Business Start Up 101

In talking with many different friends, colleagues, and various martial artists turned instructors on Facebook; I have come to find that there’s a lot of people that don’t have any idea how to begin their business.

I was talking with my wife the other day I really wanted to write some things down to help those starting a business get a good footing and a reference point to start from.

I am going to attempt to make this a multi part series to help all of you interested.

There are some things I mention that will be a little vague and you may have to do some more footwork on your own and somethings I will try to be more detailed.

I started my first business when I was 10 years old; did pretty good for myself too! My business was called Kidmarks: Bookmarks made by kids.

I had a website and a business phone line as well as employees. I had gone around and hired neighborhood kids to help in my endeavor and I would pay them up to 20% of the net profit.

We became large enough to even catch the eye of the local radio stations in San Diego.

We brought in a few thousand over the summer.

And over the past almost 20 years later I’m continuing in my business ventures and entrepreneur mindset.

Let me help you become successful!

If you want to start your own business I would like to help. As I mentioned I will make a multi part article series on ideas, tips & tricks that will help you in the early stages of your personal business.

To start off, let’s start with W5/H. Something you learned to do in elementary school and have probably glossed over the importance of it.

Who, what, where, when & why
Oh and how.

I recommend writing these down because you will need to reference this list as a map of your business.

You should rewrite this list about once a month as you may find that in growth and change your focus may shift.

Who:

Who is your target audience. With this means is what type of people will your product or service be beneficial to?

Are you looking for a specific age group? A specific genre of employment? Will you be looking at the location certain people may live or work or hang out at?

What:

What do you do or what type of product do you have? What makes your product or service better than someone else in a similar or identical field?

Where:

Where do you plan on providing your service or where do you plan on selling your product? How will your location affect your business or the ability to perform your service?

When:

When will you be doing business? Not just the time of day or days of week but you must focus on if there are times of year that your service or product may be in a higher or lower demand. When you may have to be doing more footwork or marketing or networking to try to promote yourself or your product.

Why:

Why this? Why this venture? Why do people need your product? Why should people choose you to perform your service? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you as you will find that many questions people ask of you will relate to “why.”

How:

How do you plan on doing this? How will you start? If it is a product that you are selling, will you pre purchase a certain amount and sell those and then use profits to increase your inventory?

Or will you take orders and purchase on demand and sell in that manner?

As far as your service goes, can you do it in a park in the summertime? Do you need to rent a room at a facility of individuals who have a similar business? Will you need to rent your own spot in a strip mall?

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Now that you have a map or framework of Who – what – where – when – why & how you will do business?
We need to create the image of your business.

Name:

You must really give time to the name of your business. You want it to show who you are and what you do in as few words as possible. Things you must consider is that people will be searching for you in search engines.

You also want the name of your business to be different, unique and applicable to the city or state in which you live.

Remember you can use all or parts of your name or product or service or even an inspirational thought.

Logo:

You will need a logo for all of your uniform, business card, website, letterhead etc.

You will need to be simple yet dynamic. What I mean by this is you do not want something that would be an entire cityscape with buildings and windows and cars and an entire scene. But you could do an outline of a skyline. To make it dynamic you can put a few other items in an alternate color or angle.

You want your logo to be easily recognizable from a distance. Something that is unique and different from other people in your field.

Uniform:

Make something that is similar to other professionals in your field but also unique and different. Make sure to put your logo on your uniform somewhere as well as your website and possibly a motto.

Business Cards:

Less is more (in regards to design.) Be unique & be different.

Make sure you have your name, what you do or a title, phone number, email address & website.

Sometimes a QR code is helpful as people can scan your business card and be taken directly to the website.

Marketing Material:

Remember that “who” question?

That is called your target market and “marketing” material is any type of medium that you use to bring attention of your target market toward yourself, your service or your product.

This is any type of advertising, fliers, posters, Brochures etc.

Don’t forget to take advantage of any free resources you can like Craigslist or other online ad listing websites.

Website:

This does sort of fall under marketing. But even more so, it gives you more credibility; more professionalism. A backed image. Web sites cost a decent amount of money. Even on the low-end we are still talking $100-200 just for the domain name. So showing that you are willing to put money into your business makes you vetted.

Email:

You know what?!

I hate e-mail! However, ALL business professionals rely on e-mail for communication. Now, you also should set up Facebook, Twitter or other social media for communication with younger generations and more popular social interactions but e-mail cannot be skipped.

Huge no-no: using a personal e-mail for business.

Free e-mail addresses (@gmail @hotmail @yahoo @live) are frowned upon but still better than using a personal e-mail address.

No one will take you seriously if they’re doing business with sk8erBoi12 or CheerleaderGurl35.

Go ahead and do [email protected] ___.com until you can get e-mail hosting with your website.

Phone Number:

This goes hand and hand with the web site. There are apps and companies that will give you call forwarding, message service and even a 24hr call answering system. If nothing else, CHANGE YOUR ANSWERING message.
Just like with the e-mail address, if someone calls and they hear “yo Y’all know who this is. Leave a message after the beep losers!” you will never get a second phone call.

Credit Card System:

Although cash is king, having the ability to accept card payments will greatly increase your ability to accept sales at any given time.

Before you can accept credit card payments however you must first set up a business account.
Now you do not need to set up a business account if you currently have a personal account but it sure will make things a lot easier to keep track as well as separated from any personal matters (and your tax agent will thank you.)

If you bring in less than $5000 per year you really do not need to incorporate your business which is to say getting a S-Corp or LLC etc. (although they do offer better liability and insurance protection.)

These cost a few hundred to thousand to set up and require legal aid as well.

Until you accrue enough business to require that sort of incorporation you should be fine doing business with a DBA.

You can apply for this at your local city hall and is usually under $75 dollars. DBA stands for “doing business as” and is literally just a paper recorded with the county recorders office that says that your name (you) is the same as (interchangeable with) your business name and if you want to accept checks in the name of your business. That’s pretty much it.

It literally means that you personally are doing business as your business name.

Let’s say your name is John Smith and you have a vacuum company called City Vacuums. Somebody writes a check to City Vacuums, then you on your DBA can cash that check.

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Don’t forget to keep all of your receipts. Create some kind of day sales ending ledger & track of all of your costs and profits.

I hope this helps any of you who may be struggling.

One love. Walk on & Choose Greatness!