Starting a new business is exciting! You have a great service, product or idea that you can't wait to get out there . . . but hold on! Before you get started, you want to make sure that you start off on the right foot. Looking professional and attractive is what will have potential customers willing to put their confidence in you. Whether you are running a retail store or online business, this checklist will help you start off being organized and looking fabulous.
1. Choose a Business Name
The name of your business is important. It's a creative way of advertising what you offer. Try to avoid initials and numbers. For example, if John and Mary are starting a landscaping business, instead of going with "J & M Landscaping" try for something creative like, "Sage Garden Landscaping" (example not literal). View the 2 minute video to give you a brief overview on how best to go about choosing a business name. For small and home businesses, it's not necessary to hire a name branding company as the video suggests, just make sure you to do the proper registered business and trademark searches to avoid any issues.
TIP / Stuck deciding on a business name? Look up "free business name generators" in the search engine or find a crowdsourcing contest online to pay creatives to help you choose a business name.
2. Register Your Business Name
Rules are different in every country/province/state/region. Do online research on your government website for information that will you tell you how to register your business. Please note that registering your business and trademarking the name are two entirely different things.
TIP / Not sure where to start? Type in "how to register a business name in <your city>" in the search engine.
3. Have Your Logo Created
A logo is the utmost important first step towards branding your business. It will help set the stage for the rest of your branding: website, promo materials, colours, etc. If the logo is whimsical, it encourages the rest of your business to be fun. If the logo is serious, it evokes a professional tone . . . I believe you get the idea.
4. Write Out Everything You Want On Your Website
This is a really important step! Not only will it help you have all your website content ready to go for when your website is being developed, but it will help you organize your business plan. Use a program on your computer to type out all the information you want on your website (or write it down, if you're the pen and paper type).
TIP / Outline your pages in the following format:
• Pages to go on your website (ie. Home, About, Services, Menu, Contact, etc.)
• Content to go on each of the pages
• List each service and product you offer. Include: Title of service/product, description, price, options, etc.
5. Get a Website
A website is so important to have for a business, since the determining factor for many people is what information they can find out about you on your website. It's also important to have an aesthetically-pleasing website and not to settle for whatever you can just get up online. A good-looking website will offer confidence in your site visitors.
6. Have Your Logo Printed on Uniforms
If you're running a physical location that has direct in-person communication with customers, it's always professional to get uniforms printed with your logo on it. There are lots of companies that offer stylish clothes nowadays that you can get logos printed or embroidered on.
TIP / Trying to sift through a sea of promotional companies for uniforms? We think www.customink.com is pretty cool.
7. Get Promos Designed
No one is going to know you exist (outside of a website search), unless you have promotions designed for you to hand out, mail out or post up on a sign somewhere. Promos would include: Business cards, postcards, letterhead, flyers, door hangers, etc. Make it eye-catching and to the point. Don't overload people with too much information on your promos or they will just glaze over it.
TIP / Need a promo designed for your company? View our design services page to see what we got in store for you.
8. Signup for an Online Invoicing System
If you're taking orders or sending quotes through email or billing customers for your service, you need an online invoicing system. Invoices in Excel or Microsoft Word just doesn't cut it and is an accounting nightmare.
TIP / We recommend using an online invoicing service like AND CO (it's free!). If you are using Wix for your website platform, they offer a free invoicing system that comes with your website.
9. Utilize Trello For Organization
Trello is a great tool for those that need to organize projects, notes, to-dos and more. It allows you to create a card that you title and you can add images, comments and more to that card. Take a look at our blog post, Organize Your Projects With Trello to see how to utilize Trello.
TIP / Avoid saving all your emails in your inbox as a source as organization. This can get really overwhelming after a period of time.
10. Track Expenses
All expenses you use that pertain to your business, make sure you track each one. Expenses will help towards your taxes at the end of the year and decrease the amount of money you owe the government. Some examples of business expenses would be: Monthly bank fees, fees for any programs or services you are using (ie. online invoicing system, payment processor fees, etc.), gas, office supplies, phone bill, website domain and hosting, graphic designer fees, etc.
TIP / Refer to #8 for more information of what online invoice system to choose. You should choose one that allows you to track your expenses as well.
We hope this information helps you to get started off on the right foot!