand and I went ahead and purchased it. When getting a logo, ensure you get it in different formats (size and color). My logo has a black, white and gold version. It also has different sizes for different reasons. For example, if I wanted to print my logo on a shirt or something, I was able to do that. Ask your designer for as much options as possible. I always use Etsy to find inspiration for a logo and also to commission the designer. The logos are cheap and depending on the designer, are amazing quality.

WEBSITE

Depending on the time of business, a website is important. For an online store, it is imperative that you choose a platform that best suits your needs. There are various sites online that you can do research on to determine which works best. If you’re starting a blog, you probably don’t need a full-featured platform however, if you need to collect payments and ship products to your customers, a full-featured platform might be needed.

REGISTER THE BUSINESS

This might not apply to you and really depends on the type of business you’re trying to run but registering the business as soon as possible will save you in the long-run. You will be able to get access to benefits from the government and when it comes to liability, this will be moved over to the business and not you, the individual (depends on the type of registration).

These are some things to check for before moving forward with a business. This list does not promise to be exhaustive and you should still do your own research to ensure you have checked everything.

Written by Victory Omotayo