The Very 1st Steps in Starting a Business.
The very 1st steps in starting a business.
If you’re reading this blogpost then you’re on your way to starting your very own business. Congratulations! Doing your research is one of the most important steps.
Let me quickly introduce myself before going into details on how to start your business. I feel like a little backstory might help paint the picture. My name is Ashlee Kleinschmidt. I currently own the Muah Makeup and Lash Bar. At age 24 I opened our very first retail location in Westwood, NJ. I recently launched a fashion & accessories online shop called the Luxe XII Closet.
Long before I called these two businesses my own, I freelanced as a makeup artist in New York City. This was way before social media played a HUGE part in our every day lives. Getting good paying jobs required hustle. I’m talking a lot of effort. Networking, sticking my neck out, and constantly emailing or cold calling agencies, producers, and directors was just the short of it. Despite the hard work it took to get work and to make money, I got a taste of what it was like to work for myself and realized I could never have a boss again.
So I started with a plan for my very first business. Muah Makeup. I realized through working with everyday women that there was a niche missing. There really wasn’t a place that catered to the actual client rather than the sales of products. You ladies know what I’m talking about. How many of you run right through the beauty counter at Nordstrom with your head down trying not to make eye contact? Making sales is important. But I felt if you put your client first, the sales would come.
And so the spark of the dream of my first business idea started. How Muah Makeup became Muah Makeup will be a whole other blogpost.
Let’s talk about the steps I took once I realized that my goal was to start my own business.
1. Find your why. Why is your idea any different? Look, there’s A LOT of people out there who want to be their own boss. And a lot of people who might have an idea similar to yours. Why is yours any different? How will you stand out? What makes your idea special and unique? What is your mission statement? Copy these questions and answer them. Whether it’s one sentence or 5 -- this will help get your mind clear and help you figure out your “why”. You’ll start to see what your business might look like.
2. Put a name on it! What’s the name of your business? You can go down many different avenues here. You can name your business after yourself. You can come up with a name that has a super cute pun. (I’m absolutely terrible at puns so this was off the table for me, lol.) OR you can create a name that has a meaning to you. What helped me was figuring out my “why” and then writing out all the words that my business would stand for or provide.
For example: MUAH is an acronym for “Make Up Artist How to’s”. It’s also the sound of a kiss. I started Muah as a beauty blog, then it snowballed into other businesses.
3. Do your research! No one likes homework. But this is the kind that you need to do. Now that you have your why and your business name, start searching online to see if there are other businesses out there with; 1. Your name. 2. A similar business idea. If they have the same name then make a slight change to make yours unique. Come across someone who has a similar business idea? That’s okay; but you’ll have to make a choice here. You will really need to put emphasis on why you’re different. How will you stand out?
For example: There are HUNDREDS of makeup artists in New Jersey and a ton of beauty studios. How is Muah different? We’re the only shop that specializes in 100% makeup and has our own makeup, skincare, and false lash line. Our team specializes in only makeup. Our brains are not clouded by 20 different services which means our focus and training is only on that one service you’ve come in for.
4. Buy a domain on GoDaddy. At this point you’ve figured out your why, you’ve come up with an idea of how your business will look and you’ve named it the coolest name ever. Time to buy your online domain! You want to go into this part with a few domain ideas because if it’s a really good one name, chances are it’s already taken. You want your domain to match to your business as close as possible so it’s easy for people to remember and easy to roll off your tongue. When buying, you don’t want to put your domain into the GoDaddy search multiple times because they will recognize what you’re looking for and raise the price of your domain! You want to search once, and if it’s available, then buy it.
Tip: Always search for a GoDaddy code. I’ve purchased domains for less than $10 a year!
5. Register your LLC. Are you planning on operating as a legal business? Will this be a main force of income for you? If you’ve answered yes to these questions then you should register your business in your state as an LLC. Forming an LLC is an easy and inexpensive way to add structure to your small business. If you’re a sole proprietor like myself, registering your business as an LLC protects you in worst case scenarios. “The LLC provides protection to the LLC owners by limiting the owner’s personal liability. Generally, this means that business debts owed by the business, and other claims on the business, including liens and lawsuits, are limited to the assets of the business itself. Those holding such liens against the business cannot pursue the personal assets of the business owner(s) in most states and under most circumstances.”
