When you’re starting a new business it’s important not to get bogged down in the set up phase. Sure, you need to properly plan what you’re going to do, but after that it’s a case of just getting started.
You won’t get everything perfect to start with, so it’s best just to get things going to build some momentum. You can always polish things later when you have your first clients in place.
Here are 4 things you need to get set up to ensure you’re ready to go:
Action Step 1 – Create a Simple Website.
Every business needs to be online nowadays, so you need to set up a website and email address. Just keep it simple – you don’t need have a slick, cutting-edge design. To get going, you only need a simple site with no more than 3 to 5 pages. A single page site may even be enough.
On your home page you should provide a brief summary of what your business does. You should then set up a short ‘About’ page to further talk about yourself and what offer. It’s important to make sure this also talks about how this benefits your prospects too. Moving on, you can create a ‘Products /Services’ page, to explain in more detail what you offer. Finally, a ‘Contact’ page is required so prospects know how to get in touch with you.
If you have the time to write regularly, you can also set up a blog, although this isn’t necessary. Much more important is finding your first few customers, so focus there, rather than on blogging.
Keep your site design clean, simple, and above all easy to read and navigate around. If you want to spend money improving the design you can do so later when you have customers on board and you have a much better idea of what might appeal to them.
Action Step 2 – Get Some Stationery
Actually, if your business is solely based online you may not need any business cards or stationery at all. If you’re not sure, you can just ignore this step until you find you do need it – don’t waste time on stuff that doesn’t help you get started quickly.
If you do need stationery created, you will probably need a simple logo and some branding created first. Again, don’t spend a lot of time on this – you don’t need the perfect design, just something that looks half decent to get you up and running.
You can get some impressive designs from places like 99designs.com and fiverr.com. Vendors will create a logo, website header, and other branding for you fast and at a very good price.
Step 3 – Sign Up to Social Media Networks
Before we discuss social media, I just want to make clear that’s it’s not the magic bullet solution it’s often presented at. True, you will find prospects and contacts on the various networks, but like anywhere else you’ll need to put in the work to develop a reputation and attract the right people.
The real value of social media is as part of a long-term strategy to build relationships. Don’t fall into the trap of spending lots of time updating your profiles and statuses – you’re not being productive, you’re actually just being busy achieving very little.
Also, you don’t need to be on every social network – just choose the ones most relevant to you where your prospects / customers hang out.
LinkedIn is a good idea if you sell to other businesses, whilst Facebook is probably a better option if you sell to consumers (although certain businesses will also find a niche there). Twitter can also be a decent choice for either, but only if you’re the type of person who’d use it anyway. If that’s not you, just ignore it start with as your time is better spent elsewhere. You can always return to it later.
If you have a highly visual product, then Pinterest and Instagram are good options. Businesses that are arts / crafts based, or that sell clothes, jewellery, accessories, etc. should strongly consider these networks.
To start with, the best way to reach your prospects on social media is to buy ads targeting them specifically. Most social networks have ad programs that allow you to target very narrow segments. Start with a small budget until you are familiar with how it all works, then scale up if you get results. If you can’t generate any interest you may want to re-think being on that network at all, or else change what you’re offering.
Step 4 – Get a Business Phone Number
You need a separate phone number for your business – don’t try and use your personal numbers as this could quickly become messy. Rather than installing a new line, the best way get started is with a virtual phone number.
Virtual numbers are hosted in the cloud and can be dialled exactly like a regular phone number. Virtually all number ranges are available, including regional numbers, non-geographic numbers, Freephone (toll-free) numbers, as well as international numbers if you ever start exporting your products.
A dedicated virtual number can instantly make your business appear more professional and also more credible. It also protects your privacy and gives you control over when you can be reached (and by whom). If you don’t want to answer your calls, just have them sent to voicemail, play a recorded message or handle them another way if you prefer.
You can also make outbound calls by setting up a VoIP account to further reduce your phone costs. VoIP is short for ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’, which is really just a fancy way of saying phone calls made over the internet. Business grade VoIP services provide high call quality and are just as reliable as a traditional system. You can choose to buy a VoIP handset for your VoIP calls, or else install software on your computer or use an app (free) on your smartphone.
Getting started is more important than getting everything perfect. Follow the 4 action steps above as quickly as you can and then get on to the important task of winning your first few customers.
About the Author:
Matthew Guise is a digital marketing expert for Callagenix Ltd, a UK-based hosted phone services provider that specialises in business grade hosted phone solutions.