Whether you’re preparing to quit your 9 to 5 job, growing a side hustle, or have simply been dreaming about how you can turn your talents into a full time gig, the thought of running a profitable business feels daunting.
While you prepare for your first booked client, you can do a few things now to minimize your learning curve and come across as experienced. Taking time to plan out these important aspects of your business will make future decisions easier. Would you rather take time to analyze the pros and cons of invoicing services now, or the day your first client books? A fledgling business can lose out on those early customers when these details aren’t in place.
Everyone who has started a business wishes they had started on a better foot. While you can’t possibly create a perfectly polished business right out the gate, there are plenty of resources and services available that make starting out much easier. While you’re saving up to make the leap, here are four things you can work on to save yourself a few headaches later.
Define your business
This sounds like a no-brainer, but have you defined your business? Why are you launching this business? What exactly do you offer? Who are you helping? How does it improve their life or why would someone choose your product or service?
The more narrowly you can define what you do, the clearer it will be to those you are hoping to help. And, while you’re at it, identifying your perfect audience will make it easier to fine-tune your products to target their needs and pain points.
You should be able to distill your business into one clarifying sentence. Any more than that, and the purpose of business will be confusing to both you and your customers.
There are MANY ways to arrange this clarifying sentence! To get you started, here’s a helpful example:
Next, define your business core values. Which ones can you commit to, and which will your customer base value? What is at the heart of your business and how do you hope it will be judged by others? While you don’t have to publicly state them, core values will be an underlying guide for all your decisions. Be selective. From 3-6 is a good range.
Core values describe the relationship you want to create with your customers and with the greater community. Core values are often things like; attention to detail, transparency, service, philanthropy, or craftsmanship. Often we’re drawn to ones that align with our personal values, and that’s not a bad thing!
Lastly, take time to create a brand personality, or brand voice. Determine how you want to come across in all your written content. Should you sound serious and professional? Lighthearted and casual? Getting this wrong can send an immediate signal that you’re out of touch with the people you’re hoping to work with.
If you’ve never sat down and answered these questions, it’s crucial that you do. Perhaps you’ll realize there are some unresolved issues with the ideas that’ve been swirling around your head. Now is the time to sort out what you plan to do, and commit to a solid idea.
Plan a seamless customer experience
What tools do you need to run your business smoothly? What would be the ideal process for handling clients or customers? Working out a fluid system creates an excellent customer experience. It is this level of attention that will win repeat business and glowing recommendations.
Start by mapping out how someone discovers your business, how they learn more about your business, when and how they decide to purchase your product or service, how they make a payment, how you will provide the product or service, and how you handle any issues or follow up after the transaction is complete. At what points and how do you directly interact with customers? How much of this process can be automated, and will you need to hire assistance?
While you may find that you have to switch tools down the road, having them picked out now will save you time and headaches with your first clients. (And, you may be able to snag a deal if you start early!)