Seven Steps to Startup
Identified a new venture opportunity and ready to take action? Congratulations!
To get your started on the path to establishing your business, and setting a solid foundation for the future, my tips and resources are shared here.
1. NAMING YOUR COMPANY
Deciding of the name of your business is a prerequisite to filing the legal documents for the company, reserving your website, etc. Beyond brainstorming on a name that you like, and will hopefully resonate with customers, there are two BIG considerations.
- Is the domain available? I highly recommend selecting a domain where the .com is available. No dashes in the domain. No clever spellings of your name. Make it easy for customers to find your online by naming your business simply, and finding a name where the domain is available. Visit 1&1 to begin your domain name search.
- Is the name legally available? In the U.S. and many countries, trademarks allow you to own your name, and protects others from your using their name. Start with a basic trademark search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or your home country's equivalent.
- Is another business in your state already using this name? LegalZoom offers a free entity name check to see if your desired business name is available for you to reserve or if the name is already in use.
2. AGREEING TO TEAM
If you are starting your company with others, be sure to create an operating agreement to establish the grounds rules for your company. The operating agreements establishes the roles and responsibilities of the team members, the ownership split, and related key areas to decide at the onset of the company.
On LegalZoom search for "operating agreement" to get started by answering several questions about yourself and your company, and their software will do the rest.
3. ESTABLISHING YOUR COMPANY
If you are sued by a customer, supplier, or anyone else, do you want to protect your personal assets? To mitigate these and other issues, invest your time and money to officially establish your business.
While there are many different types of businesses, my favorite is an LLC. For me, LLCs allow me to shield my personal assets from business liabilities, while giving me the flexibility to run my businesses efficiently, and minimize tax liabilities.
LegalZoom provides a nice overview of the different types of business structures, and easy-to-use interfaces to file your business formation documents at a reasonably low cost.
4. CRAFTING YOUR BRAND
Before announcing your product or service to customers, crafting your brand is critical. This is an opportunity to create the image that embodies your vision for your company.
99designs is my go-to place for finding affordable, accomplished designers for logos, business card designs, packaging design, and more. Designers compete for your work based on guidance that you provide, and you can choose the winners for your competitions.
5. CONSTRUCTING YOUR WEBSITE
Now that your company is named and established, and you brand is created, you are ready to setup your website. With 1&1, you can choose from thousands of customizable design templates and versatile business web apps, along with
image and text suggestions for your website.
6. COMMUNICATING WITH CUSTOMERS
It's never to early to begin communicating with prospective (and current ) customers. Email marketing and social media go hand-in-hand in delivering a recurring line of communications with customers.
By including an email collector form on your website, you can access prospective customers. Also be sure to ask for emails from new customers. These lists provide you with the opportunity to share future news, promotions, advice, and other material with customers.
- If you're interested in creating newsletters and occasional announcements, Constant Contact is one of the easiest to use, and most affordable, email marketing tools on the market. Try their free trial.
- For a more comprehensive solution that includes auto-responder campaigns and broadcast messages, I use GetResponse.
7. BUILDING YOUR BRAND
Once your name and brand are established, it's time to start building your brand. Creating and managing your social media presence is an increasing necessity for tech and non-tech businesses alike.
After you've created your own accounts with your business name for each social media channel, you can save a ton of time monitoring and managing your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles one web-based dashboard with Hootsuite. Take advantage of their free 30-day trial.