I consulted for a few friends that were looking at starting their own business. They already had ideas of content to provide and even had some initial content ready to go but they needed tips on how to start a company. Since we’re in IT, they came to us asking for help with getting their website up. They thought that was the only missing piece needed to setup before they could start making money.
During our first consulting session, I let them know that they had probably only done about 20-30% of the work so far. I gave them the basic information they needed to continue and help get their company off the ground. I’ve taken some details from the notes I provided to them and added them into this article here. I hopes that they might be useful for you and others.
Start with Why
It’s important to know why you’re doing something and to keep that in mind. Money is the obvious reason someone would do this, but usually there are other reasons as well. Some people do it because it might be fun, because they want to make a difference, or they want to create a quality product, etc.
So before you even start your company, you’ll want to figure out these 2 things:
- What do you hope to achieve with your company?
- Determine what your company’s definition of value will be
Your definition of value will guide and affect everything you do. For example, if value was defined by how much pride you can take in what you sell instead of just profit, it might make sense to throw out any product that does not meet a certain standard instead of trying to turn a profit off of it.
What do you hope to achieve with your company, or where you imagine you want your company to be, will also affect what you do. If you have really long-term goals with your company, you are able to do things that don’t really make sense in the short-term, but pay off in the long run.
What Needs to Happen
Below is a brief overview of some of the things you may need to do to start your own company, aside from offering a product or service. There’s definitely a lot more that can be said about each topic, but I just want to bring awareness to each element that needs attention.
Marketing and Branding
A standard marketing funnel has four stages: 1) awareness, 2) consideration, 3) conversion, and 4) loyalty. A brand’s goal in each stage is to 1) attract, 2) inform, 3) convert, and 4) engage customers. Figuring out your brand’s voice and target audience with ultimately help with generating interest in your product or service.
We’ll be focusing on two aspects of marketing: Lead generation/conversion and branding. Each one being a very different thing.
You can’t start a website, have a payment portal and expect the money to start coming in right away. Your target audience needs to be aware that these offerings exist first. The Top of Funnel efforts are focused on making your company visible to potential leads and letting them know what it has to offer.
This is where you focus on getting people who know about your company and engage their interest, to actually buy what your company has to offer. Usually you’ll have some sort of call to action: Contact us! Buy Now! These efforts are classified as the Bottom of the Funnel and help direct your target audience towards generating that sale or interest in the product or service.
This is a separate part of marketing that I had not considered until I decided to start my own company. This is your company’s image and voice, as in how you communicate with your audience. What connotations it has, how much weight it carries.
If you think of Mercedes, you automatically attach expensive, or luxury to that brand. Before even considering the product that the brand is attached to, you already have a vague idea of the type of experience you’ll be enjoying with that product, all based on the product’s brand.
You’ll want to consider what your brand is, and what makes your company different from the rest. This is something that is typically identified and built upon over time, so don’t worry if you don’t have a strong brand to start with. Often, you will be able to better define this aspect after a year of being in business, after you have had time to establish yourself and grow with your target audience.
You don’t want your relationship with your customers to end after their first purchase. You want them to keep coming back, maybe seeking another, more expensive offering, or gain that trust and reliability so that they are recommending your company to their friends.
Operations and Logistics
This will vary a lot depending on what your company is doing. I just want you to ask yourself how this product or service will be created, delivered, and paid for. This section can involve many steps which is not front facing to your target audience, but is important to the function of how they will receive your product or service. See our article on Systems Thinking for more info on how to approach your designs
Back office work is all the work that needs to be done, but does not interact directly with your customers. This includes HR, Accounting, Payroll, Taxes, etc. While not the focus of your company, it can bring your company down if not properly tended to.
Starting your own business doesn’t have to be a challenging endeavor, the process can be a fun learning process. Eventually providing a product or service that you are proud to provide to a customer, and we at e-Mayhem can help guide you on your path. We are more than happy to assist with these aspects and offer further services to set you up, feel free to contact us!