how to start a small business

How to Start a Small Business

Apr 30, 2024

 You have a dream to start a business. You have this great idea and you can see it starting to take shape. Maybe you’ve even run it by some friends and family members, and they think it has potential, too. But how do you actually get it off the ground? 

There are many different ways to run a small business and getting started can get overwhelming. I know from personal experience that step one—getting the ball rolling—can be so paralyzing! What is step one, anyway? And whose advice can you follow? Do you just copy and paste what someone else is doing?

Having worked with thousands of entrepreneurs all over the country as a certified business coach, here is the step-by-step process I created to start your business. 

1. Decide on your product or service.

If you’ve landed on this article, I’m assuming you already have some idea about what you want to do. Something you’re really good at, brings you joy, or maybe it’s a need you see in the marketplace that excites you. Whatever your idea is, it’s something you feel called to do. 

It takes more than desire to make money doing that thing. Just remember that anything you sell or provide should make your customers’ lives better in some way. 

Now it’s time to get super clear on what you have to offer, and I recommend starting small. Start with one product and prove the concept before you offer a dozen variations. In the process of perfecting your one thing, you’ll build demand, revenue, and business experience.

2. Write out a business plan (based on your values) for the year.

There are a million ways the actual flow of your business could probably go. I’m talking about how and when the work gets done, who does what, how you’ll take payment… all of that. 

But here’s the main thing to keep in mind: Your business should support your life, your family, your dreams, and your goals. So, you need to know what those are. If you don't know what life you want, your small business can't help you create the freedom, flexibility, and income you want.

Start with this: What do you want for your life this year? What do you not want this year?

Answering those two questions will help you structure your whole business plan. Your answers will inform things like your:

  • Revenue goals
  • Pricing
  • Business policies
  • Schedule and operating hours
  • Marketing plan
  • Need for hiring outside help 

For example, I do want to spend more focused time with my kids this year. And—as someone newly diagnosed with ADHD—I don’t want to spend my time and energy on work that distracts and drains me. 

Here are three decisions I made in my coaching business based on those values:

I offer three-month contracts with clients.

Some coaches require six or twelve month commitments, but twelve months of anything sounds overwhelming to me. It doesn’t make me feel good to be locked into the same thing for an entire year. That doesn’t mean I won’t work with the same client year after year—it just means I have more flexibility.

I contract out the work I can’t or don’t want to do.

I don’t desire to employ a large team. Leading employees isn’t a passion of mine, and the financial overhead is a risk I don’t want to take on. I’m happy to hire a freelance email marketer or web developer to live in their strengths while I live in mine.

I take Fridays off for family time. 

I want the flexibility to be present with my kids in this season while they're young. I want to be able to go on their field trips or leave early for a long weekend at the lake. In my line of work, Fridays felt like the best day to give myself the hours to do that. 

3. Conduct customer research. 

Who is your target customer? At a minimum, have an age and gender in mind. Understanding their needs, preferences, and behavior could make or break your business.

You can data about your target customer through a variety of platforms: Google Forms surveys, Instagram polls, in-person interviews, and more. When conducting consumer research, try to get outside of your family and close friends’ group… even though they may be the easiest to ask. You’re going for unbiased opinions, here; not Aunt Susie saying whatever you want to hear because she believes in you and thinks you’re awesome.   

One effective method of customer research is called the SWOT Analysis. SWOT helps you identify and evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing your small business. Here's a breakdown of each component:

  • Strengths: Where does your business or idea excel? This could include factors like a strong brand reputation, unique product offerings, your skills and expertise, efficient processes, or a loyal customer base.
  • Weaknesses: What could hinder your business or idea? This could include limited financial resources, outdated technology, lack of brand awareness, or missing skills or experience. 
  • Opportunities: What could you capitalize on? This could include market trends, partnerships or collaborations, or offering something your competitors don’t. 
  • Threats: What could pose challenges or risks to your business? This could include factors like intense competition, rising cost of materials, economic downturns, or shifting market trends.

In the process of researching, you might realize your target customer isn’t who you originally thought it was. That’s okay! That’s why this step is so important in the early stages of starting a small business. 

Once you have enough data to go on, you can tailor your offerings to meet their wants and needs. You can also use this information to differentiate yourself from competitors. Be sure to highlight what makes you unique in all of your marketing materials.

4. Learn basic marketing skills.

You’ll need to promote your small business—even if you don’t want to spend a lot on marketing. Start to familiarize yourself with concepts like a marketing funnel, branding, content, and messaging. 

The main point you want to get across in all of your marketing is the specific problem your business solves. A potential customer is always asking, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure every piece of your marketing efforts answer that clearly for them.    

Digital marketing for your small business

These days, people aren’t inclined to pick up the phone and gush over your latest offerings to their friends. But they do share content. Video rants, hilarious memes, TikTok how-to’s…

Social media offers both free and paid ways to engage with your customer, increase brand awareness, and potentially collect email addresses. 

And speaking of email addresses, growing your email list is one of the best things you can do for your business. Having a base of potential customers you can communicate with directly when you have sales, promotions, new offerings, and more is valuable for any type of business. In fact, my main business goal for this year is to get more people on my email list. Almost all of my efforts are pointing at that. 

Your marketing doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, it just needs to feel authentic and clearly communicate what you want people to know.

Launch Your Small Business! 

I know these steps can give you the traction you need to start your small business. As you’re dreaming and making plans, remember to keep asking yourself: What do you want for your business and for your life? What do you not want? Once you’re confident in that, you’ll feel better about every decision you make from there. 

It's time to actually get the accountability and support you need to launch your business. I created my Goal Getters Club to make it easier for you! When you join the Goal Getters Club, you don't have to do it on your own any longer. You'll get coaching directly from me on the steps we covered in this article—and truly, so much more. Go from scattered and overwhelmed to confident and proud within the first 30 days.

Get your spot and let's launch your business! 


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