“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” –Henry David Thoreau
If you’ve been dreaming about starting a business and are ready for the rubber to hit the road, so to speak, AEK Solutions is here to help.
Launching and running a business can be very rewarding, but it can also be very stressful. A great deal of time, money, and energy goes into starting a business, which, unfortunately, isn’t as exciting as the dreaming process. However, if you do your homework and assemble a reliable network of outside professionals to handle your branding, website development, social media, and sales-oriented marketing, your project can not only launch, but fly.
Why Do You Want to Start Your Own Business?
The right motivation for starting a business might include any of the following:
- Because you see a missing product or service in a field that excites you and that you are uniquely capable of.
- Because you are passionate about your idea and believe it will be rewarding emotionally, intellectually, and financially.
- Because you see your path forward so clearly, you can’t *not* start your own business!
Start Building an SEO and Social Media Presence Early
To be most effective with your digital marketing, you do not want to wait until you open your doors before trying to find your customers. Instead of pouncing on initial customers with a hard sell, having a relationship with an existing audience will be priceless. They’ll help hone your message and will teach you a lot along the way.
Professional digital content marketing creators are going to be invaluable from day one. They will help craft your branding, desired SEO keywords, website SEO optimization, website development, marketing plan, landing pages, emails, social media profiles, and everything else. Among our deep bench of content creators will be a few who deeply resonate with your tone, “voice”, messaging, and style. Many business experts say that your success, especially in the beginning, relies heavily on keeping readers’ attention with well-written and engaging copy. As we like to say, “Marketing without good content is like food without salt.”
Part of putting a foundation under your castle is completing several not-so-exciting tasks. Some things need to be completed along the way, like forming a legal entity, applying for funding, and obtaining necessary business licenses and permits. Fortunately, various online resources can help you nearly every step of the way. For instance, you can file an LLC and get a tax ID number online in less than an hour.
An article on BusinessNewsDaily.com, How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business, will give you a basic idea of the different types of business structures exist and what your options are. It’s a big decision and understanding the pros and cons of your options is crucial. Forming a limited liability company (LLC) is a popular choice and has a number of benefits including liability protection, management flexibility, tax advantages, and less paperwork.
Fortunately, business formation services exist! You can avoid attorney fees and head-spinning by using one of these services. With online formation services, a small business owner can quickly and affordably form an LLC or whichever structure you choose. The Best Business Formation Services from Nav.com gives a comprehensive, yet comprehendible, guide to choosing a service. These services are reputable and very cost effective.
However, if you plan to raise funding and really do anything sizable with this venture, invest in a good attorney to ask the right questions, get the paperwork right, and structure shares and voting rights in the best way for your future plans. If you are looking to raise significant financing, a C-Corp in Delaware might be the way to go as that tends to be the desired structure by investors.
Stay Current on Your Credentials
Depending on your profession, you may need to apply for one or more licenses and permits when launching your business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) can help you Apply for Licenses and Permits, but don’t forget to check your state’s official website to learn more about your local requirements.
Get a Business Bank Account
You can probably do this online, however it’s a good idea to start a banking relationship early. Banking is not as cut and dried as you might think. A good personal banker will help you make sense of the products the bank offers and make good suggestions as your business grows. If you are a lean startup, make sure the account does not have minimum balance requirements or hidden fees. Establish credit lines now for any unexpected emergencies or cash shortfalls later.
Even more important than a good banker is a solid accountant/financial advisor. You can get along with online tax preparers like TurboTax for a while, especially if you plan to remain small. However, a competent accountant is a small, yet worthwhile expense. Get referrals from other entrepreneurs and interview more than one accountant. Finding the right fit is important because presumably this person will be guiding you and your business for a long time.
An accountant will have an idea of how much money you’ll need. Add some cushion to that. Start talking to investors as early as possible. Will you have employees and will you be hiring outside contractors or vendors? If so, how will you be paying them? An accountant will help keep you in your lane and your head above water.
Test the Waters
AEK Solutions will help you create a website so you can be prepared to take orders and money, even if that is just through invoices and PayPal. This way you can gauge the interest level and begin to land real users and bring in real money. We will use tools such as Google Analytics to see how well customers connect with your product and message. By saving and analyzing your data, we’ll help you continuously polish your message and guide future outreach decisions.
