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How To Actually Start Your Business

Cat LeBlancIf you’re thinking of starting a business this year – great! You have probably already spent a lot of time thinking, researching, talking to people and preparing. If you’re sure of your business idea – even better! If you’re not quite there yet check out The Idea Generator.

So assuming you’ve got your business idea, the one that is going to get you excited to get up in the morning and you know exactly what niche you are targeting, what’s next?

Steps to actually start your business

Identify tangible benefits for your ideal customer

The next step is to really go deep into how your service creates tangible benefits in your customer’s lives. When I say tangible I mean how is it possible to actually physically see that their lives are different.

For example: say you sell anti-aging injections, you could say the benefits are you’ll feel better and look younger. That sounds ok, but you could probably pass on that offer.

If you tell a story of how your customer’s lives will be different in a tangible way they will start to see themselves in this scenario. You could say – your friends and family will comment on how vibrant and full of life you look and you may even get asked to show ID buying wine! You’ll become more confident socially and start to feel that spring in your step that you did years ago! Suddenly it sounds more interesting.

If you explain how things will be different people will start to imagine themselves in this scenario and want to buy.

The clearer idea you have of how your services make a difference the easier it will be to communicate what you are offering and get people to buy.

Create your first offer and test it

Given the tangible benefits you are offering, what is the best way to package them to get people results?

My recommendation is to start with a small offering so people don’t have to part with too much money to try you out. It’s easier to sell something small than something that requires a larger investment. Make sure to describe it using the tangible benefits you worked out already.

Can you create some kind of “no-brainer” offer to get people in the door and get to know you? I recommend if you are offering services to do some limited free work to get testimonials. This will also help you check you are getting the results you hoped for and get feedback.

Price your offer

Once you have tested your offer you need to price it and put it out to the world. I recommend pricing at the lower end of what your competitors are offering. Your pricing should be the kind of sum of money that people can part with without too much concern. As a guide if you are able to provide an introductory offer for less than $200 that’s a great starting point.

Find some leads

Now you need to find someone to sell it to! At this point it is extremely easy to over-complicate absolutely everything!

You might be racing ahead thinking – ok, I need a professional website, branding, a graphic designer, business cards…

This is all the sexy stuff that people love about starting a business. Depending on what kind of business you want to create dictates what you really need and what you don’t. At least right now. If you are looking to create an online service-based business my Business Startup Coaching guides you through an optimal setup.

What you should be looking for is the easiest possible way of getting customers in the door and making money. Selling is more about offering real benefit than having the best website or amazing business stationary. I’m not saying those things aren’t important but you likely don’t need them right now. If you can it is better to grow your business organically. At least that way you will know it is working and you won’t invest a lot of time and energy only to discover it’s not really working.

Think about how you can find your very first customer. Even if it’s your Mum it doesn’t matter at first. If you keep generating leads and improving at some point your target customer will buy from you. Woo hoo!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tell everyone you know what you are doing and ask if they or someone they know could use your services
  • Approach local businesses
  • Put up ads in the local community
  • Create a basic, close to free website that you can send people to if a web presence is necessary in your niche

Once you get some customers, you will start getting more, and your business will grow from there.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Have you decided 2014 is the year to start your business?

What steps are you taking to start your business?

Let me know in the comments below…

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4 Responses to How To Actually Start Your Business

    • Thanks for commenting Kate :-) Glad you enjoyed it! I think it is so easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed in all the details of starting a business and not have a clear picture what needs to be done to get some traction vs all the other stuff. So that was my answer to that one :-)

  1. Hi Cat, I really enjoy reading your posts, i find them very inspiring and admire your journey, thank you for sharing.

    I have been a freelance illustrator for 2 years and my service as an illustrator has grown organically so that 2014 is about me starting a new business venture specialising in illustrated presentation and marketing videos and whiteboard style explainer videos.

    Ive got examples of what i can do and a healthy portfolio of previous clients. Its the generating new customers where i seem to have a block. I know i should literally pick up the phone to businesses and offer my services and advertise in some way but i feel its such a mine field (especially advertising) i dont know where to start.

    Any snippets of advise or links to info would be really appreciated.

    Many Thanks

    Jacqui x

    • Hi Jacqui,

      Thank you so much for commenting! I had a quick look at your website and saw you are in Brighton. I grew up in Shoreham just near you and Brighton was my hang out town! I got all sentimental when I saw your illustrations with Brighton Pavilion in the background.

      First of all congratulations on building your business organically to the point of taking on new business ventures. Go you!

      You say that you have a block generating new clients yet you have grown your business to this point so you have definitely been doing a lot right so far, even if you may feel that you have a block. Here is what I would advise:

      1. Have you gone through the process of working out the ideal client that you like to work with? If not, and to be honest it always makes sense to revisit this, I would spend some time figuring out the commonalities between the clients that you have enjoyed working with and where you were happy with the financial result.

      2. Once you know who they are I would suggest contacting those who fit that criteria from your past client base and saying something along the lines of …( add brief intro) I really enjoyed working with you (add some specific detail) and I’m always looking for exciting new projects with (insert characteristics of what made these clients/projects so great). I am creating some new services (add a basic overview) If you these could benefit you I’d love to have a brief meeting and if they could benefit anyone you know I do offer (some kind of referral incentive) for referrals.

      Just change the words so they fit your own style. It’s always much easier to get referrals than it is to book new clients and if you haven’t been advertising you are likely already pretty good at this already. If you ask for the sale or referral it will likely jolt people into action.

      3. I would only go for advertising once you have contacted your previous clients. In terms of advertising think about where your ideal clients hang out (the ones you don’t know yet) and their preferred method of communication. Would they respond to cold calls? If you were to advertise where could you bump into them. Is it possible you could write an article somewhere or do something else that would create more trust than just paying for adverts? This all depends on who you are trying to connect with. If you do advertise try and be as highly targetted as you can and try a small amount of money first so you can check if it is working.

      I hope this all helps. It ended up a bit longer than intended! Please feel free to email me if you have more questions. Thanks again for posting your thoughts. It is always wonderful to hear people are reading my material and getting something from it.

      Cat x

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