Starting a Business (First Things First)

Starting a new business? Don't quite know where to begin? I know, I know. All of the light bulbs that go off in our heads when coming up with grand ideas can get overwhelming. Hopefully you've already brainstormed, destroyed some notebooks and ran out of paper to get all of your ideas out of the noggin. Once you're set on what it is that you'd like to do, read ahead for some basics to begin this business thing for real!

The small stuff can seem irrelevant, but you need to get it out of the way to make sure you have taken the necessary steps to build you up for the big stuff! Now of course, everyone doesn’t do things in the same order and you don’t always need to. But if you’re at phase one and don’t know where to begin; here’s a guideline on the very basic “firsts” that you should take heed of when starting your first business!

1. Think of a name.. But think hard, and you’ll need a pen and paper. Or Google docs, Word Document, Notepad; whatever suits you best to brainstorm with! I recommend to pull up and look for synonyms of the word that describes your business and words that mirror the service you’re offering or what you are selling. You want your name to be UNIQUE, something that sets you apart from competition. For example, hairstylists all over have the name “Hair by”, or “Hairstyles by”, and that is perfectly fine and specific for clients to automatically know what you do. Synonym search the word “hair” and try out some of those options for your brand. You’ll see more savvy and non-traditional names such as styles, tresses, beauty, charm and more! You want your name to reflect your brand altogether, so make sure it is something you love and will stay consistent to. If you offer or plan on offering multiple services, make sure to keep that in mind as well, so that you won’t be “stuck” with a name or forced to register many different names when becoming legal.

2. A Logo! Aside from the brand name, the brand logo is the most important. This should be the first look that viewers see when entering your social media pages, website, or when visiting you in person! When finding a graphic designer (You’re on my website, you should be choosing me!), make sure this is a designer who has a portfolio/work from the past to show you! I personally only purchase from people with 5+ awesome reviews/works. If you don’t find 5 or more previous works that you like, you may want to stay away. And this isn’t to say that the designer is not good, but every designer is not good for your brand. Some focus mainly on glitz and glamour logo, so may not be able to pull of the corporate look you are trying to achieve. Some may mainly get minimalistic orders, so you may not be pleased when you request a gaudy logo. Do enough research to where you’ll feel comfortable putting your brand in their hands. Make sure they know how to create logos that can past the time test! You don’t want to have a logo that looks good now, but in 3 years will be seen as too childish for your crowd.

3. Legalize your business! The first step in legalizing your brand is forming an LLC. Which is a limited liability company. There are other formations of legalizing as well, but the most common is an LLC is you are a small business. Getting an LLC is the first step in making your business legal, but depending on what you do, you may have to get a few more licenses. Each state/county has different laws for what you need. So you definitely need to check online or with your Secretary of State. For example, if you have a building for your business you definitely will need a business license. Working from home, you may still need a business license depending on what you do. For me, as a graphic designer I do not need one. Researching is important in this step. There are many articles out there to help guide you, as each occupation requires something different.

4. Know the crowd you are catering to! When beginning, you definitely need make sure to connect with the crowd that you are catering to. This also ties in with the logo, because every look doesn’t catch the attention of every demographic. Now depending on your services, you may (most likely) plan on broadening your crowd to other demographics that you haven’t yet touched. That is an awesome thing to do, as we definitely love diverse clients. Diversity in clientele bring your MORE clientele.. But, to start, focus on who your crowd is for so that you can perfect it and then focus on reaching those who may not look your way first go around. If you are opening a nail salon, your crowd will mainly be women, so try to make your look something that will catch the eyes of every woman. When dominating your field and getting noticed by your main client base, you will get your first male client, who will post your work and get you even more male clients. Then, you are noticed by everyone!

5. Social Media! In this day and age, it is very important that you have a social media account for your business. When your business starts to pop off, people will start tagging your name when people ask for recommendations. It is better for people to tag your business name so that clients don’t stay on your personal page and have to search high and low for your website link, portfolio, etc. Create an instagram for it, facebook, twitter, and if you’re into vlogging or doing tutorials you definitely need a Youtube. Make sure to market yourself HEAVILY on each platform. Place LOTS of hashtags under each post. Your followers will rise! I have a blog post dedicated to social media marketing that you should check out!

6. DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND DO IT THE BEST THAT YOU CAN EACH TIME! Of course this is easy to say. But I think lots of people can agree that they have slacked off sometimes for various reasons. Treat each client/customer/work as if Beyonce is commissioning it. You’ve been working 10 hours straight and have one last full set of nails to do? Treat those nails like they’re Beyonce’s nails. You’ve been working 7 days straight on this website and want to just get it over with, as tomorrow is the deadline? Put everything else to the side and treat that website like it’s Beyonce’s website! Lol you get the stitch.

Those are the basics for starting a small business! Of course there’s so much more that can be said! Make sure to check out my other blog posts for elaboration on some of these points. Do your OWN research and NEVER give up on your dreams!

- Artish

CEO of Artish Design, LLC
Teshia Smith

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