Note: Your LLC doesn’t have to match the name of your business or storefront but in my opinion it should be close. My LLC is “Muah Makeup LLC” even though my storefront is “Muah Makeup and Lash Bar”.
6. Make a logo. So this is a step I almost looked over. How many times I’ve heard “My website is coming along but my designer is taking forever to create a logo.” My response is always “WHAT?!” you can make your own damn logo! Lol. I use Adobe Illustrator for everything. I created my own logo with it and use it for all graphic designs you see on my website and social media pages. Download fonts from Dafont.com and play around with which one looks like your brand and use it to create the base of your logo.
Need clip art? Here’s a tip: Google whatever clip art you're looking for in this format " put your word here clipart png". For example if I was looking for lipsticks I would put "lipstick clipart png". You’d be surprised at how many beautiful graphics are out there and 100% free! Canva is an app I used to create my IG highlights logo. I’m sure you can create a basic one through there to start.
7. Create your website and social media pages! Everyone’s business is different but the one common necessity is web presence. I had a website way before social media was a necessity so my website came first before my social media pages. As time has progressed social media has been my #1 daily focus because of it’s in the moment, free marketing capabilities get customers to my website. But you do need a website for people to land on right? So make sure your website is created first before you put focus on your Instagram or Facebook. If it’s a simple site to showcase photos or a menu Wix.com is a really easy and simple site builder to use. If you are creating an online shop, Shopify is hands down the easiest platform I’ve ever used! It starts at $29.99 a month, tracks your inventory, offers analytics and email marketing, and is used by 90% of online retailers now a days. Your customer will recognize this at checkout and feel comfortable completing their purchase.
8. Create your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages! It’s important to have your business on all of the social media pages. Every social media platform is different. You may find your customer on one platform more so than on another. So figure out who your ideal customer is and focus on the corresponding social media platform. Oh! And make sure that your business page is your business page and your personal is your personal page. If you're a Lifestyle Influencer then showing your personal life is kind of part of the gig. But if you're a cook and posting recipes and videos no one wants to see you and your boo getting twisted on a Friday night. Keep it professional.
Note: Facebook has become a place for families, moms and 40 somethings and older. Instagram is 100% visual and millennial central with a sprinkle of the 40 somethings. Twitter is for those who want their words and thoughts to be heard. Pinterest is another visual platform but more for someone who’s planning or aspiring for a kind of lifestyle. Catching my drift? Pick which platform speaks the most to your business and put in most of your effort there while sprinkling across the others in order of rank.
9. Take really beautiful pictures. I can't tell you how many times my intention was to take a really pretty photo and the lighting was off or the photo came out fuzzy. Do not post something just to post something. This applies to ALL areas of business. Only put your best work and best foot forward.Your content whether it's photos, videos, artwork, or blog posts -- they should always be something you're 100% sure and proud of. I invested in a Nikon camera ( I found it marked down in an amazing bundle here ) and it was the best thing I've ever done to showcase my work. It's connects to your phone via bluetooth and the photos go right to your phone as you take them. Our iPhones area really amazing at capturing photos but this camera takes it to the next level. I also use Adobe Lightroom to edit all of my photos. You can easily brighten up a photo or purchase presets so editing your photos becomes as easy as 1,2,3.
10. GO FOR IT! It's time for you to share what you've been working so hard on.This step is often the hardest. I don't take this step lightly. More than half of businesses fail not because it didn't work out but because they were never brought to fruition due to excuses and fear. Do not let fear control this next step! You've worked so hard. You deserve to show it off! If you don't take a chance, you'll never know what an amazing business you could possibly have. Yes, I know what you're thinking; "Yeah but what if it fails?" "Will people think this is stupid?". It will only fail if you don't put 100% of your heart and effort into it. So stay focused! And SO WHAT if people think it's stupid! Do you know how many people have asked me "MOOAH? What is that? What does that even mean?"And I'm going on the SIXTH year of owning my own business. Everyone is going to have their opinions. If you know in your spirit that this will fill your heart with passion, then take that leap because you never know, you just might fly.
I hope this checklist helps guide you with the very first steps you need to start your business! Comment below and tell me how this checklist has helped you jumpstart your first business. I'd love to post and share your success! XOX, Ashlee K.