UGH! I have to say I sure wish the title of this could be "the only big mistake I made as a new business owner" but alas, it does not. It say's my first BIG mistake.. which should infer to you that there are other BIG mistakes as well as small mistakes and well heck.. let's just be honest, there are mistakes of all sizes in between too. BUT, this was the first mistake and a costly one at that.
You see, the mistake was thinking that the checklist for starting a new business looked something like this...
- Choose your business name
- Get your LLC set up
- Buy your (dot)com
- Hire a graphics designer to create a logo, business cards and website
So, I set off checking one thing off the list at a time and feeling confident, excited and ready to get rolling. First thing on the list, choosing a business name. Okay, not that hard right? Ugh! The not so "smooth" started here. I had idea after idea after idea but none of them seemed to be quite right but, I choose one... Prospective Perceptions. Phew! One thing off the list. Next, I got my LLC all set up. Thanks to a lot of help from my dad. Then I got my prospectiveperceptions (dot) com and I was on to the final stage of starting my own business... or so I thought.
I hired a graphics designer I knew of and had seen the amazing work she did. I was for sure this was going to go as smooth as ever. I was soooooo excited to finally be putting a "real" business together. Well, here is where things did not go as "smooth" as I was lead to believe starting a coaching business would be. My graphics designer had so many questions for me, questions I had not thought of, nor did I even know I needed to be thinking about. I knew my favorite colors and I knew those were going to be my brand colors but all those other things she wanted to know... yeah, I wasn't prepared for a graphics designer at all. So, we plugged along and logo after logo just didn't work. I didn't know why they didn't work, they just didn't fit and knowing I needed to move on I chose a logo and we went to work on my business card.
Guess what.. yep, the business card designs never felt quite right either. Yet, alas we must keep moving. I've got to get on to the all mighty website where my business becomes really real. Well, if you haven't guessed yet... the website didn't go any smoother or feel any more right. I began to think I had hired the wrong designer and that I just needed to find a new designer. I needed to find a graphics designer who got me and knew the answer to all the questions my designer kept asking me.
Fast forward a few months and I began to understand the BIG mistake wasn't hiring the wrong graphics designer. The BIG mistake was not having a clear vision of what I wanted my business to be and not knowing who my ideal client and/or target market was. Once I spent the time to get really clear on what I wanted my business to be, what feeling I wanted my brand to create and who my ideal client was... that's when things started to "just flow."
Ideas kept coming and this time they felt right and fit me. My brand began a revamp and my business began a restructure and in less than half the time it took me to get my initial business start up checklist completed I had my new checklist written, started and checked off. What I now know is a common BIG mistake that women starting their own business make is believing that brand design is on the top of the business start-up check list. I also know that this experience, this mistake was one of my best learning experiences and the experience that shifted me into my "flow" where things began to make sense and feel right.
Today, I LOVE being able to walk my clients through their own vision clarity, ideal client and target market identification so that they can pick a business name and develop a brand that fits them, their ideal client AND allows for flexibility... because the truth is your business is a living, breathing, ever growing organism and it's gonna change. You want to be sure that your brand is flexible to grow with you and that it supports, enhances and confirms the vision you have for your business.
In order to create a business brand that is successful I have designed the following business start-up checklist. This checklist will guide you through a start-up process that will ensure you don't have to be revamping your business and your brand... saving you money and time. Sure, all brands go through an update and revamping periodically.. BUT, if you start out with a clear vision, a specific client and a plan, you will save time, money AND alleviate self doubt.
Business Start-Up Checklist
1. Create a clear vision of what you want your life and lifestyle to be
2. Create a clear vision of how your new business integrates with your desired life/lifestyle
3. Define who you will serve, how you will serve them and what they will gain from working with you
4. Create packages and programs that fit your ideal life style/business style and that of your clients
5. Choose a business name that fits your vision of where you desire to be
6. Make sure your business name is available and that no-one else is using it
7. Complete your LLC or other legal paperwork required for your business
8. Purchase your (dot) com
9. Figure out how you will accept payments (PayPal, Square, Jotform, etc)
10. Write up your contracts of understanding, client agreements, financial contracts, etc.
11. Set up your social media sites (Facebook, Linked-In, Google +, Pinterest, You Tube, etc)
12. Find a network group in your area that your ideal clients are at OR that those who work with your ideal clients in a different way then you do attend.
13. Start building your reputation and sharing your knowledge via your social media sites and networking
14. Look for new ways to marketing and advertise your packages and programs
15. Attract clients
16. Serve clients
17. Account for income and expenses
18. Enjoy your new business and evaluate