Create a Visibility Plan
As you prepare for your business launch, it helps to create a visibility plan. This will help to attract new clients and keep them coming back. The term project visibility refers to the big-picture view of a project. Clear visibility makes it easy to see the task status and progression, the team’s current and next steps, and any potential risks. You’ve already addressed many of these items in your business plan.
The author of Comprehensive Guide to Improved Project Visibility believes that project visibility has far-reaching implications for the culture of a business environment. Below are the author’s Four Components of Project Visibility:
- Project Goals: Define your project goals and use them as benchmarks of your project’s progress. Refer to them often to keep you and your employees on track.
- Visual Status Reporting: Along with written updates, a visual dashboard or chart helps users understand project status more easily. Create a document or dashboard that the team can reference at a glance, and update it in real time to reflect the status of your project. It often helps to grant team members editing access, so they can adjust and update their own status.
- Individual Team Members’ Responsibilities: An effective project manager excels at delegating. Know the strengths of your team and its individual members, and communicate clearly about individual responsibilities and the expectations of the team as a whole. Make these assignments visible to everyone on the dashboard.
- Any Potential Risks: As with any project, risks are always inherent. By clearly outlining the potential risks of a project, you can often avoid them entirely. And by making these potential risks public, you put more eyes on the issues that may arise, which means more chances to notice and correct them before they occur.
If you don’t create and follow a visibility plan right from the beginning, you’ll struggle to define your target market, land clients, connect with your audience, and keep your business relevant as time goes on.
Like a Grand Opening, a launch event is a way of congratulating yourself and “making it real!” We may live in a digital world of fast-paced tech innovations, but sometimes it pays “to go old-school.” Launch events are your first opportunity to introduce your business to the media, to local businesses, and potentially to your first clients.
Celebrate it with everyone who has been a part of making it happen. Make it a memorable moment for all of your contacts, backers, friends, and family. Don’t blow all your funding on it, but do make it tasteful. Make it memorable and tie great emotions to your brand, while making a lot of noise about your product or service. Make sure to invite influencers and press to get coverage as well as additional exposure.
- Save the date: Send out notices early to get the ball rolling and people’s interest piqued.
- Define your goals: What will your guests get out of attending?
- Allow yourself enough time: make sure you start early enough to get everything organized on time. You’ll need to book a venue and send invitations well in advance.
- Pick a venue: Choose a setting that is big enough and is completely on brand. If you are selling an expensive product or service, best to avoid Chuck E. Cheese. However, you’re a start-up and probably rubbing nickels, so get creative. Many places that are actual event spaces will be expensive. Art galleries, museums, libraries, or other local businesses are often looking for extra cash.
- Set the time and date: Make it as convenient as possible for as many guests to say yes.
- Create a guest-list and send invitations: Besides your family and professional support people (yes, DEFINITELY invite your accountant), invite potential influencers and brand ambassadors like journalists, bloggers, vloggers, researchers, and local celebrities.
- Make sure your branding is on point: Everything about your event should represent your startup’s values. Incorporate your brand colors into the decorations and use your logo on your promotional materials.
- Be original: Show off your creativity and don’t forget things like music and entertainment.
- Make it fun: Your guests are giving up their valuable time to be there. Food and drink should be a given, and, if you can afford it, a goodie bag with your product. Keep guest speakers on brand, brief, and interesting.
- Be active on social media: Create your own hashtag and include it on any promotional material so you can interact with anyone who’s talking about your events. Tweet and share pictures from your event to pique the interest of others. Make them curious about your brand!
- Think logistics: Consider how guests will make their way to and from your event. If you can’t arrange transport, make it easy for them to do it themselves. Include maps and details of local hotels.
Starting a business is hard work and there’s no reason to go it alone! You can start your own business on the right foot by having a solid plan and a team of outside professionals. AEK Solutions can ensure that your online presence is solid and generating excitement about your brand.
Whatever digital sales or marketing challenges you are experiencing, AEK has a solution! Whether you’re a large corporation or a small, local company, we’re here to help you achieve your business goals. AEK Solutions is dedicated to creating new sources of repeatable, online growth by utilizing creativity and technology to develop solutions to your specific marketing objectives. Our proven strategies will help your business grow.
We want to hear from you. If you have a sales or marketing question, we have an answer!