Last week I attended my first ever Twitter chat - #startyourbusiness. It was fab! Totally exhilarating and captivating. I didn't know what I was doing or getting into (more on that on another blog post coming soon!!) but I was glad I took part. The twitter chat was all about starting your own business and not only did I contribute my design and branding thoughts about starting my own business, but I also gained a better understanding of other small businesses who have advice based on their experiences.
I thought all the tips that were shared were very valid and so today I wanted to share these awesome tips for fellow small businesses owners or potential owners.
1 | Research, research, research
I couldn't agree more with this tip!! It's so vitally important to research when starting a new business. There is sometimes an endless list of "things" to research, but the top ones that spring to my mind are:
- Research your audience, your market, your niche, and find out what your ideal clients want.
- Research if there are any other businesses with a similar name and find out if the domain and social media handles are available.
- Research how to market yourself and find out where your potential clients "hang out".
Although these are easier said than done, and can sometimes take longer than you think, they are super important to do and re-evaluate over time.
2 | Know your potential customer/client base
This tip follows on from the above. If you know who you are targeting it should be easier to market to them (in theory). As long as you know who they are and what they want, you can start to build a marketing campaign to target to them.
3 | Don't let branding and design be an after thought
A lot of small businesses or startups tend to leave branding and design to later on in the process. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe it's for financial reasons or lack of creative knowledge, but in this day and age where image is very important, and can help you stand out in the crowd, I would say make sure your image is in line with your business vision. I ask my clients to carry out some homework which helps me and them to understand their business in more depth, this is really helpful when creating a brand.
4 | Training
When starting a small business you are never going to know everything. There will be a time in your journey, whether at the start or once you are established, to attend training sessions. A word of advice that came out of the Twitter chat I was on was to "attend any free training you can find and network with other local businesses" - This made total sense to me after I read it! It literally says it how its reads. There is always something to learn so if it works out and time permits, take the opportunity to learn and educate yourself if you get the chance. Esp if it is free!
5 | Network with other local businesses
Starting your own business can be difficult, lonely, and not to mention confusing sometimes. One way to make it easier for yourself is to network. Network with local businesses, other businesses in your industry, and even with family and friends. By building relationships with people around you, you build trust. By building trust you can become the go-to person for your expertise, or you can find the people to support you when you need advice, and you build a circle of friends, and business friends.
6 | Set up a professional email address
Coming back to the branding aspect of starting your small business, I can't believe how many startups forget to or do not actively prioritise setting up a professional email address. It's such a crucial step that can leverage your business professionalism that it is honestly too important to ignore, or delay. In case you are not familiar with what I mean - which ones appears to be more professional - email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. By using your own domain address you are naturally making your small business more professional.
7 | Set up email a signature
As above, setting up an appropriate email signature is something that can easily slip the minds of a small business owner. Your email signature is often a final point of communication to your client/customer and so it should be branded. A good email signature is usually simple, clean, professional and informative. It needs to include all the relevant information like your logo, name, title, website, phone number (if you conduct business over the phone) and even social media links.
8 | The right people
Starting a small business can be challenging, just like in point 5, where I have mentioned networking and how important it is, it is also vital to surround yourself with the right people. Having supportive peers, friends, business buddies and family can make a world of difference.
9 | Be helpful
When I started my own business I knew one thing. I knew what I was doing when it came down to designing brands and websites. That's my thing. I didn't know about the best way to market myself, or what tools to use to help organise my business, but I asked questions. I networked and I mingled with other small businesses and I found that people are really helpful. I also learnt that being helpful to others who do not necessarily have as much creative design knowledge as me is a great way to helping others start their business and to gain clients. By being helpful, not only am I helping others, but I am helping myself.
10 | Brand consistency
Working as a designer that builds strong brands and beautiful websites, I can't highlight the importance of brand consistency enough. Your branding needs to be consistent in all area that will be seen or experienced by your client or customer. That means using the right logo, fonts, colours, on your website, social media images, business cards, and other print material too.
I hope these tips are useful to you if you are starting a small business or have already taken that step.
Thanks to Emma of Emma Reed, Freelance Virtual Assistance for bringing the Twitter chat to my attention.
What tip do you think anyone starting their own business would find useful?